You’re a limited edition

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It’s so true. Every single one of us. We are all limited editions and nobody is the same. Sometimes this is a bad thing. Living in 2018 makes me feel like I want to conform, fit in and be considered ‘normal’. It means I am constantly comparing myself to others and wanting to be just like them (and yeah social media doesn’t help all this 🤦🏻‍♀️)…

But I’m trying super hard recently to embrace that I’m a limited edition.

Yes I’m very different and some people might think I’m a bit odd, weird or special. I’m trying to be more upfront and honest when I’m struggling and also I’m trying to explain my sensory difficulties a little bit more. And I’ve never done that before. I’ve never out-right said: ‘I have Sensory Processing Disorder and this is what it means for me…’ but the other day I said this in conversation (relatively briefly) andI wasn’t made to feel small or different.

And that felt great.

So anyway this was a bit of a ramble. But on more thing I wanted to mention was that recently I’ve been speaking to a few different people via my @21andsensory account on Instagram through direct messages.

It’s incredible how many people are struggling to understand themselves and make sense of their place in this weird old world. People I’ve spoken to just want to be ‘normal’ and fit in with their peers be it at school, college, uni, work, life in general, etc. We put this pressure on ourselves and mask our true feelings and needs. I have days where I am so desperate to be ‘normal’ and be able to cope in social situations and new environments that I come home and feel incredibly down and very lost.

But…on the good days I am proud of how I challenge myself and try to do new activities. I am able to cope on public transport without getting hella sweaty and cold with fear (thank god for contactless payments, it’s so much quicker and I used to have to hand over sweaty change ALL the time!). I am able to make conversation more fluently and find I am less stressed over eye-contact and I know when to talk.

On days like these I feel like a sort of super-hero (let’s go with spiderman🕸). I have spidey-senses that tingle. I can hear layers upon layers of noise, I can smell things from what seems like a mile-off, I can immediately identify the nearest toilet to escape to in busy locations, I can smell spices and seasoning and avoid eating anything too strong or spicy, I can find nice quiet places to eat and shop without constant blaring ‘background’ music (IT’S NOT ATMOSPHERIC IT’S BLOODY ANNOYING. Rant over ☺️)

So what I’m trying to get at is that there are/can be positives to being you and being a limited edition – you just have to hold out for those good days. I know that’s a rubbish line, especially if you are going through difficult times. There’s nothing worse then someone saying ‘things will be better soon’ or ‘you’ll get through this’ because all you want to know is WHEN? Like a time/date/month/year would be handy?

If I’m honest I’ve had to wait months to feel like I’ve had some ‘good days’. This made me quite sad because as a 24 year old I should be out living life to the max (not like too close to max though…I’m a sensory-being let’s not forget!). This past month I have noticed I have enjoyed things much more. I have felt less emotional and I feel like I am struggling less with being unable to express how I feel. I’ve had good days. I think this could be down to:

  1. The right concoction of medication helping me to feel much more stable emotionally and mood-wise.
  2. Having / finding things to look forward to. This is huge. Before I felt so empty and like there was nothing to strive for.
  3. Appreciating the little things more. Like going out for a tea/coffee or tidying my room in order to keep my mind tidy too. These things can bring me joy.

So to summarise: yup, every single person in this world is a limited edition, and despite social media depicting our best-selves, we are all trying to navigate this weird-old world and… I think it’s okay to make some mistakes along the way.

 

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I was interviewed!

Hello. This is just a little blog post to say: I was interviewed on a podcast!

The lovely people from Chewigem interviewed me and the episode titled: ‘SPD and adulthood with 21andsensory’ came out today! If you have a spare moment why not check it out here:

https://chewigem.podbean.com/e/spd-and-adulthood-with-21-and-sensory-sensory-matters-31/

Also you can check out the podcast here on Apple Podcasts

I’d love to hear your feedback and any comments you have ☺️

Chewigem October Offer…

Hi everyone! I thought I’d mention that Chewigem have an awesome October offer on their skull and cat pendants…

BUY ONE GET ONE HALF PRICE!

If you’d like to redeem this offer please click the links below and don’t forget to pop the code: ‘Halloween’ in at the checkout! 🎃🦇👻

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Let me know if you make use of the offer and what your favourite chewellry item is!
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My fidget and stim sensory box!

Hi everyone! I thought I’d upload a video on my fidget and stim sensory box. It’s travel friendly and super useful when on the go! Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel: 21andsensory. All the links are below…

Thanks for watching!

My latest Chewigem purchase…

My latest purchase from the fab Chewigem 😍🙌 this is the berries necklace – it’s very chunky (beads approx 28mm in diameter) and the necklace comes in a whole range of fun vibrant colours, I went for the blues and greens theme.

Other colour combinations are:

  • Black/Grey/White
  • Blues & Greens,
  • Pinks & Purples
  • Rainbow
  • Reds & Blues

Each bead is covered in little nubs for sensory appeal and greater feedback when chewing. The beads have a heavy sort of weighted feel and I just like to hold and fidget with them. It’s hardwearing so would work well for more robust chewers.

I find it’s a much harder chew compared to the Raindrop which I also bought from Chewigem (see my blog post reviewing it here) but I like that it’s a different density as I can choose between which chewellry I think I need / would be best to wear by strength and flexibility. I find if I feel super anxious or agitated a tougher chew works better because then I don’t have to worry about leaving marks or damaging it.

In conclusion: I would definitely recommend! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Sensory Processing Disorder Research Study and Survey

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Hi everyone – this is just a little blog post to let you know about a research study that I’m (and hopeful you will be) involved in.

I’ve been speaking via email to a super lovely student from the University of KOC (Turkey) who is studying Media and Visual Arts and has participated in design research for people with ASD. Now they’ve gone further with research and to specialise in design relating to Sensory Processing Disorder. A survey link was sent through to me this week and I am trying to share it with as many people as possible in order to help with the research!

Below is a link to the survey and it would be fab if you have a spare 5 mins and can fill it  out:

http://koc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_032S5XEHYXqKXad

Thanks! Any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below or @21andsensory on Instagram and Twitter.

Book Review: ‘Odd Girl Out’

 

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‘Odd Girl Out’ is a book by the lovely Laura James. Laura is an author and a journalist (and the owner of a communications agency). She is a mum of four children and lives in North Norfolk, UK. Laura tracks the year of her life in this book after receiving a diagnosis of being autistic from her doctor.

Here is a little synopsis:

What do you do when you wake up in your mid-forties and realise you’ve been living a lie your whole life? Do you tell? Or do you keep it to yourself?

Laura James found out that she was autistic as an adult. Odd Girl Out tracks the year of Laura’s life after she receives a definitive diagnosis from her doctor, as she learns that ‘different’ doesn’t need to mean ‘less’ and how there is a place for all of us, and it’s never too late to find it.

Laura draws on her professional and personal experiences and reflects on her life in the light of her diagnosis, which for her explains some of her differences; why, as a child, she felt happier spinning in circles than standing still and why she has always found it difficult to work in places with a lot of ambient noise.

Although this is a personal story, the book has a wider focus too, exploring reasons for the lower rate of diagnosed autism in women and a wide range of topics including eating disorders and autism, marriage and motherhood.

This memoir gives a timely account from a woman negotiating the autistic spectrum, from a poignant and personal perspective.

Quote from amazon.co.uk

My review:

This book is phenomenal and these are the main reasons why:

  1. Whilst reading it I’ve never felt SO understood.
  2. Laura is very open and forthcoming about her struggles. This is so refreshing.

The book covers Laura’s autism assessment and diagnosis, childhood, teen years and adulthood so far. It’s fascinating to read how Laura was assessed/diagnosed aged 45 and how she has built up so many different coping mechanisms in order to function in a neurotypical world.

Laura’s book also goes into detail about things like relationship struggles and her special interests. This was particularly interesting to read about and it really emphasised how important special interests are to autistic people, and reinforces the point that they should never be denied or taken away from someone.

‘All my life I had tried so hard to be neurotypical, but in that one moment it became utterly clear that I was never going to fit that mould.’ Laura James, The Guardian.

Laura writes about all the daily and mundane things that for some can be such a struggle. Like working in an open plan office. Neurotypical people can deal with this environment okay and sometimes even enjoy being able to talk to people freely around them. For Laura (and me!) it’s nothing short of a bloody nightmare. The sound levels change so frequently that it can be quiet one moment and so loud the next that you can’t think or function properly. Bright strobe office lights can be distracting and too much to bear (and if you haven’t already why not read about my fluorescent jacket troubles in my own office here!). Not to mention the varying smells, people touching you from behind to grab your attention, etc. New experiences really are so overwhelming. This book really will open your eyes to the world around you and make you think twice when you are in these sorts of environments.

The depictions of autism that are mainstream tend to be from things such as: RainmanThe Curious Incident and the Netflix series Atypical. This is all well and good but these films and shows sum up autism to generally be a very male condition when really it’s not at all. Female autism is less documented and understood and I feel that Laura touches on this: a lot of female autistics mimic others around them in things like social situations and are able to get by copying and learning from others behaviours. I think this is why a lot of girls are going undiagnosed for so long. Because we are able to just about manage and put on an act/mimic others to get by okay in life.

A lot of girls are told they ‘don’t seem autistic’. I think this is because we are able to cope on the surface of things and learn behaviours such as keeping good eye contact in order to fit in. It’s all about being able ‘pass’ socially in order to stay under the radar and seem ‘normal’. That’s pretty awful don’t you think? I constantly have to push myself into new situations that I don’t want to do and can’t cope with just to seem like I am normal. Then I can have meltdowns before and after these because it requires so much of my energy and is so hard sensory-wise.

It’s obviously slightly tricky to write a book review as I don’t want to giveaway large sections of what happens because people might want to read it!

I do just want to mention a couple of things. This book was a bit hard to read. I don’t mean this in a bad way at all – it was always going to be difficult to read a book on someone else’s life especially if they struggle with the same things as me (or you). I found that a lot of the autism and sensory parts of the book made me upset / triggered bad thoughts and feelings. This did not put me off and should not put you off either. I think I just resonated with a few of Laura’s struggles so much that I couldn’t help but feel upset but also relieved all at the same time. And yes, I cried through parts of this book. I’ve only admitted that to be honest, because so many things Laura mentioned echoed my own struggles.

The one other thing to mention is that the book can be slightly hard to follow at certain points as Laura jumps back and forth from her childhood memories/life to the present day but this might just be a dyslexic thing I struggle to keep track of!

I’m going to admit to something that you’ve probably already guessed by reading my blog. I have always been the Odd Girl Out. Throughout my life I have constantly struggled with the seemingly normal and mundane things through childhood to my current early adulthood. I hate all the things that neurotypical and young adults seem to love doing like: going to loud places, loud music, meeting up with friends, going to new places, parties in general, restaurants, going on holiday, buying new clothes, drinking alcohol, going to super bright or colourful environments, trying new food, travelling…look the list is actually never-ending. The point I’m getting at is…this book made me feel less alone. I know that sentence is a little bit sad, but it’s true. Because having these struggles all the time is very (very) tiring and nobody else truly seems to understand me (apart from my mum!) or what really goes on in my head. This book gives me just a bit of hope for the future.

I have passed this book onto my mum who is currently reading it. I really think the book gives such an insight into what goes in Laura’s mind and highlights what other autistic people struggle with everyday.

So how would I sum this book up?

Laura learns that ‘different’ doesn’t need to mean ‘less’ and how there is a place for all of us, and it’s never too late to find it.

Conclusion: If you can, you have to read this book (no matter who you are!)

Read an extract of the book here

Read an article Laura wrote for The Guardian (UK) here

Buy the book here: UK / US / Rest of the world