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!

Self Isolation Achievements ✅

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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).

I was interviewed on the ‘Thoughty Auti’ podcast! 🧠

Hey everyone! Last week I was interviewed by the lovely Thomas from @aspergersgrowth on his podcast ‘Thoughty Auti’.

It went live last Saturday so go check it out! It’s everywhere you’d normally listen to podcasts and also on his YouTube channel too! Was such a nice chat and we talked all things sensory and autism related. Let me know what you think 💭

Links to the podcast:

Or search ‘Thoughty Auti’ wherever you usually listen to podcasts!

Aspergers Growth / Thomas’s links:

It’s that time of the year again: Halloween 🎃

It’s that time of the year again: Halloween 🎃 I hope everyone has a Halloween that suits them – whether you are going all out and dressing up, trick or treating or even partying (or if you’re just having a nice quiet night in with a book and a bath!)

I’ve done a little doodle above describing some of the things we autistic / sensory people struggle with when it gets to this time of year 🍂 It can be quite an overwhelming season (Halloween, Bonfire / Firework Night and then the Christmas festivities 😱) it all seems to follow one another in quick succession!

What is masking? 🎭

Hello everyone I’m here again to share another little doodle, this time on masking 🎭. So what actually is masking? Masking involves trying to hide being autistic so others will accept us. It’s also referred to as camouflaging. This means we act in ways that other people will think we are ‘normal’ and to try and be accepted socially. My doodle includes a few examples of trying to mask.

Over the course of my life I feel I have perfected the art of masking (which isn’t necessarily a good thing). I am extremely good at with-holding my feelings and emotions, bottling them up until I get home. I would cry when I had to go to primary school each morning. Then speed forward a bit in time and I’d come home from secondary school each day very tearful. I even used to cry up in the SENCOs (special needs support) room at break and lunch times because secondary school is quite literally THE most overwhelming place I have ever had to cope in 👀. But slowly through sixth form and university I began to build up a resilience to the world and although I still get overwhelmed I can always come home, have a bit of a sensory meltdown (and a good cry) then move on with things.

Socialising will always be hard for me and I think I will always cope with the world like this. But that’s okay. I have to actively remind myself that ‘normal’ isn’t real. And I think you should too. Masking is an autistic and sensory way of coping with the everyday and just trying to get by. Now that is brave. To go out in the world and just exist is a huge thing. Do you have any tips related to masking? Feel free to share below ☺️

Why not pass on a smile today? 🙂

IMG_0164.PNGA smile can go a very long way. Why not challenge yourself to share a smile? It can be with friends, family, someone at work or school or even a passer-by. Just a little smile of acknowledgement can really make someone else’s day.

I’m learning that the little things in life are just as important to hold onto. Everyone seems to be growing up super fast around me and I still feel like I’m just behind everyone else. Obviously social media and comparing my life to others really (really) doesn’t help but it’s frustrating when all I see is other people hitting big milestones or doing epic things. I know these things would never suit me but I think it still affects me.

I will always be that little bit different… but I think being sensory might just be a super power 😉

Badges from Etsy! 🛍

I recently had a ‘lil look on @etsy as I wanted to get some cool badges I could wear on my hoodies and jackets that might represent me and maybe also highlight to other people about my sensory needs. Also I wanted to support some independent shops / artists and I always hear such good things about Etsy shops. So I somehow stumbled across these two lovely shops:

@Okaydoodle does the CUTEST badges 😍 I’m obsessed with the little speech bubble designs 💬 they are bold and simple and I really like the size of them – they don’t feel heavy and look great on a denim jacket!

@Doodlepeople make the beautiful badges that start with ‘Hello I am’ and come with so many different options! There really is something for everyone and I was so so impressed to find a badge relating to sensory issues 😍 and the suspected autistic one as well is lovely as you don’t feel like you have to have a diagnosis (or if your on a waiting list for an assessment) it just works really well.

Honestly recommend checking out both these shops (click on their links below!) postage was super fast for both shops and I really would recommend them! Have a little look at the badges in the slideshow below…

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Mental health = Confusing 🤦🏻‍♀️

Hello everyone – hope you’ve all had a good weekend. As well as sharing my drawings I’d like to share my thoughts and ideas on my Instagram as well 💭 mental health (to me at least) = confusing. My mental health is confusing to me because my issues and feelings 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 also think it’s great that self care is becoming more of 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 is always tough to deal with but I try to make time for self-care and enjoying the little things in life (e.g like running a bath, reading a good book, drawing,etc).

Yes, I have my own mental health problems. But I am always here to chat if you feel like you need someone to talk to or just a bit of support. (Please feel free to share my drawings just credit @21andsensory)

Say no to clothing labels! 🚫

Ah clothes… 👕 They’ve always been a problem for me (and I’m sure many of you out there too). The struggle to find clothes without super annoying tags/labels and be made of a non-itchy / bearable fabric is SUCH A PAIN.

I understand why tags and labels are inside clothes to give us size/washing/manufacturer information but what I don’t understand is why they aren’t easily removable. I either suffer with a tag in a t-shirt or the back of my jeans or I cut them out and suffer with the STILL scratchy bits of tag left behind. I think we’ve all accidentally made holes in t-shirt trying to remove annoying tags.

I have some good go-to brands when it comes to label-free clothing, recently I found clothes in Uniqlo such as t-shirts and jeans without a tag at the back. Yes it’s a miracle and yes I got excited. Does anyone else know of any reasonably priced clothing brands that come without tags? Please share in the comments below – I’ll be eternally grateful!

My mum was telling me about M&S (UK) who have an adaptive clothing range for children (up to age 16) with disabilities which is fab and has been expanded since launch. There are around 1.5 million children in the UK who have a sensory or physical disability and so it really is a great step in the right direction (teens and adults next? I hope!).

It’s hard to explain but if you are a sensory-being like me a simple tag can really overwhelm you. Imagine having something that irritates you and affects your mood throughout the day – it’s such a small thing but I have had tags cause me huge meltdowns because I just cannot function with it touching and hurting me.

This overwhelm also applies to uncomfy clothes, aka special occasion clothes. I do not feel naturally comfortable in a dress/skirt/tights/fancy top/etc but I am able to wear these when I have to and the occasion is fancy (ugh)…I will however immediately put on a jumper and jeans on arrival home 😀

Another little drawing by me – feel free to share but please credit @21andsensory – thanks!