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.

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!