The nightmare that is….clothes shopping 🛍👀

Hi everyone, here is a new drawing I did explaining what a nightmare clothes shopping can be for autistic and sensory people! (aka meeeeee)

  • *Needs new clothes* – I have trusty go-to t-shirts, jeans, etc that I find comfy and wear until they quite literally are falling apart. I’ve been like this since I was a child, I could never let go of clothing and really would wear things to the bitter end.
  • Tries searching for exact replacements – this requires much searching online for exact replacements (this is a pain because clothing lines change so frequently and I never think to buy multiples in case I don’t like them…and then I do like them after a while and it’s too late!)
  • They arrive and get put away… so I cut every single conceivable tag, label, instruction booklet out of them and neatly fold or hang them up which is super satisfying and I genuinely feel quite happy that I’ve managed to come across clothing I might be able to bear.
  • 3 years later…still feel too new to wear. DAMN IT. They ALWAYS, alwaysssss still feel way too new to wear. Sometimes washing the clothes a few times helps with this feeling but I am an absolute nightmare when it comes to wearing new clothes (so much so that I prefer to shop second hand a lot as then clothes feel more worn in and after a few washes smell okay enough to wear).

Things I have found that help: I get this a lot with shoes. It can take me YEARS to get into new shoes. Again buying them secondhand from places like @depop help but if I do decide to get brand new shoes (a tip my mum came up with) is to take them out of the box and put them in my room so I get used to the look of them and them being part of my life.

It sounds ridiculous I know but it really is an autistic / sensory thing – I am awful with change and new things and I am much kinder to myself now knowing I am autistic and that this is just a part of who I am and how my mind operates.

Do you struggle with clothing? Any top tips you have feel free to share in the comments below!

New 21andsensory Podcast Episode with Special Guest…My Sister! 🎙

My special guest on today’s episode is…my sister! Subscribe here or listen below!

We chat about:

  • My sisters career as primary school teacher and what Masters course she is studying
  • Her heart condition and how she manages it
  • GCSE’s and ALevels and the stresses of exams
  • Special needs and mental health within Schools
  • Understanding the role of School’s SEN departments and the process that it takes to become a Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
  • What it was like growing up with me…
  • Questions from my listeners (taken from my Instagram Stories) for my sister
  • And some bloopers to look forward to at the end!

I was a guest on another podcast! 🎙

Hi everyone! I am just popping on to say I was a guest on @spotlightonfasd and the episode went live today! I spoke about my Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism. Something I haven’t shared here before is that I have an adopted brother who has a diagnosis of FASD and is Autistic.

FASD stands for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. It is a term used to describe the permanent impacts on the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol during pregnancy resulting in a spectrum of physical, emotional, behavioural and neurological characteristics. I spoke on the podcast about my experiences growing up with my brother and how he made my parents realise my sensory processing difficulties.

Please go have a listen! Available wherever you get your podcasts and on YouTube above 🎉

More info on the Spotlight on FASD podcast:

The UK’s first podcast dedicated to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). We aim to shine a light on FASD and bring conversations out of the shadows.

We’re getting stuck in and chatting about everything from diagnosis to dentistry, education to executive functioning. Combining the latest research with lived experience, our conversations will be real and raw. We believe there us nothing to be afraid of and with open discussion, those with FASD and their caregivers can thrive. Join us on our journey.

Spotlight on FASD Links: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Born Anxious T-shirt Review 👚

I was sent this lovely Adult Headphone T-shirt from the team at Born Anxious – it’s designed to alert others that a person may find the world to loud, they may wear noise cancelling headphones and that they may become overloaded with too much noise.

I like how modern the design is (nice headphone icon) and generally the black and white design feels quite slick (it’s available in 12 fab colours and in sizes S-XL). It’s super soft and feels of a good quality. The ‘I don’t like loud noise’ design is on the back of the t-shirt along with the Born Anxious website and the front has a small Born Anxious logo on the chest.

What I absolutely LOVE about their clothing is it is all TAG / LABEL FREE! Yes completely label freeeeee. Which means nothing to have to cut out awkwardly! I can’t get over it not having a collar or side label like it’s honestly revolutionary. To know I can grab this t-shirt and just wear it without worrying about my mood is huge!

In replacement of removing the labels, they provide a recycled information postcard with each product, that holds the care instructions and information of who they support through donations from each purchase. They have chosen to keep our donations as local as possible to spread awareness within their little corner of the UK and to support each other in smaller circles and communities that will then help those to connect to the bigger ones.

In time Born Anxious will be expanding the range and will remain organic, as they feel this is important for people with difficulties surrounding skin irritations or sensory difficulties. They are aiming to be Planet friendly and fair trade.

Buy the T-Shirt here

Note: This is an honest review (I wasn’t paid or sponsored in anyway).

An important pie chart on clothing…👕

An important pie chart on clothing…ah clothing. It’s a NIGHTMARE for us sensory-beings. I wear a tiny proportion of my wardrobe. This is due to:

👕 New clothes. I cannot wear new clothes immediately like most people can. I can happily wait 2 years to wear new shoes (my brand new black converses are still sat in my wardrobe and I have another pair that took me literally 5 years to wear). I don’t know what it is but I have this huge fear of new clothes. My family is very aware of this and my mum actually gets me to slowly get stuff out of the box / packaging it comes in and just sit it in my room so I get used to the look of it. This can help. Also wearing stuff around the house can help but it’s so so difficult and painful for me to get into new things. I love second-hand and charity shop clothing for this reason!

🔖 TAGS / LABELS. Eww. The absolute pain of my life. They physically can change my entire mood if I have a scratchy label or tag inside my clothing. Also sometimes it’s no good cutting them out as that leads like a raw edge unless you physically unpick the thread of them. Also…Why do some clothes have literal books sewn into them? I get that we need washing instruction but gees. There are some great brands that come tag-free such as:

🙅🏻‍♀️ Fabric / texture. I am very fussy when it comes to the fabric and texture of clothing and how it sits on my skin.

👃🏻Smell – I have to wash anything new multiple times before I can even think about wearing it. This includes bedding – any new duvets go through a rigorous washing phase with the only detergent I can manage.

How are you with clothing? Any good coping techniques? Share them in the comments down below!

Proprioception Drawing ✏️

Hello! Here is the final drawing of my series on our 8 senses (scroll back in my feed to see my 7 previous drawings!) ✏️ This drawing is all about proprioception. Proprioception refers to the body’s ability to make sense of it’s own position in space. For example, proprioception enables a person to close their eyes and touch their nose with their index finger (which can be harder than it sounds – try it!).

Explanation behind my drawing…

  • Climbing: In any shape or form! Whether it’s rock climbing, tree climbing, etc.
  • Posture: My posture is awful…and it always takes me a while to realise it when I’m sat at a desk because I’ll sit on my legs or cross them. I know I need to work on it and there’s lots of different methods to remind me like watch alerts to move!
  • Weighted: I love weighted things, whether it’s a weighted lap pad, jacket or lap toy.
  • Hand Grip: I’ve always held my pen way too hard and pressed on my paper too much – I only really realised how bad this was when I used to come out of written exams in school and my hand would be aching so much!
  • Tight hugs: are the BEST. But only from select trusted people! 😉
  • New skill: These can be flipping difficult. Learning to drive for example (and being dyslexic and not understanding my left and rights!). New skills can take us more time as we process at different speeds..

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. One more drawing to go in this little series!.

IMAGE ID (White post background with 6 categories listed and little drawings above each)

  • Climbing: Woman with brown hair. yellow t-shirt, blue trousers and trainers climbing a rock climbing wall with coloured hand and foot grips. Green Tick icon above to show Emily likes climbing.
  • Posture: Ginger haired woman sat at a desk with a computer monitor and mouse, hunched over it with a leg up on the chair. She is wearing a green jumpers and blue jeans with white socks. Cross icon above to show Emily dislikes dealing with posture. 
  • Weighted: Three drawings of weighted items – a weighted plush toy dog which is brown and beige. A weighted lap pad which is purple with planets and stars on it. A weighted zip-up jacket which is navy blue with pockets. Green Tick icon above to show Emily likes weighted items.
  • Hand Grip: A hand holding a yellow pencil over a lined piece of A4 paper. Text on the paper says ‘Pressing too hard’. Cross icon above to show Emily dislikes dealing with her hand grip.
  • Tight hugs: A man with blonde hair and a teal jumper hugging a woman with black long curly hair and purple jumper. Green Tick icon above to show Emily likes tight hugs.
  • New skill: 3 drawings, a pair of hands holding a grey steering wheel. Yellow ball of wool with two knitting needles pushed through it. A leg with a white sock and purple roller blade on it with pink and green straps over it. Cross icon above to show Emily dislikes learning new skills.

Vestibular System and Sense of Movement Drawing 👟

Hello! Here is drawing number seven (part of a series on our 8 senses, scroll back in my feed to see my previous drawings!) ✏️ which is all about our vestibular sense. The vestibular sense contributes to our ability to maintain balance and body posture. It provides information through the inner ear that tells us about our head position and how (or if) we are moving. Our understanding of movement and balance helps us to coordinate the movement of our head with our eyes, enables ud to use both sides of our body at the same time, and tells us which direction we are going and how fast, and helps us to remain upright!.Explanation behind my drawing…

  • Motion: I love being in motion! I enjoy swinging, rocking, skateboarding / penny boarding, jumping and generally moving…the list is kind of endless. I can be quite a restless person sometimes and I find I need to move quite a lot to stay self regulated.
  • Clumsy: I am CLUMSY. Like beyond clumsy. I fall up stairs (not down oddly), walk into furniture and walls regularly and have unexplained bruises on my legs where I must have walked into something and have forgotten. While I was writing this caption I genuinely hit my elbow on a table… that’s how clumsy I am!
  • Sports: Like I said I find I need to move regularly in order to self regulate but also it helps me sleep so much better when I have exercised. I’m enjoying doing HIIT workouts at the moment as they are high intensity and the different sets of exercises target my whole body which I like. Also it’s fun to be challenged with different exercises and finding my strength is growing!
  • Timing: Lifts and escalators. I am NOT good with escalators. I love the motion of them but can I co-ordinate my feet? NOPE. Train stations, shopping centres/malls, you’ll always find them in busy places and I find I either trip off escalators (or zoom straight off them because the floor is very much static and the moving staircase is not…)
  • Rocking: I love a good rocking chair or wobble board they are just sort of relaxing as well as being distracting
  • Tripping: Again as I mentioned I regularly trip up stairs and again it’s trying to co-ordinate my feet in time with the rest of my body!.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. One more drawing to go in this little series!.

IMAGE ID (White post background with 6 categories listed and little drawings above each)

  • Motion – drawing of a sensory hanging swing seat, a skateboard in motion, a see-saw and a bouncy floor pad – Green Tick icon above to show Emily likes Motion
  • Clumsy – a green cup of tea spilling and a baking bowl spilling dough out – Red cross icon above to show Emily dislikes being clumsy!
  • Sports – a football, a purple sneaker, a bicycle and a ping pong bat and ball – Green tick above to show Emily likes Sports and being active
  • Timing – A grey lift with up and down button and an escalator – Red cross icon above to show Emily dislikes using lifts and escalators
  • Rocking – A wooden rocking chair rocking back and forth and a wobble / balance board – Green tick above to show Emily likes to Rock back and forth to relax and whilst stimming
  • Tripping – A woman with black hair, green jumper and blue jeans tripping down a set of stone steps – Red tick above to show tripping is not a nice experience!

21andsensory Gift Guide! 🌲

A 3-part Christmas Gift Guide courtesy of me @21andsensory!

  • Memory / Photobook: Try websites such as Vista Print, Cheerz, Free Prints, SnapFish, Photobox, Papier, maybe do a 2019 memory book?
  • Tangle: Just such a great fidget, it’s so easy and simple!
  • Chewigem Hexichew: Great idea for more moderate-heavier chewers
  • Fluffy Socks: Who doesn’t love a pair of super cosy socks?!
  • Ear Defenders: Worth looking at the Kidz online store and their store on Amazon (they do adult ear defenders too – don’t let the name put you off!)
  • Stationary: Try pound/dollar stores, WHSmith, Target, Kikki K, Ryman, PaperChase, The Works, Flying Tiger, etc
  • Fidget cube: This is the official fidget cube from Antsy labs but there’s lots of versions all over Amazon and in toy stores
  • Plushies / Squishmallows: Worth shopping around on Amazon or looking in toy stores like The Entertainer
  • Bubble pop keyring: Again available in toy stores too
  • Activity books: HobbyCraft and The Works are great for activity books in the UK. Also again worth shopping around online and looking on Amazon
  • Scented candles: Yankee Candles can be quite overpowering sometimes so I recommend trying out candles before buying them or gifting a voucher for a candle store! Also supermarkets and places like TK/TJ Maxx do great more affordable scented candles that usually aren’t as strong.
  • Reuseable ear plugs: Worth shopping around for online or even getting fitted for you own pair
  • Marble Fidget: Can also be found in pound/dollar stores too
  • Weighted jacket: Honestly cannot recommend the Sensory Direct weighted jacket highly enough – I bought my own (not sponsored) and honestly love it. Even the hood is weighted!
  • Weighted lap pad: Also worth looking at all the weighted products on the Sensory Direct store.
  • Books on Autism: so SO many great books available online on Amazon and in book stores such as Waterstones.
  • Books by Autistic people: I only had room to mention 3 above but please Google books by Autistic people further – there are such a wide range of fab books out there to read I couldn’t possibly name them all. Also look back through my blog posts to see which books I’ve read and my reviews on them! Listed above is ‘Camouflage the Hidden lives of Autistic Women’, ‘The State of Grace’ and ‘How to be Autistic’.
  • Retro games / game consoles: Have a look online at CEX, Amazon, Game, HMV, etc
  • Music subscription: Worth looking into a Spotify or Apple Music subscription as a gift/voucher
  • Vinyl / CD’s: Your best bet is to look online, in local vintage vinyl stores or on sites like Ebay for some good finds
  • Lava lamp: Double check you buy one that comes with the bulb as they can be quite specific and hard to find!
  • Liquid timer: Also available online in sensory stores!
  • Chewigem Eternity necklace: A stylish yet chewable necklace
  • Soft toys: again worth looking on Amazon and shopping around different toy stores

  • Happiness book and so many happiness journal books are available these days. I would recommend looking online at Amazon reviews and in larger book stores too
  • Mindfulness book and again mindfulness journals can be found everywhere these days. I’ve found lots of stationary stores have ranges of them too
  • Sunglasses: Vouchers for/towards sunglasses or tinted glasses can be super helpful!
  • Sweets / Candy: There are cute subscription boxes that will deliver sweets/candy to your door monthly, or just buy some old fashioned sweets from a local store or pick ‘n’ mix!
  • Noise Cancelling headphones: Worth researching into both Sony and Bose noise cancelling headphones. They both seem to be leading the way in terms of NC / ambient sound reduction. Also some great (much more affordable) NC headphones are available on Amazon at different price points – great whatever your budget! Might be worth getting a voucher towards headphones as that allows the person to go into a store and try before they buy.
  • Chewigem Chubes: Great for tying to the ends of hoodie drawstrings if you are a nervous biter like I am and end up ruining the strings on all your jumpers
  • Peapod keyring: The cutest and most satisfying fidget!
  • Chewigem Twister Bangles: So funky and subtle at the same time.
  • Arts and Crafts supplies: Again pound/dollar stores are great for Arts and Crafts bits and pieces. Also have a look at stores such as HobbyCraft,
  • Puzzles: SO many great puzzles online at Amazon, The Works, Argos, The Entertainer, the list goes on…
  • Fairy lights: Battery and mains fairy lights can be bought cheaply from pound/dollar stores, Primark, larger chain supermarkets, etc

PHEW. Hope you found this gift guide helpful, I tried to link as many gifts as physically possible!

My Sunflower Lanyard and JAM Card 🌻

I wanted to share a photo of my sunflower lanyard / JAM card set-up! If you’ve never heard of it a JAM Card allows people with a learning difficulty, autism or communication barrier tell others they need ‘Just A Minute’ to process things / respond both discreetly and easily.

 Those with a communication barrier are often reluctant or unable to tell others about their condition and a JAM Card allows this to happen in a simple, effective non-verbal manner. 

JAM Card was originally developed for those with learning disabilities and difficulties. However, it can be used by anyone with a communication barrier. For instance, JAM Card can be used by people with Asperger’s or autism. It can also be used by those who have a brain injury and people who otherwise feel self-conscious about their ability to effectively communicate when engaging with others. 

Here’s the JAM Card website if you’re interested in finding out more information: jamcard.org

 You can choose which message you would like on the other side of your card: I have autism/Asperger’s, I have autism, I have a condition or I have dementia/memory problems..I ordered the plastic card holder separately via amazon and my badges are from @okay_doodle and @doodlepeople.

There is also a JAM Card app you can download for free if you don’t want to order the card. The JAM Card was the idea of NOW Group’s social forum Kidnap Wednesday, a group for adults with learning difficulties who meet weekly. The card is available in the UK and Ireland. Sunflower lanyards can be accessed via @sunflowerlaynardscheme or at most customer service desks in supermarkets.

Image ID: 

Image 1: A green lanyard with yellow sunflowers on a white background with a small ‘Just a Minute’ card next to it
Image 2: The other side of the card showing the text ‘Please be patient. I have autism.’
Image 3: A green lanyard with yellow sunflowers on with two badges pinned to it saying ‘Hello I am susceptible to Sensory Overload’ and ‘Loud noises startle me’, The ‘Just a minute card’ and a plastic ID holder.
Image 4: A close up shot of the green lanyard with yellow sunflowers on with two badges pinned to it saying ‘Hello I am susceptible to Sensory Overload’ and ‘Loud noises startle me’.

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! >>>