Documentary Review: Aspergers & Me

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A couple of weeks ago I sat down to watch a documentary called ‘Aspergers and Me’ and I found it very thought (and feeling) provoking. I wanted to write a little review of it here on my blog to share with others…

The documentary follows a man called Chris who happens to be a BBC wildlife presenter. So here’s a little introduction to him:

“For most of his life, broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham didn’t tell anyone about the one thing that in many ways has defined his entire existence. Chris is autistic – he has Asperger’s Syndrome, which means he struggles in social situations, has difficulty with human relationships, and is, by his own admission, “a little bit weird”. (BBC Media Centre, 2017)

Like 700,000 or so others in the UK, Chris Packham is autistic – he has a developmental disability affecting how he relates to other people, and also how he experiences the world. Specifically he has Asperger’s syndrome. His documentary invites us inside his autistic world to try to show what it’s really like being him. He lives alone in the woods with his ‘best friend’ who is called Scratchy. Scratchy is THE CUTEST dog; but Chris also has a long-term partner, Charlotte, who discusses the problems Asperger’s creates in their relationship – she describes Chris as being sometimes “like an alien”.

Chris experiences the world in a very different way, with heightened senses that can be very overwhelming. He grew up at a time when little was known about autism. Chris wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s until he was in his 40’s.

However with todays modern and scientific advances new possibilities are being offered to treat his condition. In the documentary Chris travels to America to witness new and quite radical therapies that seem to offer the possibility of entirely eradicating autistic traits. On the flip side of this Chris also meets those who are challenging the idea that autistic people need to change in order to fit into society. He visits one of many special schools in the U.S where children undergo repeated behaviour modification, in order to try to make them more normal. This makes for uncomfortable viewing.

Chris continues his travels, this time to Silicon Valley, one of the places where people with autistic traits are making massive contributions. Tech companies are slowly breaking the stigma and learning about untapped talent of autistic people. These people who are considered and often referred to as weird, geeky or lonely are starting to run the world.

Chris ultimately explores the question of whether he’d ever want to be cured himself, or whether Asperger’s has helped make him who he is today…

Would he ever choose to be ‘normal’?

“I’m anything but normal,” he agrees, staring at the floor. “I experience the world in hyper-reality. Sensory overload is a constant distraction. I’ve just been for a walk in the woods, and it was very different for me than it would be for you – the sights, the smells, the sounds.” He frowns, and glances at his partner, 41-year-old Charlotte Corney. “But we need to go to the supermarket later, and I’ll do anything to get out of it because supermarkets are a swamping of the senses. The lighting is hideous, it’s crowded, and the complex of smells is overwhelming.”                                                   (Chris Packham, Radio Times, 2017)

He is very good at getting across some idea of what it’s like to have a brain that is different, the sensory overload he experiences, sounds, smells and tastes. But what if there was a way of taking away these autistic traits?

“If there were a cure for Asperger’s, I don’t know if I’d want it. Humanity has prospered because of people with autistic traits. Without them, we wouldn’t have put man on the Moon or be running software programs. If we wiped out all the autistic people on the planet, I don’t know how much longer the human race would last.” (Chris Packham, Radio Times, 2017)

That’s the key, Chris says: not trying to change people, but learning to better understand and adapting to accommodate them. And, with this awesome and insightful documentary, he is really doing something to help with that.

The documentary was first aired (UK) on BBC Two, Tuesday 17th October at 9pm.

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The Mystery Blogger Award!

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Firstly I just want to say a big thank you to the lovely Bec for nominating me.  I would definitely recommend popping on over to her blog here. Her blog focuses on anxiety/mental health and she shares some amazing thoughts and ideas on it!

This award was started by Okoto Enigma on her blog, it’s an award “for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts.” Click the link to the blog for details!

Here are the rules of this award:

  • Name the creator of the award and link their blog.
  • Place the award logo or image within your blog post.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog in your post.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer your nominator’s questions.
  • Nominate 10-20 people.
  • Ask your nominees 5 original questions of your choice.
  • Share 5 links to your best blog posts.
  • Notify each of your nominees by commenting on their blog.

Okay here goes…3 things about me:

  1. I love apples and blueberries. If I could eat them all day everyday I would.
  2. I love wearing Converses. I wear them 24/7 and luckily can wear them to work too!
  3. I love succulent plants I think they are wonderful.

If you could have the perfect 3 course meal, what would it be?

Ooooh. Okay erm…I’d say dough balls and garlic butter for starter (I love bland meals!) Veggie Spaghetti Bolognese for main meal and then definitely some form of ice cream for pudding!

What’s your biggest fear?

Now this is a tricky one. At the moment my biggest fear is socialising with people and loud noises! I am more then happy with great heights, rollercoasters, bugs, etc!

What would you say is your best characteristic?

Hmm. I love helping people out and problem solving things for people so I would say hopefully my best characteristic is being helpful 🙂

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I love anywhere by the sea so I’d either say maybe somewhere in Devon or Cornwall or even somewhere on the coast in Italy!

How are you today? (Strange question, but I want to know how you’re doing)

I think I’m okay today. I’m also excited because it’s Friday tomorrow which means the weekend and I get to spend it with my favourite person.

Okay here are my 10 nominations:

  1. highlysensitivelifeblog.wordpress.com
  2. sociallyawkwarrd.wordpress.com
  3. introvertedthinkingblog.wordpress.com/blog/
  4. sensitivegiraffe.wordpress.com
  5. potsitivityy.wordpress.com
  6. anonymouslyautistic.net
  7. myanxietydiariesblog.wordpress.com/about/
  8. sensoryseastar.wordpress.com
  9. inmyaspergersworld.wordpress.com
  10. mariner2mother.wordpress.com

And my 5 questions for the nominees to answer:

  1. What makes you smile?
  2. Where would you most like to go no holiday next?
  3. If you had one day completely alone how would you fill your time?
  4. If you could have any job besides the one you have right now, what would it be?
  5. If you could rewind 5 years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Lastly my five favourite blog posts I have written:

  1. My Sensory System
  2. Loud Environments
  3. Change and why its difficult
  4. Memes to do with me
  5. DIY Sensory Box

21andsensory Podcasts!

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So I went and bit the bullet as you can probably tell by the title…and my brand new podcast is live! My podcasts are on a site/app called Anchor – it’s a free podcast and audio platform. Feel free to sign up and create an account and you can download the mobile app and listen on the go (you can also listen without signing up!).

The Anchor app will allow me to record on the go (without a computer) so I can create podcasts anytime anywhere and add new content regularly! I’m hoping to use it as almost a form of an audio diary and share my sensory experiences as and when they happen! Tips and advice will definitely feature so watch this space…

You can search for my username on Anchor which is simply: 21andsensory.

Or listen here: Anchor FM: 21andsensory

Update: You can now also listen and subscribe to my podcasts on the Apple Podcast app here and on the Google Play store, just search for 21andsensory.

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 ☺️

 

200 Blog Posts!

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My last post discussing being sensational was my 200th post on my blog! I also now have over 260 subscribed followers of my blog so I thought I would take the opportunity to thank everyone for following – it means a lot that people actually read what I say and I absolutely love reading the emails and comments I get.

Don’t forget to check me out on Twitter and Instagram: @21andsensory

New Year, Same Me.

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Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a relatively calm and enjoyable time off. Also hope you all received nice presents (Anyone get any good sensory / therapy toys?)

So I noticed last week that there’s been a lot of New Year resolution’s and ‘fresh beginning’ stuff on the internet. People have been reflecting on 2016 and there’s lots of talk about ‘making everyday count’. That’s all fine and well but all this talk of change has got me thinking:

It’s 2017. But I’m still the same old me.

A new year won’t change who I am or magically improve my sensory problems. I don’t mean for this to sound negative and actually, in fact, I think it’s a positive. I remember always joking with my mum about how many doctors and therapists would ask me ‘If you could wave a magic wand at your problems…’ I won’t bother even finishing that sentence because the reality is that’s never going to happen and would only frustrate me further.

So I decided putting all these thoughts together that my own little unique New Year’s resolution is to challenge myself to embrace who I am more. I shouldn’t have to worry about being judged when I need to explain to people who just don’t understand the way I am and don’t ‘get’ me, and neither should you! So why not challenge yourself? It’s only day 9 of January and it’s not too late to have a go 🙂

To round this New Year’s post off I felt like writing a little insight (which happens to just link nicely with the main image above!):

I am always forgetting and then realising again that I will always be a little bit ‘sensational’.

And do you know what?

It’s more than okay to be sensational. 

(Drawing by  check out her work if you haven't heard of her!)