BBC Commission ✏️

Hello! I was commissioned by the lovely people at the BBC to create a series of images providing tips on how to be more accessible on social media – check it out on the @bbc account! (see below!)

To mark the 25th anniversary of discrimination against disabled people being made unlawful in the UK, with the Disability Discrimination Act the BBC are sharing a range of content from disabled creatives. 

I will be making sure I add Alt text and image IDs on my instagram posts (in comments section below) from now on, I always have captions on my YouTube videos (I’m someone who loves watching videos with captions and I see so many benefits, for me it helps so much with my understanding and processing difficulties). I’ll make a more conscious effort to caption videos across my social media platforms and capitalise my hashtags for screenreaders.

Swipe / click through the image carousel below! >>>

World Mental Health Day 💬

October 10th was #worldmentalhealthday and I thought I would repost the drawing I did for it last year. I’ve been seeing lots of Instagram posts today that are so genuine and honest, people explaining the struggles of living with mental health issues.

l did this drawing last year to explain how mental health affects sensory people (and how the two can become quite intertwined to the extent that it’s hard to tell what’s responsible for what feeling, thought, etc). I’ve explained before that my mental health is confusing to me because my issues can randomly intensify and l also struggle with episodes of depression which can be really debilitating. Obviously everyone’s mental health is very different but I do think it’s important to be supportive to each other both online and in the real world.

I do think it’s great that self care is becoming more a ‘thing’ now and it really is important in order to keep functioning in life. I find that my mental health mixed with my sensory issues (and now knowing I’m autistic) is always tough to deal with but having a community of neurodiverse and like minded people here on Instagram has really helped me to understand not only myself but to understand how others cope in the big wide world. (Doodle is my own view of mental health and sensory issues and I totally understand that not everyone may agree / relate to what I’ve said and drawn as we all experience things very differently.)

Interoception (inner sense) drawing…🧠

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!

DIY Sensory Zen Garden 🌱

My mum is super creative and a while back she created a small zen garden inside a wooden box, complete with miniature rakes and pebble! It’s super easy to do (she used sand from a beach!).

It’s a very calming therapeutic activity to do. It’s just satisfying to shape the sand and rake it back and forth, you get a range of sensory feedback. Definitely recommend trying this out for yourself as an inexpensive sensory activity.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit an actual Japanese zen garden in Cornwall a few years ago and it was such a calm and relaxing experience. Being able to walk around and immerse myself in the surrounding nature and experience the quiet and subtle sounds of wind chimes and running streams was so grounding and calm, I’d love to have access to a local garden like this!

Have you ever been to a zen or sensory garden before? If so how was your experience? Comment down below.

Smells, Scents and Odours…👃

Smells, scents and odours 👃 this is the next drawing in my little series of the ‘8 senses’ (see my first one on food and drink struggles by scrolling back on my blog posts or Instagram feed!) 

  • I ❤️ the smell of fruit 🍋 just a natural and refreshing smell that I enjoy and I’m really familiar with and fruit is comforting to me 🍏🍓🍉🍊
  • I find cleaning sprays, fancy perfumes, aftershaves and paint too strong and really overwhelming. They are almost like painful to smell? Don’t know if anybody else struggles with that…❌🧴🚿🧹 
  • Ah the familiar smell of pens and markers 😍 🖊 they sort of act as a ‘grounding’ thing for me they keep me present and remind me that I’m doing something arty! 🎨 
  • Cooking smells and the way things smell when they sizzle is tooooo much for me! Especially fried things…🚫🍳🥓🥩
  • I find crackling fires, camp fires, heavily scented candles and any form of smoke really difficult to deal with because of the way it’s sticks/clings to my hair and clothes 🔥🌋 🚬 🚭
  • The sea is the bestttt smell! (And the best sound to be honest too!) 🌊🏖 again it’s quite refreshing and keeps me in the present moment 😎

What smells do you love or hate? Are there particular smells you struggle with? Let me know in the comments below! ⬇️

A new 21andsensory podcast episode!

In this month’s episode I had a chance to speak to the very lovely Emily (find her @autie__eevee on Instagram). We spoke about a whole range of things such as her self diagnosis of Autism and her journey to be formally assessed, her first year studying Fine Art at university, her special interests and hobbies and about her amazing Instagram account!

Search for the 21andsensory podcast wherever you get your podcasts from!

Apple Podcasts   Google Play Music  Overcast   Pocket Casts  Spotify

A day in my life (Autistic Graphic Designer) 💻

Hi everyone – this is a day in my life working from home as a Graphic Designer. I usually work in an open plan office but due to UK lockdown I have been working from home for the past 3 months (and I much prefer it!).

This is the first ever ‘vlog’ style thing I have uploaded so naturally I’m quite nervous about it. If you are interested in how I work from home my latest podcast episode on this topic went live on May 31st 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!

A new doodle and a new podcast episode! 🎙

Working from home by 21andsensory

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 🏠

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