Hi everyone – I thought for the next post in my Sensory Series I’d discuss how difficult it can be as an Autistic person to manage change.
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.
Slide 1: Why it can be very difficult to manage change
Changes can be big or small. Yet they still feel totally overwhelming and life-altering…even if they aren’t really.Something as small as not being able to find your normal shampoo or your favourite brand of cereal at the supermarket can honestly feel like the end of the world in that moment.
So imagine how big things like social occasions let alone life events can be to an Autistic person. They can be utterly huge and hard to process.
It’s very difficult to describe how scary change can be as an Autistic person with sensory issues. I strive for normal, sameness and routine and when this is messed with I can’t cope.
The thing is…I might look like I am coping well with change. But I (and many autistic people) have mastered the art of ‘masking’ where we are very effectively able to keep up an ‘act’ or ‘front’ of managing when inside we are extremely distressed and overwhelmed. It’s so draining.
This is something that can come flooding out once we reach our own safe environment like home. This might look like a shutdown or meltdown which can be worrying for surrounding family, friends, etc.
Sometimes we just need the space and time to decompress and process what has or is going on. And that is okay. It sucks in the moment when you can’t manage what is going on but I’ve learnt…the feelings do pass and life does carry on.
If you like my work and you are able to, please consider supporting me via my Kofi page. Or why not have a listen to my 21andsensory Podcast – there’s a new episode every two weeks
Please do share this post and feel free to comment down below how you cope with change and any tips you have!
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!).
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 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.
HOLY MOLY there’s now 10,000+ (10.2k to be exact) of you lovely people following meeeee on Instagram! It honestly means the world to me that so many awesome people follow little old me and my journey ☺️ Eeeeee! Thank you is all I can say – I’m excited for the future of my Instagram account and there’s lots more doodles to come ✏️
To celebrate reaching this milestone…I’m doing an International Giveaway of the below items over on my Instagram!
Lendoo Magnetic Rings Fidget Toy
Tobar Twist and Lock Blocks Fidget Toy
Flippy Chain Fidget Toy
Toroidz Flow / Kinetic Ring
Pocket Gecko Fidget Toy (Pink) I was gifted 3 of these and want to give one away
AND…I’m going to throw in a small hand drawn doodle from me which I’ll sign!
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!
Hey everyone – hope you are all doing okay. Emily (@autie_eevee) reached out to me during the week to ask if I wanted to collab on a lil’ drawing with her – she designed the circular graphic and we each filled out a half (I filled out the sensory defensive half and she filled out the sensory seeking half) Zoom in to check out all the little details and see her great description below:
Sensory Seeking and Sensory Defensive
For me, this is a topic which I struggle with and causes me anxiety, because I doubt whether I am autistic because my sensory issues aren’t as heightened as others. However, I think that it is often forgotten that sensory issues – just the same as autism – is a spectrum. Everyone has different sensory issues and needs and so I have teamed up with the lovely Emily from @21andsensory to create this infographic about the sensory spectrum.
Sensory sensitivity is a spectrum, on which you can be situated anywhere – and it can actually differ from person to person, with some people having a range of sensitivities for different things. For example, you could be highly sensitive to sound but not sensitive to touch.The terms for ‘being sensory sensitive or not’ is “sensory defensive” or “sensory seeking”.
As the names suggest, sensory seeking people are often HYPOsensitive to sensory input, meaning that they search for it and enjoy the sensory experiences. Sensory defensive people are HYPERsensitive to sensory input, meaning they actively avoid it, due to it being uncomfortable and causing physical pain or discomfort for them.
I am still learning about where I am on the sensory spectrum, although I know I am a mix of the two and it very much depends on the situation I’m in as well. However, I hope this post has been helpful and informative in a little talked about topic! 💖
Hello everyone, I’m back again, this time with an illustration of some self isolation achievements. I know that all the news on TV and online seems to be constantly swirling around and being updated continually (which is fine) but it can be really difficult not to get anxious, stressed, upset and triggered by it all. I’m trying to hold on to the small positives each day and the little autistic and sensory achievements I have been making along the way.
Why not comment down below any wins or things you’ve done with your time (they can be big or small – everything counts).
I hope you are all doing okay and staying safe (as much as you can be with all this going on).