My Autieversary…🧠

2 years ago on 8th November 2019 I was diagnosed as Autistic aged 25 (I posted this illustration I did above on Instagram on the day…but forgot to post it on my blog!). I can’t believe its been two entire years since then but everyday I am SO grateful to know that little bit more about myself. 

Did I walk out of the assessment thinking that the whole world was going to look, feel and just BE different now that I knew this about myself? Yes. 

Did it? No…but that’s okay. It’s such a life-altering thing to know about yourself that it’s natural to think like this. But what did happen was a hell of a lot of things slid into place in my mind about all the struggles I’ve gone through and how they are all pretty much down to the fact I had no idea I was Autistic. 

You can read a full post on my diagnosis journey here (I recommend grabbing a snack and a hot drink before reading as it’s a long one! ☕️)

Also episode 16 of my 21andsensory Podcast is an entire episode dedicated to just me discussing my entire diagnosis journey if you prefer to listen rather than read. Just search 21andsensory wherever you usually listen to your podcasts!

The struggles of using make-up and beauty products💄

I thought for the next post in my Sensory Series I’d discuss why I struggle to use make-up & beauty products (and don’t anymore!).

In my 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, feel free to scroll back over other posts in this series too! Please do share this post and feel free to comment down below how you cope with change and any tips you have…

World Mental Health Day 🌎 🧠 

Today is World Mental Health Day 🌎 🧠 

I’ve been seeing lots of Instagram posts today that are so genuine and honest, people explaining the struggles of living with mental health issues. l did this drawing to explain how mental health affects sensory people (and how the two can become quite intertwined to the extent that it’s hard to tell what’s responsible for what feeling, thought, etc).

I’ve explained before that my mental health is confusing to me because my issues can randomly intensify and l also struggle with episodes of depression which can be really debilitating. Obviously everyone’s mental health is very different but I do think it’s important to be supportive to each other both online and in the real world.

I do think it’s great that self care is becoming more a ‘thing’ now and it really is important in order to keep functioning in life. I find that my mental health mixed with my sensory issues (and now knowing I’m autistic) is always tough to deal with but having a community of neurodiverse and like minded people here on Instagram has really helped me to understand not only myself but to understand how others cope in the big wide world.

(Doodle is my own view of mental health and sensory issues and I totally understand that not everyone may agree / relate to what I’ve said and drawn as we all experience things very differently.)

My latest podcast episode and I was a guest on another podcast! 🎙

On my latest episode I have special guest Ella Willis! Ella is a 21 year old Newcastle-based Autism advocate who creates amazing and really informative educational videos on her TikTok (@ellaellaw) where they have almost 120,000 followers!!

Ella is also a fab illustrator and shares work via Instagram @_ellawillis and via an Illustration IG @illustratetothepoint. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you usually get your podcasts.

I was also a guest on the A Drop in the Bucket podcast which is a podcast about life’s stresses and how we handle them…

If you have a listen to either I’d love to know what you think!

I have never been to the hairdressers before…💇‍♀️

Hi everyone – I thought for the next post in my Sensory Series I’d discuss why I have never been to the hairdressers before…

In my 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, feel free to scroll back over other posts in this series too! Please do share this post and feel free to comment down below how you cope with change and any tips you have!

Descriptions of each slide:

Slide 1:

Black and white icon of a woman with long hair and a cross in front of her with text underneath:

I have never been to the hairdressers before…The a pastel green line with ‘@21andsensory‘ underneath and in the top right hand corner of the post there is a pastel green box that says ‘ SENSORY SERIES’ in to show what series the post is part of.


Slide 2:

Pastel green vertical line on left hand side of the image with text next to it:I have never been able to go to a hairdressers. My mum (very kindly) cuts my hair for me at home…in a straight line across my back. Here are the many reasons why…I cannot deal with the idea of someone I don’t know touching my head. I think it doesn’t help that I don’t even like touching my own head or the feel of washing my own hair and it took me years to desensitise and be able to brush my hair myself!


Slide 3:

Pastel green vertical line on left hand side of the image with text next to it:I am only able to use a specific brand of shampoo and conditioner as I cannot deal sensory-wise with any other scents or products in my hair. I am very sensitive to any scents especially to do with my clothes, hair and environment.

The potential of small talk whilst someone is cutting my hair is a huge fear (it would be a nightmare) and also having to explain why the idea of a head massage makes me feel physically ill would be awkward.

Slide 4:

Pastel green vertical line on left hand side of the image with text next to it: I also have never been able to handle people going near my neck…even I struggle to wash near it or wear certain clothes because of it!

I’m not I could deal with a salon environment or even someone coming into my own home to cut my hair it would be too overwhelming. I am truly awful with change. I cry most times after my mum cuts my hair, even if it’s only after a little bit has come off, it always feels so different.


Slide 5:

Pastel green vertical line on left hand side of the image with text next to it:

I’d love to know if anybody else is part of the ‘Never had a proper haircut’ club…(I‘m sensing a pin badge design coming on haha) If so comment down below! I’d also love to hear from those who are able to go to the hairdressers as any tips and tricks are always great.

I’m off to ask my mum to cut my hair again as it’s become to long to manage…*prays I don’t cry*


Slide 6:

21andsensory logo (person holding up a white board with ’21andsensory’ on it. Underneath it says:If you like my work and you are able to, please consider supporting me via my Kofi page (link in bio). Or why not have a listen to my 21andsensory Podcast! With social media icons underneath.

Why offices can be a sensory nightmare…🖥

I thought I do a drawing on an issue thats always been close to my heart: the nightmare that is open plan offices. Here is some of the reasons why I struggle…

People bringing in their own smells constantly: ARGH. So many smelly lunches! Strong coffees. Overwhelming perfumes, aftershaves, deodorants. 

Everyone chatting: I cannot filter a conversation happening in front of me if there are also many going on around me. I find it super hard to tune into the closest person to me because i hear everything all at once.

Desks are too close: I need my own personal space (who doesn’t?) and I find open plan offices can sometimes be set-up like call centres where they squish as many people as physically possible into the space. I know this can’t always be avoided but by being so close to other people it can affect how well i work (they might wear strong perfume or aftershave, chat too loudly, have hot smelly lunches at their desk, etc) and this grates on me.

Strong lighting: Strip lighting can be super harsh but also really distracting.

Random desk visitors: FILL ME WITH UTTER FEAR. Please email me! I am super responsive via email I promise. Don’t ring me or visit me at my desk….I know this is easier said than done but I work a million times better if I someone emails me in detail about the work they’d like me to do or schedules in a meeting I can prepare for. I hate it when people just ‘pop’ by my desk even if it’s for a chat…I’m at work and I really (really) don’t want to chat. I just want to do my work and do it well. I know that sounds very anti-social but I am quite anti-social and need structure to my work and day in order to thrive.

Bright clothing: I’ve said it before (in previous posts and in my podcasts!) PLEASE DON’T HANG UP YOUR FLOUROSCENT JACKETS in the office. Cloakroom / changing room = fine but in and open plan environment it is honestly sensory hell. They are beyond distracting and physically upset me (which sounds ridiculous but they take my my entire head).

Also I saw @innocent did a post recently about Disability Pride in July and they mentioned that they don’t employ many people with disclosed disabilities at the moment and they’d like to change that.

They were encouraging people to chat and feedback with input in the comments and I think this drawing is my little contribution as to how companies (especially larger ones) need to be aware of how overwhelming open plan offices can be. It’s great to hear so many companies are moving in the right direction and encouraging the conversation around how to be more accommodating for neurodiverse employees.

Follow me below for more illustrations and content:

Instagram | Twitter | TikTok | YouTube | Podcast

Stim Box: Huge Fidget Unboxing!

The lovely people @stimbox kindly gifted me this box* 😍😍😍 I am honestly so impressed with the contents of it and I think my enthusiasm comes across in the video (and the fact I keep comparing it to Christmas haha!).

Included in this 21 piece fidget toy set are:

  • Rainbow Pop It
  • Infinity Cube
  • 2x Snap Its
  • Snap and Click Toy
  • Pop It Keychain
  • 4x Stretchy Strings
  • Marble in Mesh
  • Twist and Turn Toy
  • 4x Squishy Mochi
  • A Pea Pod Keychain
  • 2x Acupressure Rings
  • 2x Flippy Bike Chains

They can also be bought individually.

Have a look at the StimBox website here: https://stimbox.co | https://linktr.ee/

Stimbox Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stimbox/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@stimbox

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stimboxllc

(*I was under no obligation to post about the box but really wanted to give an honest review and share it with you all!).

Pop-it Fidget Toys from Fidgipops! 😍

The lovely people @fidgipops kindly gifted me these awesome pop-it’s! 😍😍😍 I LOVE THEM! They are super satisfying to play with and really do keep your hands and mind occupied and distracted so I’d definitely recommend them.

I have one on my desk while I work!

Cactus: https://fidgipops.com/collections/fidgipops/products/fidgipops-cactus-pop-it-fidget-toy

Pineapple: https://fidgipops.com/collections/fidgipops/products/pineapple

Dimplepop: https://fidgipops.com/collections/fidgibox/products/dimplepop

I was a guest on the ‘Psychology in the Classroom’ Podcast…🎙

I was a guest on the ‘Psychology in the Classroom’ podcast!

The podcast takes psychological research and translates it for classroom teachers so they can effectively apply it to their teaching practice to help improve outcomes for their students. Interviews with leading psychologists and other experts in the field of education, as well as deep dives into educational theory and a little bit of neuromyth busting. 

Lucinda is the host and has a BSc in Philosophy and Psychology, an MA in Special and Inclusive education, is a qualified teacher and taught psychology from 2002-2017.  Her passions lie in psychology and education and luckily the two are inextricably linked. She now produces a podcast ‘Psychology in the classroom’ and writes a weekly blog summarising psychological research on learning and education.

Here is the episode description:

Interview with Dr Cathy Manning from Oxford University and Emily from @21andsensory.

This week’s podcast covers Sensory Processing Disorder.  This is a very varied disorder which affects how people process sensory information and as a consequence how they respond to the environment.  Though often linked with Autism SPD doesn’t always go hand in hand with ASD. SPD can be triggered via all senses such as vision, noise, touch and smell and considering your classroom environment can really help to support young people who struggle with SPD.

You can find out about Dr Cathy Manning’s research here.

You can find out more about Emily and her work here or follow her on social media @21andsensory or listen to her podcast here.

The link to Mary Hanley’s research on displays is here.

You can also listen on iTunesSpotify & Amazon Podcasts