Interoception (inner sense) drawing…🧠

Hello! Here is drawing number six (part of a series on our 8 senses, scroll back in my feed to see my previous drawings!) ✏️ which is all about Interoception which is a lesser known sense that actually helps you understand and fell what’s going on inside your body (think of it as an inner sense)…

  • A sensory diet is important! It’s a way of self regulating (like using fidget and stim toys) and usually involves physical activities like rolling on a yoga ball, having time on a swing or trampoline, heavy work activities like using weights or lifting and carrying things. The idea is a sensory diet helps you to become more grounded as you are getting the regular input that your body needs. As a result you may feel calmer and more in control of your behaviour and mood. I’ve definitely seen the benefits of having a sensory diet (for example I use a therapressure brush to do body brushing which has helped me to desensitise my limbs to touch).
  • I never feel full…like my stomach and brain just doesn’t have that sense wired in..it’s really odd and can be annoying (comment down below with a hands-up emoji to join the club) I experience this even more in restaurants, due to the busy, noisy environment I literally cannot connect to what my stomach is feeling because I am filtering so much other information.
  • Visual cues – these can be super helpful, especially to remind ourselves to do daily tasks like personal hygiene, to drink and eat enough and what to expect during the day. I know a lot of people use social stories (google the term for more info, they were developed by Carol Gray in 1991) as a tool to help with self care skills, social skills, changes in routine, etc. You can make Velcro versions so you can easily change out what your day looks like.
  • Hypersensitivity to pain…if you’re a sensory being you may well be hypersensitive (over-sensitive) to pain…I know I am!! I am very tuned in to pain and when something hurts it REALLY HURTS even if it’s something small like a cut it’ll be super distracting to me. Equally you may be hyposensitive to pain (under-sensitive) and not realise if you are hurt/injured.
  • Grounding exercises – these are super useful when your mind is whirring, thoughts swirling and your heartbeat feels a bit rapid and all over the place. Most smart watches have in-built breathing exercises / apps built into them (e.g Apple Watch does, my Fitbit does too!) and these can be helpful in terms of distraction by looking at something visual and timing your breath along with an animation. Of course there are lots of different grounding exercises, another good one to use when you are overwhelmed is to sit and use your senses to ground you, name a few things you can hear, smell, touch, see, etc. This can diverts your brain and distract you.
  • Alexithymia is a difficulty in recognising emotions and identifying feelings. This is something my autism assessor said she think I might struggle with. I definitely find it super difficult to explain my feelings to others because I genuinely cannot recognise or process my own emotions.

    Do comment down below if you can relate to anything in my drawing or anything I’ve said, I’m always keen to hear how everyone copes with these things. Two more drawings to go in this little series!

Touch and Tactile Processing…🚷

Hello! Here is drawing number five (part of a series on our 8 senses, scroll back on my blog to see my previous drawings!) ✏️ which is all about touch and tactile processing….

  • Weighted blankets are THE BEST. I got mine from @sensorydirect (they do a great scheme where you can borrow a blanket on a trial period to see if it’s right for you before purchasing it) I’ve had mine for a few years now and I bought a lovely pale green cover for it which looks fab on my bed!
  • Unexpected touch is hugely overwhelming and can be quite frightening to me. For example – anybody coming up to me and tapping me on the shoulder from behind or just touching me when in conversation with me is too much to handle.
  • Fidgets, you know the score, they are pretty great. They work as good stim toys and distractions when in different environments. 
  • Cooking and baking…I hate the texture of ingredients on my hands! I have to wash my hands a lot when baking things because it affects my mood when I have distracting weird textures on me. Things like egg, flour, kneading dough are too overwhelming. Fun fact: When I was at secondary school we had to make a dish in food technology class involving handling mince meat…I hated this idea so I took like medical gloves in to avoid the direct texture (I got some very funny looks from the rest of my class) yet when we started cooking everyone seemed to want gloves and nobody wanted to touch the meat!
  • Oversized clothing = comfy! I like huge baggy t-shirts and jumpers with skinny jeans / jeggings. I prefer tighter things on my bottom half and much looser clothing on my top half.
  • Labels and tags inside clothing are THE WORST. I don’t understand why there can be small books worth of labels inside some clothing items and they seem to be a nightmare to detached without leaving jagged annoying edges or leaving a hole in the actual clothing. I love @uniqlo clothing as their t-shirts don’t come with any tags (just information printed inside!).

What do you struggle with it term of touch and tactile processing? Comment down below!

DIY Sensory Zen Garden 🌱

My mum is super creative and a while back she created a small zen garden inside a wooden box, complete with miniature rakes and pebble! It’s super easy to do (she used sand from a beach!).

It’s a very calming therapeutic activity to do. It’s just satisfying to shape the sand and rake it back and forth, you get a range of sensory feedback. Definitely recommend trying this out for yourself as an inexpensive sensory activity.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit an actual Japanese zen garden in Cornwall a few years ago and it was such a calm and relaxing experience. Being able to walk around and immerse myself in the surrounding nature and experience the quiet and subtle sounds of wind chimes and running streams was so grounding and calm, I’d love to have access to a local garden like this!

Have you ever been to a zen or sensory garden before? If so how was your experience? Comment down below.

Fidget and Stim Toys ✨

I did a little photoshoot with my small box of fidget and stim toys (because why the hell not?). I think I underestimate how helpful these can really be and I forget to use them if they aren’t in my line of sight, which is when I end up biting my nails, bouncing my legs or flicking / fidgeting using my eyelashes and eyebrows.

I appreciate those might sound weird but literally if I have nothing in front of me I somehow unconsciously resort to doing these things which can end up being a little bit destructive. I’ll list the links to the fidgets below (or head over to my YouTube channel and they are linked in an older sensory box video I did)

Most of the fidgets are from Amazon, The Works, Flying Tiger, The Entertainer or direct online stores:

Smells, Scents and Odours…👃

Smells, scents and odours 👃 this is the next drawing in my little series of the ‘8 senses’ (see my first one on food and drink struggles by scrolling back on my blog posts or Instagram feed!) 

  • I ❤️ the smell of fruit 🍋 just a natural and refreshing smell that I enjoy and I’m really familiar with and fruit is comforting to me 🍏🍓🍉🍊
  • I find cleaning sprays, fancy perfumes, aftershaves and paint too strong and really overwhelming. They are almost like painful to smell? Don’t know if anybody else struggles with that…❌🧴🚿🧹 
  • Ah the familiar smell of pens and markers 😍 🖊 they sort of act as a ‘grounding’ thing for me they keep me present and remind me that I’m doing something arty! 🎨 
  • Cooking smells and the way things smell when they sizzle is tooooo much for me! Especially fried things…🚫🍳🥓🥩
  • I find crackling fires, camp fires, heavily scented candles and any form of smoke really difficult to deal with because of the way it’s sticks/clings to my hair and clothes 🔥🌋 🚬 🚭
  • The sea is the bestttt smell! (And the best sound to be honest too!) 🌊🏖 again it’s quite refreshing and keeps me in the present moment 😎

What smells do you love or hate? Are there particular smells you struggle with? Let me know in the comments below! ⬇️

Food and Drink Struggles…

Hi everyone! Coming back at you with another drawing – this time on the struggles of food and drink as a sensory / autistic person. The struggle is REAL. I am a slight nightmare when it comes to food – I am a picky eater (even now at the age of 26!). I like to stick to food I know and especially bland food – I hate anything even slightly spicy, hot or flavoured. So let me explain my drawing above….

  • I tried peanut butter for the first time the other day (I couldn’t stand the texture it was WAY too sticky but I like the smell of it!)
  • Meat is pretty much a no-go food group for me. I HATE the texture, it’s chewiness is way too much for me to handle
  • As I mentioned about spicy food  before it usually = Emily running away
  • Cereal is my FAV. The crunchier the better! The same with fruit and veg which I also love White chocolate is great especially when it’s left in the fridge before eating! I love the way it snaps
  • Jelly and other ‘set’ desserts are a NOPE from me. The texture and sound sends me running!
  • I really love fruit and veg – avocados (which I’ve got more into recently), apples and blueberries are my favourite.
  • I ❤️ TEA! Just bog standard english breakfast tea is my favourite with a bit of milk. It’s a go-to drink for me and I enjoy just drinking water too (I don’t like alcohol at all smell/taste is too much)

..And there you have it! I am particular about what I like food-wise and obviously this is only a small list I could go into way more detail about food and drink!

Let me know what you love and hate ( or can/can’t tolerate) food and drink-wise down below in the comments. I’m thinking I might do a drawing on each of the senses after doing this one…let me know what you think.

A new 21andsensory podcast episode!

In this month’s episode I had a chance to speak to the very lovely Emily (find her @autie__eevee on Instagram). We spoke about a whole range of things such as her self diagnosis of Autism and her journey to be formally assessed, her first year studying Fine Art at university, her special interests and hobbies and about her amazing Instagram account!

Search for the 21andsensory podcast wherever you get your podcasts from!

Apple Podcasts   Google Play Music  Overcast   Pocket Casts  Spotify

A Self Isolation Doodle 💛

Hi everyone – back again with a doodle. I started this drawing a little while back and I kept coming back to it and adding stuff before I felt happy with it. I think this relates to being in self isolation / lockdown / quarantine / whatever you want to call it.

Some days can be mega productive whereas other just…aren’t. And that’s okay. It’s important to have downtime and to step back from things in order to come back refreshed and to return with a new outlook, whether its work, studying or a special interest.

And…just existing takes alot of time, effort and patience. Be proud of yourself for hanging on in there..

Also if you have a pet go pat it. Right now. Say it’s a pat from Emily 😉

A new doodle and a new podcast episode! 🎙

Working from home by 21andsensory

Here’s my latest doodle…Working from Home (Autistic / Sensory Edition) My latest podcast episode on this topic has just gone live so if you would like to hear me talk about the pros and cons of working at home in more detail (and just generally rambling on like I usually do) search for 21andsensory wherever you usually get your podcasts! Here’s some more info on the episode:

In ‘Episode 19: Working from home and managing life in lockdown’ I chat about:

  • How I have found working from home and the process from the very beginning 👀
  • Struggling with meltdowns, overwhelm, change and routines 🧠
  • My current work set-up and how I’m coping ✏️
  • The pros and cons of working remotely 👩🏻‍💻
  • And finally an advice section for those working / studying / revising / teaching / generally trying to live and survive at home during lockdown 🏠

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