Sensory Book Review: Sneak Peek

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So the super lovely people at Sensory World (an American publisher who specialises in books on autism and sensory issues) have published a new title called Baking for Dave – a story of sensory processing, challenging yourself, and cupcakes!

In the UK, Eurospan is the distributor for Sensory World books, and they very kindly sent me a copy of the book to review! I am currently half way through the book (I’m a slow reader – sorry!) but I will be doing a review on my blog once I finish it – so keep your eyes peeled! 👀

Here’s a little bit about Melissa Palmer, the author of the book:

Melissa Palmer is a writer, nerd, baker, part-time kitchen dancer, and full-time mom. She pulls from her experiences with her own daughters — the two superheroes who shape and guide her life — to create the world and characters seen in Baking for Dave. 

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

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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 (try googling the list below!):

  • Baby Gum Brushes (these pop over your finger)
  • Baby teething toys (ones filled with liquid)
  • Tangle Teaser Hair Brush (much easier to manage)
  • Wilbarger Body Brush (therapy brush)

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!

Sensory Q&A Answers!

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Thanks everybody for your awesome questions! I got quite a few and I have answered them all individually below:

Which Disney character is your favourite?  What’s your favourite pizza topping.  What’s your #1 sensory nightmare?  #Thanks! From @adam62139
Hi Adam! Thanks so much for your question! Oooooh thats a difficult one. I am actually not a massive fan of disney (*hides from disney superfans*) I find disney films too much to handle emotion-wise because I cry at happy and sad parts! Butttttt if I had to choose a character I would maybe say Pip from the film Enchanted (2007). Pip is a chipmunk who is ADORABLE and I can do a great high pitched squeaky impression of him. I think Pip is small, challenged by the big outside world but is brave and tries to be fearless which is a bit like me…
I love PIZZA! I only eat margarita pizza though so my favourite topping is just cheese 😀
OOOOOOOH. Hard question there! I would say my number one sensory nightmare is being in a loud environment. E.g it could range from a concert environment to a loud restaurant! I am just awful with noise.
Have you used weighted blankets? If so, did you increase the weight of it as you grew?  Did you ever stop using it? From @mikeblair3
Hello! And YES. I love my weighted blanket and have used one since I was about 8ish years old. I got my current one from Sensory Direct (UK) on their website it states that:

‘One of the generally accepted principles of calculating the correct blanket weight is to take 10% of the users body weight and then add a pound. eg – if you have a child that weighs 5 stone this equate to 70lbs (5 x 14). Take 10% of 70lbs = 7 add a further 1 = 8lb blanket’

I definitely increased the weight as I grew as I found I needed more pressure and a longer blanket as I grew! I have done a blog post on my experience hiring and then buying a weighted blanket which might help further here

I unfortunately suffer a lot with night sweats so I find especially in the hotter months I have to sleep without it. I put my weighted blanket (in its own cover) over the top of my existing duvet.

Do you use any other tools or equipment to help? From @sensarounduk via Twitter
Hi! Good question – I have a Sensory DIY box that I use quite a lot. I find brushing my body really helps me and my mum is forever reminding me to do more brushing as part of my ‘sensory diet’. Sometimes I find a real need to walk and bang into walls and interact with the space (with my arms crossed over my chest so it doesn’t hurt) so I find things like walls are great for sensory input. Occupational therapy also works absolute wonders and equipment like awesome hanging swings, yoga balls, etc are also great for spatial awareness and getting sensory feedback. I also adore my ear defenders which are noise cancelling and help me cope in the world.
Hey! I have two questions, I don’t know if you’ve written about these things before here, but here they are: Do you use a time management or task management system? If yes, did it help with SPD? From M.O via comments.
Hi! Thats a great question. I literally LOVE managing my time and using to-do lists, schedules and mobile apps to help me be more organised. I use apps such as IOS Notes, Evernote, To-doist, Google Docs/Sheets, iCal and the IOS Reminder app to name a few! I also love to create mind maps and draw things to remind myself of objects, etc. Let me know if there are any good things you recommend or know of!

Do you feel scared when you have a melt down, not to be in control of your body? xxx From Many of Us 1989 via comments.

Hi! I do feel very scared and also very very alone when I have a meltdown because I cannot explain how I am feeling or acting. I can only express myself in physical emotions which is usually in the form of crying. Crying obviously draws attention to me which means I get asked a lot of questions but I can’t answer them as my body is effectively logging off and shutting down like a computer!If you look on the National Autistic Societies website theres a great quote: ‘If I get sensory overload then I just shut down; you get what’s known as fragmentation…it’s weird, like being tuned into 40 TV channels.’ This is exactly how I feel!

What are you most over and under sensitive to and what are your copping strategies? From Chrissie via comments.

Hey Chrissie! I am most oversensitive to:

  • Loud noises
  • New foods or anything with any herbs or spices
  • Sudden or unexpected touch
  • Most smells that aren’t neutral and I dislike people with distinctive perfumes, shampoos, etc.
  • Most textures (even underfoot when walking!)
  • New environments
  • Crowded places
  • Bright or flickering lights
  • Supermarkets – they are too colourful with all the products!
  • I have an inability to cut out sounds like background noise, leading to difficulties concentrating.
  • I have a low / non-existent pain threshold (even though I don’t think I do because everything that hurts REALLY HURTS to me!)
  • I can only tolerates certain types of clothing or textures.
  • And much, much more that I can’t think of right at the moment!

Under sensitive:

  • To the space around me. I cannot walk in a group of people – I constantly bash and walk into others!
  • I have to have tight hugs and use a weighted blanket because I find touch very difficult.
  • I have the need to rock and swing to get some sensory input.

 

Sensory Q&A!

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I know I haven’t blogged in around a month…so I thought it was about time to get back to it! I also thought I would do another Q&A as I got quite a few questions last time and thought some of my blogs new followers might have some questions 🙂

Feel free to comment a question below (it doesn’t have to be specifically sensory related don’t worry!) I will also post a tweet on my Twitter page asking for questions too.

Keep your eyes peeled for a post with all the answers soon…

Sensory & Alcohol

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This blog post has been in the pipeline for a while for a number of different reasons…

  1. It’s something I’ve always wanted to cover in more detail on my blog.
  2. It’s something that seems to be affecting me since I was 18.
  3. It’s something that continues to frustrate me.

Alcohol.

I don’t understand why I (or anyone else) should ‘have’ to drink to fit in.

I don’t understand why if I don’t drink I’m seen as being a ‘party pooper’ or ‘no fun’.

I don’t like the taste of alcohol. I could quite easily live in a world without it. But since having a boyfriend I feel I have had to introduce myself to alcohol so that I can fit in more and act my age. I am able to drink Malibu and Coke, Pimms and Archers with Lemonade.

I find it hard enough to cope in a busy, noisy, party-like environment as it is – I don’t need alcohol to mess with my thinking and senses further. I am aware drinking can somewhat ‘dull’ a persons senses but I really don’t think dulling my senses is a good idea… and even if it was, the feeling wouldn’t last forever and I’d be back to square one.

I like soft drinks. I am happy with them. I know what they taste like. I know what to expect. I know they aren’t too strong or weird tasting. They actually provide comfort especially when given to me in an unusual and unfamiliar environment.

Friends and family members continue to offer me alcohol because I am 22 and ‘it’s the done thing’. They know I’m not mad on alcohol but still offer me wine,etc. I appreciate when people buy me alcohol such as Malibu and coke because they know I like it. I also appreciate that people forget I don’t like alcohol when they ask me what I’m drinking or other questions.

Do you drink alcohol or not? How do you feel about the subject? Feel free to discuss in the comments below…

‘Making Sense’ Book Review

I was given ‘Making Sense: A Guide to Sensory Issues’ as a birthday present in May. I’ve finally had the chance to properly read it as I’ve recently finished and graduated from uni. The book is written by the lovely Rachel S. Schneider from Coming to My Senses (www.comingtosenses.blogspot.com) and here is a little bit of background on her:

Rachel always found herself particularly sensitive to light, sound, and movement, and she frequently felt disconnected from her body and anxious about the world around her. After years of misdiagnosis, she was found to have SPD in 2010 at the age of 27. Since 2010, Rachel has become an advocate and leader in the adult SPD community’ (Excerpt from Amazon ‘About Author’ section)

I always ALWAYS in the past have got my hopes up when I have been bought or given a book to read regarding Sensory Processing Disorder. However I usually find I end up disappointed as many books are based on toddlers and children and I just can’t relate to anything they say or suggest doing.

BUT…Making Sense is SO so different. This book is PHENOMENAL (This is not a word I use lightly or usually know how to spell!)

Rachel just ‘gets it’ she writes in a beautiful, comical, simple and engaging way that is easy to understand. I have learnt a huge amount from this book including…

  1. We have 8 senses?! Not 5!
  2. There are 3 sub-types of SPD – who knew?
  3. We have sensory organs (Interception being the ‘internal sense’)
  4. Our brains are fully developed by the age of 25 and what ‘neuroplasticity’ means and how important it is.
  5. The difference between a sensory meltdown and a sensory shutdown.
  6. Interesting studies that have / are going to research in SPD and links to neurology and possibly genetics.
  7.  Awesome treatments, therapies and tools for coping with SPD (weighted sleep masks and tinted glasses might just change my life!)
  8. How to stop bad thoughts from whirring around your head.
  9. How amazing ‘hitting the deck’ as an exercise really is and how to recover from a sensory hangover.
  10. What a ‘handler’ is and how important they are to anyone with SPD.
I have learnt so much that I had never come across before and I was diagnosed with SPD aged 8 (meaning I’ve read most sensory books, articles and websites out there!) and I promise you this book is just one of a kind. I don’t want to spoil or mention to much about the contents of the book in my review but I super dooper recommend buying it! It’s worth it and you’ll find yourself returning to it again and again.
One of my favourite quotes from the book is:
Someone with sensory issues doesn’t just merely end one task and begin another. We don’t simply leave the supermarket and step out into the street – we change sensory environments.

This is just SO true and something I relate to so much. I am constantly changing sensory environments and this is what’s super difficult about living with SPD. This is all invisible to everyone around me and Rachel just summed this up so well.

The book can be read cover-to-cover but also equally can be read by jumping to chapters you would like to read. One thing I want to just mention is that I found this book hard to read because of my SPD as things I read triggered feelings and my sensory problems. If you do have SPD don’t let this put you off at all just read it in chunks (which I did which turned out to be ideal).

However if you are a neurotypical or parent/guardian/therapist/etc you’ll have absolutely no problem reading it. I would recommend the book to SPD teenagers and adults but also parents of SPD people whether they are children or older. Rachel really provides an insight into everyday living with SPD that I feel everyone could benefit from reading and understanding.

The book has the most amazing illustrations done by the super talented Kelly Dillon from Eating off Plastic (https://eatingoffplastic.wordpress.com) I found I could relate to each illustration as they were so funny and true which made me laugh quite a lot…!

This book also touches on SPD in relation to mental health but also Autism (ASD) this was insightful. I learnt that SPD can mimic mental health disorders and although Autistic people have sensory difficulties, a person can have SPD and not be autistic (like myself).This was a super interesting read too as my brother is Autistic (he is a sensory seeker though, whereas I am a sensory avoider!) but I learnt so much about the similarities and differences between both ‘disorders’.

Okay so let’s wrap this review up nicely…This book is the most informative book on SPD that I have ever come across. This book sums me up as a person and I will be lending it to multiple friends and family because it really is so informative. This book really is phenomenal.

‘Making Sense: A Guide to Sensory Issues’ is available to buy on Amazon for £11.95 (totally worth it – treat yourself!)