Change…🙅🏻‍♀️

A square digital illustration with a white background and a large title and subtitle at the top. The main title says ‘Change’ with ‘Autistic / Sensory Edition’ underneath it.

The main design is broken up into 8 sections with the following titles below each:
Organising and labelling: drawing of a stack of messy paper with an unhappy face above it on the left and on the right a stack of organised ring binders with a smiley face above it to show the change. A green tick is shown above this to show it s a positive thing.

Products that change: A drawing of a pink shampoo bottle, a roll-on deodorant and a packet of digestive biscuits. There is a green ‘new’ stamp in the middle of the three drawings and the words ‘ingredients and recipes’ around it to show the sorts of changes to these things that can occur. There is a red cross above this design to show it’s a negative thing.

Cleaning up at home: A drawing of a bucket with a spray and bottle of cleaning fluid, a washing up bowl with running tap and bubble and a hand cleaning with a sponge. A green tick is shown above this to show it s a positive thing.

Last minute change: A drawing of a February calendar month with some days crossed out completely. There is a red pen beside the calendar and a large ‘cancelled’ stamp over the top to show last minute plans being cancelled. There is a red cross above this design to show it’s a negative thing.

Decorating and painting: A drawing of a paint roller, a paint can, a grew tableside lamp, two blue and green colour paint swatch samples and a light blue sofa. There is a red cross above this design to show it’s a negative thing as change in scenery can be difficult to deal with.

New special interests: A drawing of a book with lots of page markers in it open at a double page spread of information, a magnifying glass, a red love heart, a tangle fidget toy and a google internet browser tab opened on a computer. A green tick is shown above this to show it is a positive thing as finding new special interests can be exciting.

Change in smell/ scent: A drawing of a perfume bottle, a lit candle, a washing detergent bottle and an air freshener hanging from a car interior mirror. There is a red cross above this design to show it’s a negative thing as change in smell /scent can be difficult to deal with.

Seeing growth: A drawing of a brain above 3 potted indoor pants with wording mental and physical surrounding them. A green tick is shown above this to show it is a positive thing as growth can be a good form of change.

Hi everyone! Here is a new drawing I did explaining how change can affect autistic / neurodiverse people and those with sensory issues. Below I’ve summed up some positives and negative parts about change. So here’s the little explanation of each doodle!

• Organising and labelling: I LOVE TO ORGANISE. It makes not only my space feel tidier but my mind too and I am able to more freely think. Also when it comes to paperwork I have dedicated separate folders for life admin, finances, freelance stuff, autism research, etc and although it took me a while to set-up it’s totally worth it in the long run! Now I don’t have to frantically search through paperwork to find things and dividers and my label maker = my best friends.

• Products that change: OMG do not get me started on thisssss. I will rant. Here goes. WHY DO PRODUCTS HAVE TO CHANGE? My safe foods get changed in the form of packaging or recipe and it just causes absolute chaos in my head. Also my shampoo changed its ingredients and branding / look and feel a while ago and I was NOT OKAY. I know many people like to buy products and clothing in bulk or multiples because they know it works well for them and they don’t want to find them gone the next time they go back.

• Cleaning up at home: Again a bit like organising things this gives me a sense of purpose and it’s a nice change to see in your house when everything has it’s own place and you know where to find things. I like dusting and cleaning my shelf’s and workspace regularly just to keep it clean!

• Last minute change: UGH. I hate when plans change last minute or something or someone cancels on you when you’ve sort of worked yourself up for something social. I know this is probably happening less as a whole due to the pandemic but even if one one cancels an appointment or video call with me its really unsettling.

• Decorating and painting: I am TRULY AWFUL when it comes to this. I find a change in my immediate environment HUGELY distressing. It took me ages to liking our family bathroom once it was renovated and it didn’t feel like my comfortable space anymore. I just hate visual change and I cannot describe my emotions or feelings (alexithymia) at all it’s just complete shutdown / meltdown inducing.

• New special interests…ARE THE BEST! It’s a good sort of change as you become deeply focused into a new topic and dive deeper into random wormholes and research avenues and truly loose and immerse yourself in information!

• Change in smell / scent: Again this is not cool. I can’t use an air freshener in my car because it’s so overwhelming to have such a strong scent in such an enclosed space and I stick to one detergent religiously because I can only stand that smell when it comes to my clothes (I even take it on trips with me I’m that rigid with it).

• Seeing growth: This can be both mentally and physically. If I try and challenge myself with a small bit of change I do see some growth in terms of succeeding at something I found difficult.

Disassociation and Depersonalisation 🧠

This is going to be a bit of a longer blog post, I wrote this in November 2020. I first started experiencing the things mentioned below in September 2020.

So I’ve been struggling a bit recently and I always get so much out of writing blog posts and really putting my thoughts down somewhere and I think it can be helpful to share my experiences (and you lovely blog readers always comment such helpful ideas and tips under my posts!).

So my struggles started a few weeks ago when I had a one weird moment of disassociation. Then it started it happen more, I’d have sudden moments where I’d disassociate briefly for a few seconds. So to describe the exact feeling I experienced I would look at my arms in front of me and not feel connected to them whatsoever. I was initially quite freaked out by the randomness of these moments but they then became more frequent and started to not seem so new.

It kept happening when I was brushing my teeth. It was like looking at my limbs and I just wasn’t in control of them at all yet they were still functioning and doing normal actions which was really weird. I almost wanted to keep slapping my forehead to feel more ‘present’ almost like I’d zoned out briefly. I think this relates closely to ‘Depersonalisation’ where a person experience a sense of disconnect from their body or a feeling of watching themselves.

Then it started to happen a bit more. For instance when I was driving. I’d be driving with my hands on the wheel in front of me (obviously!) but I wouldn’t feel like they were mine?! It was really odd. It felt like I was sat inside my brain like a visitor but I was looking at myself doing all these things but not really being there, I wasn’t right there in the moment experiencing things. I was obviously there driving but I couldn’t feel it at all…(but was driving fine).

It’s now getting to the point where I feel more and more like I am on auto-pilot. I go upstairs to the bathroom but don’t remember the feeling of taking the steps to get there like I don’t feel the process or the journey. I keep feeling this real disconnect from myself and my body. It’s happening when I’m driving like I can get from A to B absolutely fine but I don’t feel like I experience the journey – the bits in between the start and end of my trips.

I just don’t feel like I’m in the present and really experiencing things which is quite unsettling and it’s so hard to actually sum up what I am experiencing because I can’t liken the experience to anything else. It’s honestly the weirdest thing and doesn’t sound believable when I try and put it into words. I know that I am in control of my body and it’s mine but in those moments it really really doesn’t feel like my limbs belong to me in the slightest.

I know that dissociating is something that can happen as a way of your body coping with stress, trauma, etc by putting itself into this protective state. Mind (a mental health charity in the UK) has a really informative page on dissociative disorders here which I recommend browsing if you are looking for more info on the topic: More info on Dissociation and Dissociative Disorders from Mind UK

When I experience these feelings of dissociating I try to do some grounding exercises to put me back into the present, here’s an example:

  • Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you 👁
  • Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you 👉🏻
  • Acknowledge THREE things you hear👂🏻
  • Acknowledge TWO things you can smell👃🏻
  • Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste 👅

This can also be really helpful when I just feel generally anxious to because it’s a total distraction from my thoughts and feelings. I’m trying to be kind to myself and I think I’ll try and contact my doctor as I have a feeling it might be related to one of the medications I am on (and it’s always best to double check these things if you can, just in case!).

January 2021 update: I’ve spoken to a psychiatrist via telephone appointment which was really helpful and we are working out a plan of action with all the meds I’m on.

Lockdown Achievements 🏆

Hi everyone – I wanted to make a collection of achievement badges we might have made during Lockdown 3.0 (UK) but also during the pandemic in general…I’ve done a couple of these posts before (scroll back in my feed to have a look!). Here is my description of each:.-

  • Used my fidgets and enjoyed stimming: it’s hard to self-regulate as an autistic person / sensory being so using fidget toys and stimming is really a big achievement because you are essentially helping yourself to cope within this weird old world using these mechanisms. Stimming is such an expression of you as a person and definitely something to be proud of.
  • Indulged in my special interests: this is an achievement! Special interests are the BEST. I love hearing other peoples (feel free to comment yours down below!) and I am constantly outstanding by how knowledgable you all are on different topics!
  • Went outside (briefly…and within national lockdown guidelines): Going outdoors at the moment can be difficult due to the national lockdown restrictions and the awful weather. But even popping out for a quick walk or stretch in your back garden is an achievement worth celebrating.
  • Did a chore or life admin: Now this is huge. Chores and life admin tasks can build up very quickly so even attempting to start one of these is a huge achievement. 
  • Made time for myself: we’ve all heard it before, self care is important. Making time for yourself can literally be in any way you see fit – just taking time to have a nice bath, read a book, watch your favourite YouTube Channels or TV Shows on repeat is an act of self care.
  • Made routines and carried on despite it all: A lot of autistic people I have spoken to have really benefitted from creating routines and schedules within the past year in order to create some daily consistency and sense of normality. I write everything down in my muji weekly planner because my mind cannot hold any information in it so I essentially brain dump constantly into it! 
  • Spent time with my pet: if you have a pet you’ll how great they are in terms of company and just being (mostly) willing to be hugged and patted 24/7. If you don’t have a pet I know how hard it is currently to not be able to see friends with pets, not be able pet cute dogs you see in queues outside places or always be hearing of people getting new cute puppies and kittens. This sucks but soon I hope we can all get back out to see our furry friends. I am very lucky to be living at home with my family doggo (but I am desperate to one day get a dog of my own: a sausage dog!). 

Also: if you have a pet go pat it. Right now. Say it’s a pat from Emily 😉

IMAGE ID: A digital illustration with title ‘Lockdown Achievements’ with ‘Autistic / Sensory Edition) written underneath. 8 different shaped badge designs (mustard yellow, pastel green, purple, light green, light orange, teal and pastel pink) with the title wording in the description above in bold capitals and handwritten joined-up lettering. The shapes of the badges are all different, tag shape, rounded square, arched, triangular, arrow and circular).

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!

Fidget toys I got for Christmas…🌲

Hi everyone – I thought I’d do a quick little video do the fidget toys I got for Christmas – do let me know what you got for Christmas in the comments below!

Product Links:

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.

I was a guest on the BBC Podcast ‘1800 Seconds on Autism’ 🎙

Hi everyone! Exciting news…I was on the @bbcsounds podcast 1800 Seconds on Autism! I chatted to Jamie and Robyn who are the hosts.

Listen here

Here are the show notes:

We chat about “scripting”, the rules of eating that no one tells you about, and avoiding crunchy food. This all comes before an email from a postman sparks lots of happy stimming.

Emily from @21andsensory explains how her autism diagnosis was given to her in a really positive way and on what occasions she uses the sunflower lanyard to show she has a hidden impairment.

We finish with tips for how to do Christmas in a helpful way for the autistic person in your life. 

Presented by Robyn Steward and Henry, Jamie Knight and Lion. Produced by Emma Tracey.

Listen via your smart speaker by saying “Ask the BBC for 1800 Seconds on Autism” or subscribe on BBC Sounds or wherever you usually get your podcasts!

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!

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’.