New Sensory Q&A ✨

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen over the recent weeks I’ve been trying out a new feature on the platform. I’ve been giving my followers the opportunity to ask me any questions they may have and then posting my answers via my Instagram stories. I bought it would also be worthwhile posting the questions and my answers below (all anonymous). You can still access all my question and answers on my @21andsensory Instagram profile page under the ‘highlights’ section. So here are the questions I have been asked…

What sensory strategy have you found most helpful?

I reckon the best strategies I’ve found are a combination of: sensory diet (e.g body brushing, weighted blankets, fidget toys) alongside occupational therapy which I’ve found to be the most helpful form of therapy. Basically what I’m getting at is that there’s no one sensory strategy…it’s lots of different things in combination that help me to function. And I can’t always function ‘normally’ which I’m starting to understand more.

Tips for travelling with sensory issues?

Ooh okay. Good question but a bit of a difficult one as I don’t tend to travel that much! I do go on trains and drive places, etc but I haven’t been abroad in years. I would say that distraction is the key 🔑. Using things like weighted blankets and jackets, fidgets, chewing gum, listening to calming sounds or music, etc.

Also I like to travel with my own washing detergent and same sorts of smells like deodorants and perfumes so that everything feels a bit more normal and routine. It’s all about making things more easier and comfortable for yourself.

Do you have any tips for how to help someone who struggles with taste and texture of fruit and veg?

I totally understand how much of a struggle this can be, especially introducing new foods (and weird textures are the worst!) I think just trying new foods little (portion) and often (as much as you can) and just trying to get used to the food in your mouth or even just holding it in your hand is a really good step in the right direction. Equally there’s lots of food/textures I just can’t deal with so I just steer clear of them altogether – this is totally okay and acceptable too.

What would one of your top tips be for supporting someone with SPD?

That’s a very good question 🤔 I think each person with SPD is completely different so it’s key to have a quick chat or conversation with the person to check if they are sensory defensive or sensory seeking or a bit of both! Just understanding what a person can and can’t tolerate means you are taking time to make their environment and experience that much more easier to cope in and this will help them to feel more confident. Also being understanding of the fact that we may use fidgets, body bushes, sunglasses, ear defenders, etc to allow us to cope in everyday environments means you are being super supportive ☺️

I think it’s important to have an understanding of sensory meltdowns and providing a quiet safe space or zone (even if it’s a loo break) can really helps people with SPD calm themselves down to avoid a meltdown.

What advice would you give your younger self in terms of understanding your own needs?

Definitely an interesting question. I think I am struggling to understand my own needs even now 😂 but I think I would say to my younger self to hang in there and that you’ll pick up little coping mechanisms and techniques that survive everyday living. I think I’d also say that sensory processing disorder and autism will become more and more well documented and understood as the years go by – so have faith!

And what advice would you give parents? Ps thanks for everything you post, it’s so helpful and insightful!

Another super question…I know it must be so difficult being a parent because you just want to support and help your child as best you can. I know this is super hard because you are unable to sort of see and hear what goes on in our heads and to understand what it’s like to be sensory seeking or sensory defensive.

I would suggest a great thing to start is creating a sensory bin/box with sensory toys and fidgets and allow your child to stim and explore different things. For example my mum always helped me by giving me opportunities such as having a swing in the garden, allowing me to trampoline and have weighted jackets and ankle weights. Feeding that need for self regulation by building up a sensory diet with your child ☺️

I think it’s so important to remember that your child is different and not less. All of my relatives know of my ‘special quirks’ and that’s okay because that’s what makes ‘me’ me.

Ps: Thank you so so much for this comment – it really does mean the absolute world to me! My aim after starting my blog and Instagram account was: if I can help or support at least one person then I will have done my little bit in this crazy old world!

What recommendations do you have for living with dyslexia and dyscalculia? Especially with schoolwork?

Again another great question! I think concerning school work and dyslexia / dyscalculia I tried to make everything as visual as possible. Lots of drawings lots of A3 posters (which I stuck in my bedroom and around my house!) in different colour pens with drawings so the information would stick in my brain. At uni I used to record every lecture via a dictaphone or on my voice memos on my phone so that I could always go back and re-listen to what they had said. This was especially helpful when it came to essay writing!

Do you ever notice if you’re being overstimulated until later on?

I am quite sensitive to literally the world so I usually become overwhelmed sensory-wise immediately after something like a loud noise or bright colourful environment 🙄 I will either escape to a toilet or outside to just get some quiet and calm or I will bottle up how I feel and have a good cry when I get home!

How do I catch my social mistakes? Or should I ask my peers to correct me?

This is always a difficult one. I think it’s okay to ask your family / relatives to maybe comment and suggest where you might be going a little wrong. I find peers and friends can be too critical and not always understand what difficulties I actually have. Much better to ask people who really know you well. I also think ‘neurotypical’ people make social mistakes too – so dint be too hard in yourself because it’s great that you are being social and meeting up with people ☺️

So there you have it – I tried to answer as best I could and I was really surprised and impressed at the amazing range of questions I was asked! If you ever have a question for me feel free to message me on Instagram, here in my blog comments or via my email: 21andsensory@gmail.com and I’ll always try my best to get back to you!

DIY Sensory Box: A VIDEO?!

I have decided to do post an updated sensory box in the form of a video (fancy I know…)

The last time I photographed my sensory box it was super popular (and was at the very start of my blog: see it here) so I thought it was worth doing an updated version. I’ve included all the things that I use apart from 2 things:

  1. My weighted blanket: It’s flipping huge and I can’t fit it in the box but it is something I use daily…
  2. My wave projector: Again it’s just too big to fit in the box but something I use every night!

Product Links:

Do let me know what you think and if you have a sensory box or fidget toy box too! Also do comment below this post if there are any future videos you would like to see from me.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel here!

I am a Chewigem Affiliate! They are company who have years of experience, designing, adapting and creating a range of chewing, fidget and sensory aids for children and adults. Check out their website.

What’s in my bag? 🎒

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So on my little podcast I record I did a new feature called: ‘What’s in my bag’. Above is a photo of my backpack and I’ve listed the contents below:

  • Medication: Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Cocodamal – pain relief on the go!
  • In ear phones – just standard Apple ones
  • Noise cancelling ear buds – bought from Amazon, they come in a little zip-up case
  • Nivea Essential Care lip balm
  • Rimmel Lasting Perfection Concealer – because spots can appear at any time!
  • 2 x Packets of Cous Cous – handy for lunch at work if I want to eat something I know and tastes quite neutral/not spicy!
  • My card holder with bank cards, ID and loyalty cards
  • Nivea wet wipes – handy if I get sweaty during the day and for cleaning my desk if it’s dusty!
  • Glasses Lens cleaning wipes – these are epic, they come in individual packets and I throw them in my bag to use to clean my glasses and great for cleaning screens too!
  • Glasses case
  • Pencil case: fineliners, mini ruler,
  • Tangle Teezer compact hair brush – literal lifesaver and I tend to use the Tangle Teezer as my main hairbrush as sensory-wise it’s nowhere near as painful as a normal hairbrush,
  • Phone charger – standard Apple lightning cable

Listen to the ‘What’s in my bag’ episode here: 21andsensory Podcast or search for ’21andsensory’ on the Apple Podcast app / Google Play music app.

A Sensory Book Review: ‘Baking for Dave’

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I have managed to finish the book ‘Baking for Dave’ (see my previous blog post – I’m known for my slow reading and slow processing speed so apologises for the wait!) so here is my book review…

Okay so firstly let me give you a little background in terms of the characters and storyline. The book is centred around a young girl called Iris Heller. Iris is 15 years old and has Sensory Processing Disorder. She finds it hard to cope with the outside world and becomes easily overwhelmed by lots of things such as loud noises, new places, meeting people, ordering at restaurants and changes in the weather.

Iris has coping mechanisms she uses in these situations such as humming, beatboxing, and making musical contraptions out of items around her. Iris lives with her mum Maisy but the book focuses on her quest to compete in a national bake-off contest. It’s the getting there that proves challenging though…

I don’t want to spoil the book incase you’d like to read it but below is a brief story description of the book taken from Amazon:

Iris Heller runs away to compete in a national bake-off contest. In order to get there, she “borrows” her mum’s car, travels through several states, and does the most terrifying thing of all — interacts with actual people! Iris has never been like other girls, but she’s not about to start letting that get in the way.

Iris has this profound fascination for the musician Dave Matthews, and she feels a compelling need to compete in the bake-off for Dave. It is this talent that gets noticed at several road stops along the way, which leads to her inevitable “gone viral” glory. At a donut shop, Iris sings like an angel. At a coffee shop, she plays a symphony using cups and the soda fountain. At a restaurant, she builds a glorious musical fountain out of dishes and pans. 

Iris’ mum (Maisy) and her best friend Eric set out to find Iris. All lives converge at Happy World, the Disney-esque paradise, where the bake-off takes place…

This book is absolutely ideal for anybody to read whether you have or know somebody with Sensory Processing Disorder or not! Also brilliant if you know someone who is a little bit sensory or autistic so I highly recommend to parents, carers, guardians, teachers, therapists and everyone in between.

I will be honest and say that I found it hard to read sometimes because of the sensory things mentioned so I stuck to reading it in small chunks and often. Iris tackles the most terrifying thing of all – interacting with new people along her journey. What I love about Iris is that although she is not like other girls, she doesn’t once let her sensory problems get in the way of her ambitions. Her family, friends and even new people she meets along her journey do their very best to try and accommodate her quirks and understand her more deeply which really was refreshing to read.

I was worried about how the book would end (what can I say, I hate a sad or happy ending I get emotional either way!) but this book surprised me by ending (no spoilers promise) in just the right way and it tied everything together nicely.

So what did I think overall? I saw so much of myself in Iris’s character. The way she struggles with new environments and forgets to breathe is a bit like me too! I learnt a lot from the main character actually, she comes across as the most genuine kind-hearted girl who brings the best out of the world and situations around her without knowing it. Despite the fact her life has been one of isolation and misunderstanding, she really does find out just how much she is loved in the end – definitely worth a read!

Buy a copy of the book in the UK here and in the US here

Note: I was given this review copy of the book free (which was super kind) but everything I have written really is my honest opinion ☺️

 

The Electric Toothbrush 🏁

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I bought an electric toothbrush (*shock horror*) and I am slowly getting used to using it. I have always found brushing my teeth particularly hard because it always seems to be overwhelming sensory-wise. I have to brush quickly and I apply a lot of pressure as I can’t stand light touch. My teeth definitely look better as a result of having an electric toothbrush as it really can brush places that I can’t reach so well (just wish it wasn’t so loud!)

If I really think about it I have always been rubbish when it comes to brushing of any sort. Brushing my hair, brushing my body with my sensory brush, I’ve always found it difficult to manage and deal with the odd sensation of brushing. However I have tried lots of different brushes, which others might find helpful in order to help desensitise your body:

Have you found any good brushing coping mechanisms or tools that work for desensitising yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

The Podcast Debate…

 

I’ve been thinking….(which is dangerous I know) about maybe possibly starting a podcast… What do you reckon? Would you find this useful? I could do episodes on certain topics and answer peoples questions on everything sensory and more. I could maybe even have guests on to talk about their experiences regarding sensory processing disorder, autism, ADHD, OCD, and more?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Going #dairyfree


I’m planning on going #dairyfree (for health reasons) for a week beginning on Saturday. Anybody got any good tips or snack/meal ideas? Will be making use of my #nutribullet 🌱🍎

Let me know if you are dairy, gluten, nut or anything-else-free and how you cope with everyday life in the comments below!

Don’t forget if you’ve got a spare moment to checkout my new Twitter account and vote for me in the UK Blog Awards (see my previous post!) Thank you ☺️