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:

An Instagram Q&A…

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Every so often I like to do a Q&A session on my Instagram Story. If you’d like to get involved do follow me @21andsensory. Here’s some questions from this week that I was asked:

Do you ever feel weird / different / insecure because of your Sensory Processing Disorder?

Great question. If I’m honest I do 100% feel weird because it’s like my senses are always on high alert and everything is too loud, bright, colourful, strong smelling, scratchy, etc! I do feel very different especially because of my age I think people expect me to be out 24/7, socialising, drinking, partying, that sort of thing. But…that’s why I made my blog and my Instagram / Twitter / Podcast! I really wanted to find others out there struggling with the same things daily and just talk all things sensory related and share tips and tricks. I’ve chatted to so many amazing people it makes me feel part of a community of other lovely people who understand exactly what it’s like.

What’s the first signs you notice when you’re beginning to be sensory overloaded?

Hmm. For me it tends to be my mood plummets and I have a ‘fight or flight’ response which means I’ll start to cry and escape the environment quickly. I’m quite good at removing myself (for example) from a loud situation if I’m starting to feel super overwhelmed or on the verge of a meltdown. Also I can get super hot or super cold and feel totally zoned out which is never very nice!

What happens to you when you’re in sensory overload?

Equally a good question but always a weird / hard thing to explain. It’s almost like I’m shutting down like  I’m shutting down like a computer I think. I feel totally overwhelmed , incredibly emotional, tearful, zoned out and generally odd. I bite my nails really badly and this ramps up even more during times like this. I can go quite non-verbal and not explain to anyone what’s really happening . I tend to find the nearest toilet that I can lock myself in and escape the environment or situation that started the overload. I retreat to my room and lie under my weighted blanket / duvet. I did then experience a sort of  ‘sensory hangover’ where I just need to be in a quiet place on my own for a bit to recuperate and feel better.

How does stress affect your ability to handle different sensory stimuli?

Stress makes everything sensory-wise like 100% worse. I find I can tip into sensory overload / meltdown much quicker when I am stressed and even a sudden noise or annoying smell can really grate on my nerves 😱 so I try and stick to routine and work the same hours each day and take regular breaks, etc. I also have a to-do list that keeps me on track daily in my life and work! I always try and avoid stressful situations where possible and say no to things like events I don’t feel I can handle.

How do you handle the overwhelm when you feel like you have made someone uncomfortable?

I try not to overthink things. The worst thing you can do is re-run over what you’ve said and over analyse things and it can lead to so much stress and unnecessary angst. I struggle with this as it’s so easy to lay awake at night and overthink things but just remember: the other person isn’t thinking about the conversation you had with them hours ago, they’ve moved on with their day and lives and I think it’s important to remember that a bit.

Not understanding typical boundaries in social or work context ie: talking religion at work?

This can be difficult because the boundaries are never very clear and I understand that. Try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes and think ‘could this spark a debate or upset somebody?’ before you go ahead and talk about it? For example I don’t talk about politics with anyone because I don’t understand it all! 😂 and I know people can be quite sensitive to that topic.

Do you ever punish yourself by not allowing yourself to stim?

No I don’t think so. If anything I’m the opposite and forget that swimming can help me which is why I have a post-it-note on my sensory / fidget  box that says *HELPFUL CRAP USE ME* 😂 😂 😂 I forget in times of overwhelm what helps me! Also just to add: you should never punish yourself for anything. Whether it’s stimming

I hope this was an interesting / helpful Q&A ☺️

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!