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Why We Need to Start Looking at Autism as a Fruit Salad – an article by our Ambassador Paul Isaacs

It’s 2021 and its time to start looking at autism in a more three-dimensional approach, it’s time to bridge gap and accommodate both the social and medical models of disability (in the context of autism). The Fruit Salad Analogy was created by Donna Williams (Polly Samuel) in 1995. 

So, let’s get to the basics of information processing challenges

  • Aphasias (language processing, expressive & receptive)
  • Agnosias (awareness of your senses and perception)
  • Apraxias (fine and gross motor coordination) 
  • Metabolic (heart, brain and blood vessels)
  • Gut (gastro-intestinal, IBS & leaky gut) 
  • Auto-Immune (systemic, organs & blood)
  • Seizure (brain electrical activity)

Then there are mental health challenges (with examples) 

  • Anxiety (OCD, social anxiety & exposure anxiety)
  • Mood (depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia) 
  • Impulse Control (skin picking and hair pulling)  
  • Dissociative (derealisation, depersonalisation & dissociative identity disorder)  
  • Attachment (reactive attachment disorder)
  • Psychosis (hallucinations & delusions) 

The common pieces of someone’s autism “fruit salad” are 

  • Social emotional agnosia (not perceiving body language facial expression or tone of voice)
  • Face blindness (not perceiving or bonding with facial association) 
  • Alexithymia (not perceiving one’s own emotional states or frequencies)
  • Simultagnosia (not perceiving the visual “world” as a whole)
  • Dyspraxia (has an impact on one’s ability to navigate space, depth and tactile association)
  • Language Processing (can fall to two basic domains expressive and receptive)
  • Communication Disorders (may impact the whole body and/or the speech organs)
  • Identity & Personality (may have co-existing personality disorders which impact on the person’s overall functioning and presentation)
  • Exposure Anxiety (in which a person’s nervous system is on a “hair trigger” when awareness of “self” causing fight, flight or freeze and self-responses)


There are so many inaccurate and quite frankly celebrity and bias theories about what autism is and isn’t, but the truth of the matter is that autism is not a static condition that presents itself in the same way from person to person – it is a clustering of conditions that can be found in both neurology and biology. 

If with have a healthy mindset of sharing useful and productive information and broaden the narrative to include – education, care homes, parents, social services, parents, and people on the spectrum then it creates a solid environment for meaningful changes that have real impact on people’s lives.

Paul Isaacs 2021


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Culture CampaignWhy We Need to Start Looking at Autism as a Fruit Salad – an article by our Ambassador Paul Isaacs