An Instagram Q&A…

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Every so often I like to do a Q&A session on my Instagram Story. If you’d like to get involved do follow me @21andsensory. Here’s some questions from this week that I was asked:

Do you ever feel weird / different / insecure because of your Sensory Processing Disorder?

Great question. If I’m honest I do 100% feel weird because it’s like my senses are always on high alert and everything is too loud, bright, colourful, strong smelling, scratchy, etc! I do feel very different especially because of my age I think people expect me to be out 24/7, socialising, drinking, partying, that sort of thing. But…that’s why I made my blog and my Instagram / Twitter / Podcast! I really wanted to find others out there struggling with the same things daily and just talk all things sensory related and share tips and tricks. I’ve chatted to so many amazing people it makes me feel part of a community of other lovely people who understand exactly what it’s like.

What’s the first signs you notice when you’re beginning to be sensory overloaded?

Hmm. For me it tends to be my mood plummets and I have a ‘fight or flight’ response which means I’ll start to cry and escape the environment quickly. I’m quite good at removing myself (for example) from a loud situation if I’m starting to feel super overwhelmed or on the verge of a meltdown. Also I can get super hot or super cold and feel totally zoned out which is never very nice!

What happens to you when you’re in sensory overload?

Equally a good question but always a weird / hard thing to explain. It’s almost like I’m shutting down like  I’m shutting down like a computer I think. I feel totally overwhelmed , incredibly emotional, tearful, zoned out and generally odd. I bite my nails really badly and this ramps up even more during times like this. I can go quite non-verbal and not explain to anyone what’s really happening . I tend to find the nearest toilet that I can lock myself in and escape the environment or situation that started the overload. I retreat to my room and lie under my weighted blanket / duvet. I did then experience a sort of  ‘sensory hangover’ where I just need to be in a quiet place on my own for a bit to recuperate and feel better.

How does stress affect your ability to handle different sensory stimuli?

Stress makes everything sensory-wise like 100% worse. I find I can tip into sensory overload / meltdown much quicker when I am stressed and even a sudden noise or annoying smell can really grate on my nerves 😱 so I try and stick to routine and work the same hours each day and take regular breaks, etc. I also have a to-do list that keeps me on track daily in my life and work! I always try and avoid stressful situations where possible and say no to things like events I don’t feel I can handle.

How do you handle the overwhelm when you feel like you have made someone uncomfortable?

I try not to overthink things. The worst thing you can do is re-run over what you’ve said and over analyse things and it can lead to so much stress and unnecessary angst. I struggle with this as it’s so easy to lay awake at night and overthink things but just remember: the other person isn’t thinking about the conversation you had with them hours ago, they’ve moved on with their day and lives and I think it’s important to remember that a bit.

Not understanding typical boundaries in social or work context ie: talking religion at work?

This can be difficult because the boundaries are never very clear and I understand that. Try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes and think ‘could this spark a debate or upset somebody?’ before you go ahead and talk about it? For example I don’t talk about politics with anyone because I don’t understand it all! 😂 and I know people can be quite sensitive to that topic.

Do you ever punish yourself by not allowing yourself to stim?

No I don’t think so. If anything I’m the opposite and forget that swimming can help me which is why I have a post-it-note on my sensory / fidget  box that says *HELPFUL CRAP USE ME* 😂 😂 😂 I forget in times of overwhelm what helps me! Also just to add: you should never punish yourself for anything. Whether it’s stimming

I hope this was an interesting / helpful Q&A ☺️

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Sensory Supermarket Trip 🛒

Hi everyone! This video documents my visit to a supermarket (in the UK) as a sensory-person! I explain throughout the video via captions how I am feeling and what is affecting me. Do you also struggle in supermarkets or shopping situations? If you have any good coping mechanisms feel free to share them in the comments below!

Sensory Festive Season 🎄

Ah yes the festive season is well and truly upon us. Welcome to the ‘random questions Emily gets asked at this time of year’.

Yes I went to my team dinner at work. Yes it was painful. Yes I went to our company Christmas party. Yes it was painful and LOUD. Yes I got dragged onto a dance floor against my own wishes. But I survived the environment. Yet I miss ONE cocktail night out and a co-worker comes up to me the next day and says ‘didn’t see you at the pub last night’ and catches me off guard. UGH.

I’m trying to navigate this sensory world and my limit is usually one social / festive gathering and I managed two out of three! So what would make my festive season that little bit better? Less questions.

1. I don’t drink alcohol. For some reason this throws everybody and I am questioned beyond belief. I don’t like the taste. That’s all there is to it! And yes, I’ll have a lemonade instead please.

2. I don’t eat much meat. This throws everybody. Again: I don’t like the taste (although chicken is okay sometimes). It’s easier to say I’m a vegetarian 🌱

3. I do find it difficult to dress up. I can wear a dress but I don’t like anything ridiculously tight or short. And high heels are a bit of a no-go due to tripping over my own feet normally in trainers everyday!

4. I’m dealing with sensory stuff in a new environment and holy moly all these questions do not help!

I can have fun without drinking, eating and dressing up. (Aka: cosy nights in watching Bake Off, Top Gear, Brooklyn 99 or a Louis Theroux documentary. Equally tucked up in bed with a book is just great too!)

Drawing by me. This post featured on my 21andsensory Instagram

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…

I am a Chewigem Affiliate! They are company who have years of experience, designing, adapting and creating a range of chewing, fidget and sensory aids for children and adults. Check out their website.

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! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I am a Chewigem Affiliate! They are company who have years of experience, designing, adapting and creating a range of chewing, fidget and sensory aids for children and adults. Check out their website.