Autistic and trying to be happy. Happiness is something that I keep hearing a lot about’ but are you happy?’ and ‘do what makes you happy’ but here’s the thing…
I am a natural people pleaser. I care a lot about other people’s happiness and have never really cared for my own. I love to make other people happy and I put others first all the time. But my own happiness? That’s much harder to navigate and for me…and something that is difficult to see in myself. I am someone who struggles with Alexithymia so I cannot always put into words how I feel or what I am feeling inside. This makes happiness very difficult because I don’t actually always know what happiness ‘is’ if that makes sense? Like how do you define a mood?
That was a bit deep. Anyway…what I am getting at is that I am trying to be happier as an autistic person and do things more for my own happiness. I have a lot of very random autistic struggles that seem to pitch up out of nowhere (and I know so many of you too do). It’s flipping hard to be happy when you seemingly cry for no reason or become overwhelmed at the slightest thought, feeling or sense not being filtered properly.
I am still trying to be happy with who I am because I constantly have this thought that I am a ridiculously complex individual. But I think a lot of us are. And that’s what makes us who we are… and super interesting human beings. I’m off to go and find some little moments of happiness. I hope you can do the same too.
(I’ve now said the word happy to many times it’s starting to feel weird and sound different…wah!).
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve felt this statement a lot. I am trying my best each day to muddle on through life in general. I feel like a lot of my life has involved ‘muddling on through’ things that seem to come naturally to other people.
But: I always try my best. I am super dedicated and hyper focused when it comes to producing the best output I can. However…trying my best takes a hell of a lot of effort as an autistic person. It’s keeping up a constant ‘mask’ or ‘act’ in most social situations. It’s suffering from sensory overwhelm and autistic burnout on the regular. But you’d never know it from looking at me. And you’d never know it when looking at others. I think we all just need to be aware that everyone in life is muddling through things and nobody really has it figured out.
That was a ramble but the short of it is: I’m going to keep muddling through. And so should you.
(Also sorry if muddling is a British sort of word to use but it resonates with me! It means to think or act in a confused or aimless way).
Hi everyone – I’m going to start a little text-based Sensory Series!
I’ll be sharing text slides on different aspects of Sensory Processing (in between my regular posts of illustrations) so I can share my own outlook on all things sensory. I thought it would be interesting to share my own experiences, tips and tricks along the way.
Check out this awesome article on Discover Pods website that my podcast featured in!
Also just as a side note (on a topic I don’t really mention but it relates to podcasting)…
If you’d like to support my podcast and its production it would mean a lot if you’d like to donate anything via my Kofi link below. I totally appreciate any form of support (when people like, share and comment on my work that’s amazing!) but if you’d like / are able to support me further that would be awesome. I currently do all of my 21andsensory work in addition to my day job, so I illustrate in my spare time and I liaise with guests, record, edit and produce my podcast on my own.
I am also considering starting a Patreon page in order to share exclusive content like videos, behind the scenes photos, written posts and extra podcast episodes so keep an eye out for that potentially!
Anyway…I just want to say thank you for all of your continued support, I super appreciate it.
Hi everyone, here is a new drawing I did explaining what a nightmare clothes shopping can be for autistic and sensory people! (aka meeeeee)
*Needs new clothes* – I have trusty go-to t-shirts, jeans, etc that I find comfy and wear until they quite literally are falling apart. I’ve been like this since I was a child, I could never let go of clothing and really would wear things to the bitter end.
Tries searching for exact replacements – this requires much searching online for exact replacements (this is a pain because clothing lines change so frequently and I never think to buy multiples in case I don’t like them…and then I do like them after a while and it’s too late!)
They arrive and get put away… so I cut every single conceivable tag, label, instruction booklet out of them and neatly fold or hang them up which is super satisfying and I genuinely feel quite happy that I’ve managed to come across clothing I might be able to bear.
3 years later…still feel too new to wear. DAMN IT. They ALWAYS, alwaysssss still feel way too new to wear. Sometimes washing the clothes a few times helps with this feeling but I am an absolute nightmare when it comes to wearing new clothes (so much so that I prefer to shop second hand a lot as then clothes feel more worn in and after a few washes smell okay enough to wear).
Things I have found that help: I get this a lot with shoes. It can take me YEARS to get into new shoes. Again buying them secondhand from places like @depop help but if I do decide to get brand new shoes (a tip my mum came up with) is to take them out of the box and put them in my room so I get used to the look of them and them being part of my life.
It sounds ridiculous I know but it really is an autistic / sensory thing – I am awful with change and new things and I am much kinder to myself now knowing I am autistic and that this is just a part of who I am and how my mind operates.
Do you struggle with clothing? Any top tips you have feel free to share in the comments below!
Hi everyone. Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Within World Autism Awareness Week. Within World Autism Awareness Month. (Phew that’s a lot to get your heads around!)
I’ve felt very split about doing a post centred solely around Autism Awareness Week as I am very aware of the online discussions centred around it and many people mentioning that it should be centred around acceptance and understanding rather than just ‘awareness’ of autism.
It’s a tricky one.
I love how Victoria from @actuallyasplings worded her most recent post, she honestly sums up how I feel too so I’ve pasted what her post said below:
‘This week is Autism Awareness/Acceptance Week, the one week where everyone hypes up the awareness. I’ll be honest though; we do need more awareness, but without acceptance what’s the point? I also think awareness should be all year round, not just April; and I think we should be accepted full stop.
I’ve seen so many puzzle pieces, and so much about AS, and honestly, this is not what we want or need. What we need is appreciation, inclusivity, and support. There are so many wonderful accounts striving for change, using their activism/advocacy to break stereotypes and this is what we need. People need to listen to Autistic voices, rather than try to silence our views. We are here to educate and inform, we have the lived experience and we want people to feel like they can ask questions and learn from us.
By all means, celebrate April how you wish, but please take Autistic people into consideration. Share our accounts, our posts, and more importantly listen to what we are saying’
Victoria did such a great job of describing how I was and still am feeling about World Autism Awareness week. Yes awareness is great but we want and deserve more as Autistic people. We really do deserve acceptance, understanding and respect.
Also just wanted to say that my latest 21andsensory Podcast episode has gone live and you can listen down below! I am uploading them every two weeks at the moment.
In this episode I speak to Glenn who is the manager of Waltham Abbey Focus which is a disability and SEN football team at the top of their game! Glenn chats about all things football-related and we discuss a documentary that’s being made about the team with the intention of raising awareness of disability football, and promoting it as an inclusive sport that can be enjoyed by everyone.
A blog post has just gone live on The Department of Experimental Psychology website to coincide with World Autism Week as a useful resource to help people better understand what it means to be an autistic person with sensory processing difficulties.
Hi everyone I’m back again with another lil’ drawing of a very sensory based grounding technique I find useful when I am anxious. You may of heard of it before, it’s usually referred to as the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. I find it useful because I am (obviously) a highly sensitive individual and it distracts me to tune into each sense separately (might be hard to do in a busy situation but I find it helps in most other situations!). It just turns your thoughts entirely to your senses and off cycling and worrying thoughts even if it’s only briefly. Below are some pointers that might help you…
👁 Really look for 5 things you can see: what’s in front of you? Really look and pick out some small details, maybe it’s a wooden surface which you can see the grain of, your own hands and your fingerprints, the fabric of some curtains and the way they hang, the specific colour within something like a hanging picture, what’s pleasing or not so pleasing to look at?
✋ Feel 4 things with your hands or even feet as you walk (please be careful in these COVID times with this though!) the fabric of your own clothes, the seat you are on, if outside the grass or pavement or brick wall you pass by. Even just the sensation of your feet within your shoes, try and really tune into that feeling.
👂Acknowledge 3 things you can hear right now. Can you hear traffic in the distance? Conversations going on a couple of rooms away? What can you tune into? Even if it’s a ticking clock, sound of a pet pottering about…
👃 What 2 things can you smell? Maybe it’s your own deodorant, perfume or aftershave…or someone else’s? Or the smell of a room, cooking smells, air freshener or cleaning smells, etc. Is there any sort of smell to the air surrounding you?
👅 Can you taste anything? Even if it’s a drink you’ve just had or something you’ve eaten is there any taste at all in your mouth?