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!

A new drawing and a new podcast episode…✏️🎙

Here is drawing number four (part of a series on our 8 senses, scroll back to see my previous drawings!) ✏️ which is all about auditory processing and dealing with sound….

  • Water flowing is something I find really calming to listen to and grounding, keeping me present in the moment. I love listening to the sea, and running baths whilst sat and listening is something I find very theraputic (to the extent where I’ll ask my family if anyone is planning on having a bath so I can listen!)
  • Surprise noises! Ugh they are the worst and I think alot of people will be able to resonate with me on this one. I’m talking about abrupt fireworks, loud babies and children crying (makes me feel upset / emotional I have no idea why), noisy clocks ticking, loud sneezes, that sort of thing.
  • The sound of nature is fab. Just getting out and away from screens and noisy town traffic for a walk has definitely been something I’ve been enjoying over the past few months. 
  • Noisy eaters…I appreciate a lot of people don’t know that they eat nosily or actually might not be noisy eaters but I LITERALLY PICK UP ON EVERY SOUND around me which is frustrating! Also weird sensory thing: I cannot stand the noise of drinks pouring. I don’t know what it is but I hate the ‘glug’ / ‘glugging’ sound as it pours into a cup – it sets me on edge. 
  • Repetitive sounds, I understand that these are important, such as ambulance sirens, loud halers, fire alarms, they are alerting us to important things. It’s just they can make me jump and feel overwhelmed / unsettled very quickly. I’m an expert at masking this when I am out and about.
  • Music and podcasts are something I naturally gravitate towards. I am definitely more into podcasts than I am music (I get songs stuck in my head very easily which is very annoying so I can never listen to music in the evening otherwise I go to bed with a song on loop in my head!). I like to work and listen to podcasts on loads of different topics such as crime, policing, graphic design, illustration, autism, mental health, self care, science, technology, etc.
  • Construction and building work…again I’m sure lots of people can relate to this one! There is nothing worse sensory-wise then the constant background noise of construction work. It’s unpredictable, varies in noise levels and can mess with my mood instantly.
  • Hearing protection is THE BEST! Ear plugs, earphones, over ear headphones, wireless headphones, ear defenders the list goes on. They can really help surviving in loud environments and blocking out varying levels of sound.

Let me know how you cope with sound and which sounds you love / hate in the comments below!

Also…I released a new podcast episode yesterday…

Episode 23: Special Guest, Allie from @whensouthmetnorth

In this episode I was joined by the the super lovely Allie (@whensouthmetnorth). Allie is an autistic creative and advocate who alongside her current postgraduate study (a masters degree in Education Research at the University of Oxford) is also a research consultant for Neuropool which is a start-up for supporting neurodivergent people run by neurodivergent people. Allie has a special interest in creative writing and is a published poet. She is currently writing a novel and also drafting her first ever play script, which features an autistic protagonist.

So here’s what we chat about:

  • All things autism related…her journey to diagnosis and her autism assessment experience
  • Life throughout secondary school and university and coping in a sensory world
  • We touch on relationships with friends, family and partners
  • And…annoying noises we both can’t tolerate!

Apple Podcasts   Google Play Music  Overcast   Pocket Casts  Spotify

21andsensory Christmas 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,
  • 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: 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!
  • 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!

Public Transport Doodle ✏️

Coming back at you with another doodle, this time about coping on public transport! 🚌

I’ve had 3 (day long) training courses in London throughout November (you might have seen some photos on my Instagram Stories which are now under my ‘London Trip’ highlight) 🇬🇧Commuting is hard like generally (I don’t think anybody truly loves commuting especially not long distances) but commuting can be just that bit more difficult for those who have sensory issues and are autistic.

It can be loud (like underground tubes seem to squeal on the tracks in London 24/7…listen below!

Add to that the change in smells, proximity to other people and just general rush everyone in it can be very overwhelming. It’s disorientating at the best of times trying to find your way around train stations, bus stations, airports etc!

So my doodle above includes some things that have helped me before. Of course (as always) I can’t include everything in one small drawing and these thing may not help everyone but I thought I’d share the sensory aids I use. Any top tips for using (or just generally surviving) public transport? 🚃

Products from my doodle:

Steam trains and sensory meltdowns…🚂

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Yesterday I went to see my work friend who volunteers at the weekend on steam trains! (Pretty darn cool right?!) 🚂

She’s been volunteering for 2 years and I’ve being meaning to come and visit her on the railway for ages. I had a bit of a wobble as I missed the first steam train that she was working on that was due to depart at 11am because the car park was so rammed full I had to park elsewhere and walk to the station.

I got upset (it took me an hour to drive and I was anxious to get there okay and this sort of ruined my routine a bit) so after a *little* cry I was fine and went into the town to have a sit down over a hot drink.

SO after I reconvened with myself (lol) and got myself in a better headspace I walked back to the station for my friends 1pm train! I’m so glad I stuck it out because I had such a good time – my friend let me come up onto the actual steam train to look at the engine and meet the rest of the crew.

I’m sharing this because I think it’s important to be honest with you all and to share what a meltdown is sort of like. How do you manage when you get overwhelmed or your routine changes? Let me know in the comments down below ☺️

The world is too loud today 🌍

IMG_0203Hi everyone ☺️ Here’s a quick little doodle I did (which describes a couple of days I’ve had this week!) you know sometimes when the world around you just feels a bit louder then usual? 🔈 It can affect your mood and for us sensory-beings can lead to overwhelm 🌍

I work in an open plan office which can get loud as people pop by each other’s desks to chat 💬 instead of booking meeting rooms. I can deal with this to some degree but sometimes it gets too much and then I know it’s time for a lil’ walk out of the office for a bit or to the toilets just for 5 to get a bit of quiet 🤫

How do you cope when things get too loud for you? 📢

Fidget & Stim Subscription Box! 📦

This subscription box was kindly gifted to me by James Dickenson from Adapted James (@adaptedjames on Instagram) and on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AdaptedJames

The boxes explained: The subscription boxes are once a quarter (every three months) and they are themed. There are three tiers, the bottom tier having something to do, something to squish, a neurodiversity badge, a fiddle puzzle, and 2 more stim things.

Tier 2 has everything from 1 and a chew, and tier 3 has everything from 2 and a fiddle mat. You can also buy them as one off boxes from the Adapted James Etsy store for a few pounds more (which means that you can still get the box that I was sent)

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Spot the dog…😉

The search for noise cancelling headphones…🎧

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You may have seen on my instagram stories that I have recently bought a pair of bluetooth wireless headphones. I’ve been pondering (actually obsessively comparing and watching youtube reviews) on which were the best brand to invest in for months. I haven’t ever owned wireless or noise cancelling headphones but I knew I needed some as soon as more people moved into my office at work. The background noise can get too much and tip me over the edge mood-wise.

So I went for the Sony WH-1000XM3 and I am loving them so far. So it took me a while to unbox them (I’m rubbish at opening new stuff – I still have new shoes I’m struggling to get into!) and I shared the process of unboxing them and pairing them with my phone on my stories (if you’d like to have a look just click on the ‘Sounds’ highlight under my instagram profile).

So far they are SUPER comfy. I was really worried about them sitting funny over my head because of my glasses and the ends of them pinching behind my ears. But I can confirm: they are 10/10 great pick for glasses wearers.

They have active noise cancelling and ambient noise mode settings depending if you are sitting, standing and travelling. ALSO: If you are listening to music and someone comes up to you for a conversation / you walk into a coffee shop to order something you can just place the palm of your hand over the ear cup and instantly hear what’s being said in the place around you! Such a clever feature that also means you don’t have to take your headphones on and off all the time.

I am yet to try them on public transport but even in a quiet environment they’ve been fab. They have 30 hour battery life (38 hours without noise cancelling on), an option to switch to wired connection if they run out of battery and an accompanying app that has oodles of different features and sound configurations to play and test out.

Would you be interested if I did a little review post here on my blog after I’ve used them for a couple of months? Comment down below!