What is stimming? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Hi everyone 👋 this is a post in collaboration with the wonderful @agonyautie. Sara suggested working together on a post together all about stimming and what it looks like visually. Here are some wise words from @agonyautie:

‘Stop shaming stimming. Stimulate yourself through your senses. Have fun, Stim freely, be respectful of others and Stim Shame Free. Make sure to stim safely and stim boldly!’

I’ve tried to visually represent in my two illustrations ✏️ the wide variety of things that can be referred to as stims (which is short for self-regulatory behaviour). Stimming helps a person to self calm and process overwhelming environments. Some stims can be quite subtle such as hair twirling or chewing whereas others are more noticeable and can be destructive such as skin picking (dermatillomania) or hair pulling (Trichotillomania) which can cause damage.

It’s important to recognise that stimming safely (whether you are a child or adult) is okay and not something to ever be ashamed of. It should not be looked down on or discouraged. Go forth and stim freely! 🙌

Link to my original Instagram post here

An important pie chart 🥧

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Hi everyone! Hope you like my important pie chart drawing ✏️ does anyone else have a range of clothes but also just stick to your favourite, old, most worn and comfy clothes? I find it SO hard to wear new clothes and new shoes 👟 (it has taken me actual years to get into new shoes!). It’s so difficult sensory-wise to get used to new clothing 👕 and it always ends up that my clothes have to be washed multiple times before I feel comfortable wearing them…

Do not get me started on itchy / scratchy tags and labels, ugh! They are the worst 😭 how do you cope with clothing and footwear? Any top tips? Feel free to share them in the comments below. Please feel free to share my post on social media platforms but do please credit me @21andsensory thanks!

Can you turn the sound down please? 🔇

Hello everyone – hope you are all having a good day. I’ve done another little drawing which I thought I would share with you all. I am very sensory defensive when it comes to sound. I am constantly asking my parents to turn the sound/volume down on the TV 😂 It’s always too loud for me 🔈

I’ve also been struggling this week with a busy open plan office at work which is noisy and bustling and generally wears me out! 😱 I also jump at anything even slightly loud (even people sneezing 🤧) I’ve been using my noise cancelling headphones but does anyone else have any other good tips for dealing with loud noises?

Also: I’ve reached 1,000 followers on Instagram! Thanks so much to everyone out there who follows along – my main aim when setting up my blog and Instagram was that if I could help out one person out there by providing sensory advice / tips / support / etc to them then I would be happy!

Sensory Hangover

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This post explains what an earth a sensory hangover is. Before you read this: it has nothing to do with drinking / alcohol consumption! 🚫

A sensory hangover is a term I’ve started to use (in my head!) to describe the state in which I am left in after being in an overwhelming place, environment, scenario, etc. The sensory hangover begins on instant return to my house – I can get emotional and feel totally overwhelmed and stressed out.

An example: I was invited to my friends 21st birthday party. It was at her house and it was a surprise birthday party. I hate surprises. I felt awful and sick and spaced out for the first part of the evening while my friend wasn’t even at the party but I managed to hang out with two other girls I knew. Then when my friend came in the room I had to ready myself for everyone shouting ‘SURPRISE!’ super loud, with much clapping, hugging, kissing and music accompanying it all. It was all too much and I made my excuses and left relatively early in the evening. I then got home and cried. A lot. My parents were understanding but I just couldn’t hold my emotions in and I felt completely weird for the rest of the evening and most of the next day. It took a real chunk of my energy out of me and I was left unable to process everything and all messy inside my head.

Now I try to be way more conscious of where I go, for how long, and what will be there that could affect me. I say no more often now (although I have the FOMO: fear of missing out) I know it’s for the better and I am way way happier not going and having a chilled night in. Sound is a huge issue for me and can really quickly bring on a sensory hangover – I feel physically drained and unable to process or compute what people are saying in noisy situations that I just prefer to remove myself from them entirely. 🏃

The sensory hangover can then move on a bit and I have episodes of intense OCD where I will feel the urge to clean obsessively (whether it’s myself or my bedroom or another room in the house). This keeps me busy/distracted/occupied which I find helpful – I really enjoy tidying my room and putting things away every few days.

So…to put it simply: a sensory hangover describes the physically tired, mentally drained and totally spaced out feeling I have after an overwhelming social interaction. 💥(The feeling of a sensory hangover will come over me immediately after an overwhelming thing and can last from a few minutes to even a day in length which = not cool)

Have you ever experienced a sensory ( / autistic-type / call it whatever suits you!) hangover?

Things that spark joy

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Hello everyone 👋🏻 I made a new year’s resolution to draw more for my 21andsensory blog/social media. And here I am attempting to get into it more. I realise this drawing is 100% making use of @mariekondo tidying method of ‘does it spark joy?’ but I think this can phrase can apply to life and not just tidying our living spaces. So I’ve drawn some of my favourite things (and things I think most people enjoy!). It’s important to hold onto the little things that make you happy, even if it’s a nice hot drink or settling down to read a book. What sparks joy in your life?

Featured items:

  • Pantone 7461 mug – would recommend as it’s a lovely shade ☕️
  • Tangle it’s blue and glittery and is just the most amazing fidget, it’s relatively quiet to play with and works well in coat / hoodie pockets! 😍
  • Antsy Labs the original makers of the fidget cube – it’s a nice grey and black version that I have but they do some super funky colours too 👏🏻
  • Chewigem raindrop – such an amazing colour – looks like petrol as it’s all rainbowy. Also very glittery. It’s my go-to chew! ✨
  • Radox bath salts – these are my favourite! 🛀 they aren’t too strong smelling and are ideal if you have achey muscles too 😊
  • The Body Shop satsuma bath/shower gel is incredible – it’s such a nice clean smell that’s not too overpowering/overwhelming 🚿🍊
  • Sensory Direct weighted blanket ❤️ 100% recommend any products from here especially their weighted blankets! See my full review here

Side note: I’m more than happy for you lovely people out there to share my drawings to your own social media, etc but pretty please credit me! @21andsensory

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