Over the past couple of weeks I’ve felt this statement a lot. I am trying my best each day to muddle on through life in general. I feel like a lot of my life has involved ‘muddling on through’ things that seem to come naturally to other people.
But: I always try my best. I am super dedicated and hyper focused when it comes to producing the best output I can. However…trying my best takes a hell of a lot of effort as an autistic person. It’s keeping up a constant ‘mask’ or ‘act’ in most social situations. It’s suffering from sensory overwhelm and autistic burnout on the regular. But you’d never know it from looking at me. And you’d never know it when looking at others. I think we all just need to be aware that everyone in life is muddling through things and nobody really has it figured out.
That was a ramble but the short of it is: I’m going to keep muddling through. And so should you.
(Also sorry if muddling is a British sort of word to use but it resonates with me! It means to think or act in a confused or aimless way).
Hi everyone I’m back again with another lil’ drawing of a very sensory based grounding technique I find useful when I am anxious. You may of heard of it before, it’s usually referred to as the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. I find it useful because I am (obviously) a highly sensitive individual and it distracts me to tune into each sense separately (might be hard to do in a busy situation but I find it helps in most other situations!). It just turns your thoughts entirely to your senses and off cycling and worrying thoughts even if it’s only briefly. Below are some pointers that might help you…
👁 Really look for 5 things you can see: what’s in front of you? Really look and pick out some small details, maybe it’s a wooden surface which you can see the grain of, your own hands and your fingerprints, the fabric of some curtains and the way they hang, the specific colour within something like a hanging picture, what’s pleasing or not so pleasing to look at?
✋ Feel 4 things with your hands or even feet as you walk (please be careful in these COVID times with this though!) the fabric of your own clothes, the seat you are on, if outside the grass or pavement or brick wall you pass by. Even just the sensation of your feet within your shoes, try and really tune into that feeling.
👂Acknowledge 3 things you can hear right now. Can you hear traffic in the distance? Conversations going on a couple of rooms away? What can you tune into? Even if it’s a ticking clock, sound of a pet pottering about…
👃 What 2 things can you smell? Maybe it’s your own deodorant, perfume or aftershave…or someone else’s? Or the smell of a room, cooking smells, air freshener or cleaning smells, etc. Is there any sort of smell to the air surrounding you?
👅 Can you taste anything? Even if it’s a drink you’ve just had or something you’ve eaten is there any taste at all in your mouth?
Hello! Here is drawing number six (part of a series on our 8 senses, scroll back in my feed to see my previous drawings!) ✏️ which is all about Interoception which is a lesser known sense that actually helps you understand and fell what’s going on inside your body (think of it as an inner sense)…
A sensory diet is important! It’s a way of self regulating (like using fidget and stim toys) and usually involves physical activities like rolling on a yoga ball, having time on a swing or trampoline, heavy work activities like using weights or lifting and carrying things. The idea is a sensory diet helps you to become more grounded as you are getting the regular input that your body needs. As a result you may feel calmer and more in control of your behaviour and mood. I’ve definitely seen the benefits of having a sensory diet (for example I use a therapressure brush to do body brushing which has helped me to desensitise my limbs to touch).
I never feel full…like my stomach and brain just doesn’t have that sense wired in..it’s really odd and can be annoying (comment down below with a hands-up emoji to join the club) I experience this even more in restaurants, due to the busy, noisy environment I literally cannot connect to what my stomach is feeling because I am filtering so much other information.
Visual cues – these can be super helpful, especially to remind ourselves to do daily tasks like personal hygiene, to drink and eat enough and what to expect during the day. I know a lot of people use social stories (google the term for more info, they were developed by Carol Gray in 1991) as a tool to help with self care skills, social skills, changes in routine, etc. You can make Velcro versions so you can easily change out what your day looks like.
Hypersensitivity to pain…if you’re a sensory being you may well be hypersensitive (over-sensitive) to pain…I know I am!! I am very tuned in to pain and when something hurts it REALLY HURTS even if it’s something small like a cut it’ll be super distracting to me. Equally you may be hyposensitive to pain (under-sensitive) and not realise if you are hurt/injured.
Grounding exercises – these are super useful when your mind is whirring, thoughts swirling and your heartbeat feels a bit rapid and all over the place. Most smart watches have in-built breathing exercises / apps built into them (e.g Apple Watch does, my Fitbit does too!) and these can be helpful in terms of distraction by looking at something visual and timing your breath along with an animation. Of course there are lots of different grounding exercises, another good one to use when you are overwhelmed is to sit and use your senses to ground you, name a few things you can hear, smell, touch, see, etc. This can diverts your brain and distract you.
Alexithymia is a difficulty in recognising emotions and identifying feelings. This is something my autism assessor said she think I might struggle with. I definitely find it super difficult to explain my feelings to others because I genuinely cannot recognise or process my own emotions.
Do comment down below if you can relate to anything in my drawing or anything I’ve said, I’m always keen to hear how everyone copes with these things. Two more drawings to go in this little series!
Here’s my latest doodle…Working from Home (Autistic / Sensory Edition) My latest podcast episode on this topic has just gone live so if you would like to hear me talk about the pros and cons of working at home in more detail (and just generally rambling on like I usually do) search for 21andsensory wherever you usually get your podcasts! Here’s some more info on the episode:
In ‘Episode 19: Working from home and managing life in lockdown’ I chat about:
How I have found working from home and the process from the very beginning 👀
Struggling with meltdowns, overwhelm, change and routines 🧠
My current work set-up and how I’m coping ✏️
The pros and cons of working remotely 👩🏻💻
And finally an advice section for those working / studying / revising / teaching / generally trying to live and survive at home during lockdown 🏠
Hey everyone – hope you are all doing okay. Emily (@autie_eevee) reached out to me during the week to ask if I wanted to collab on a lil’ drawing with her – she designed the circular graphic and we each filled out a half (I filled out the sensory defensive half and she filled out the sensory seeking half) Zoom in to check out all the little details and see her great description below:
Sensory Seeking and Sensory Defensive
For me, this is a topic which I struggle with and causes me anxiety, because I doubt whether I am autistic because my sensory issues aren’t as heightened as others. However, I think that it is often forgotten that sensory issues – just the same as autism – is a spectrum. Everyone has different sensory issues and needs and so I have teamed up with the lovely Emily from @21andsensory to create this infographic about the sensory spectrum.
Sensory sensitivity is a spectrum, on which you can be situated anywhere – and it can actually differ from person to person, with some people having a range of sensitivities for different things. For example, you could be highly sensitive to sound but not sensitive to touch.The terms for ‘being sensory sensitive or not’ is “sensory defensive” or “sensory seeking”.
As the names suggest, sensory seeking people are often HYPOsensitive to sensory input, meaning that they search for it and enjoy the sensory experiences. Sensory defensive people are HYPERsensitive to sensory input, meaning they actively avoid it, due to it being uncomfortable and causing physical pain or discomfort for them.
I am still learning about where I am on the sensory spectrum, although I know I am a mix of the two and it very much depends on the situation I’m in as well. However, I hope this post has been helpful and informative in a little talked about topic! 💖
All Things Quarantine…this doodle may have taken me quite a while to do…but here’s an overview of some things I’ve been enjoying (and yes loving plants as always ❤️🌱). I’ve been drinking ALOT of tea, falling into YouTube holes, organising and tidying my room and life and just generally doodling and creating things here and there.
I’ve been working from home up in my little bedroom, which I’m enjoying as it’s an environment I can control and…no need for masking! (apart from on video calls lol). My next podcast episode is going to be me chatting about all things working from home related and the differences I have found between working remote and in an open plan office. It’ll go live at the end of May so keep an eye out for when it goes up and tune in!
Also let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments below!
Something a bit different, I’ve decided to make some colouring sheets from my illustrations! Every week I am going to be putting a downloadable colouring sheet of one of my illustrations live on this dedicated page on my website. The first one that is live right now is the ‘Self Isolation Achievements’ (Autistic / Sensory Edition) please let me know if you colour them in and I’d LOVE to see photos – feel free to send to me / tag me and I’ll be sure to share! Pop them up as posters to remind yourself of your fab achievements.
I would super appreciate a small donation if you would like to download the printable PDF’s (I appreciate we are in a pandemic currently and totally understand if you are not able to donate – the PDF is still downloadable) there is a link to my newly created kofi account on the page.
Hello everyone, I’m back again, this time with an illustration of some self isolation achievements. I know that all the news on TV and online seems to be constantly swirling around and being updated continually (which is fine) but it can be really difficult not to get anxious, stressed, upset and triggered by it all. I’m trying to hold on to the small positives each day and the little autistic and sensory achievements I have been making along the way.
Why not comment down below any wins or things you’ve done with your time (they can be big or small – everything counts).
I hope you are all doing okay and staying safe (as much as you can be with all this going on).