21andsensory Christmas Gift Guide!🎄

A 3-part Christmas Gift Guide courtesy of me @21andsensory!

  • Memory / Photobook: Try websites such as Vista Print, Cheerz, Free Prints, SnapFish, Photobox, Papier,
  • Tangle: Just such a great fidget, it’s so easy and simple!
  • Chewigem Hexichew: Great idea for more moderate-heavier chewers
  • Fluffy Socks: Who doesn’t love a pair of super cosy socks?!
  • Ear Defenders: Worth looking at the Kidz online store and their store on Amazon (they do adult ear defenders too – don’t let the name put you off!)
  • Stationary: Try pound/dollar stores, WHSmith, Target, Kikki K, Ryman, PaperChase, The Works, Flying Tiger, etc
  • Fidget cube: This is the official fidget cube from Antsy labs but there’s lots of versions all over Amazon and in toy stores
  • Plushies: Worth shopping around on Amazon or looking in toy stores like The Entertainer
  • Bubble pop keyring: Again available in toy stores too
  • Activity books: HobbyCraft and The Works are great for activity books in the UK. Also again worth shopping around online and looking on Amazon

  • Scented candles: Yankee Candles can be quite overpowering sometimes so I recommend trying out candles before buying them or gifting a voucher for a candle store! Also supermarkets and places like TK/TJ Maxx do great more affordable scented candles that usually aren’t as strong.
  • Reuseable ear plugs: Worth shopping around for online or even getting fitted for you own pair
  • Marble Fidget: Can also be found in pound/dollar stores too
  • Weighted jacket: Honestly cannot recommend the Sensory Direct weighted jacket highly enough – I bought my own (not sponsored) and honestly love it. Even the hood is weighted!
  • Weighted lap pad: Also worth looking at all the weighted products on the Sensory Direct store.
  • Books on Autism: so SO many great books available online on Amazon and in book stores such as Waterstones.
  • Books by Autistic people: I only had room to mention 3 above but please Google books by Autistic people further – there are such a wide range of fab books out there to read I couldn’t possibly name them all. Also look back through my blog posts to see which books I’ve read and my reviews on them!
  • Retro games / game consoles: Have a look online at CEX, Amazon, Game, HMV, etc
  • Music subscription: Worth looking into a Spotify or Apple Music subscription as a gift/voucher
  • Vinyl / CD’s: Your best bet is to look online, in local vintage vinyl stores or on sites like Ebay for some good finds
  • Lava lamp: Double check you buy one that comes with the bulb as they can be quite specific and hard to find!
  • Liquid timer: Also available online in sensory stores!
  • Chewigem Eternity necklace: A stylish yet chewable necklace
  • Soft toys: again worth looking on Amazon and shopping around different toy stores
  • Happiness book and so many happiness journal books are available these days. I would recommend looking online at Amazon reviews and in larger book stores too
  • Mindfulness book and again mindfulness journals can be found everywhere these days. I’ve found lots of stationary stores have ranges of them too
  • Sunglasses: Vouchers for/towards sunglasses or tinted glasses can be super helpful!
  • Sweets / Candy: There are cute subscription boxes that will deliver sweets/candy to your door monthly, or just buy some old fashioned sweets from a local store or pick ‘n’ mix!
  • Noise Cancelling headphones: Worth researching into both Sony and Bose noise cancelling headphones. They both seem to be leading the way in terms of NC / ambient sound reduction. Also some great (much more affordable) NC headphones are available on Amazon at different price points – great whatever your budget! Might be worth getting a voucher towards headphones as that allows the person to go into a store and try before they buy.
  • Chewigem Chubes: Great for tying to the ends of hoodie drawstrings if you are a nervous biter like I am and end up ruining the strings on all your jumpers
  • Peapod keyring: The cutest and most satisfying fidget!
  • Chewigem Twister Bangles: So funky and subtle at the same time.
  • Arts and Crafts supplies: Again pound/dollar stores are great for Arts and Crafts bits and pieces. Also have a look at stores such as HobbyCraft,
  • Puzzles: SO many great puzzles online at Amazon, The Works, Argos, The Entertainer, the list goes on…
  • Fairy lights: Battery and mains fairy lights can be bought cheaply from pound/dollar stores, Primark, larger chain supermarkets, etc

PHEW. Hope you found this gift guide helpful, I tried to link as many gifts as physically possible!

21andsensory Podcasts!

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So I went and bit the bullet as you can probably tell by the title…and my brand new podcast is live! My podcasts are on a site/app called Anchor – it’s a free podcast and audio platform. Feel free to sign up and create an account and you can download the mobile app and listen on the go (you can also listen without signing up!).

The Anchor app will allow me to record on the go (without a computer) so I can create podcasts anytime anywhere and add new content regularly! I’m hoping to use it as almost a form of an audio diary and share my sensory experiences as and when they happen! Tips and advice will definitely feature so watch this space…

You can search for my username on Anchor which is simply: 21andsensory.

Or listen here: Anchor FM: 21andsensory

Update: You can now also listen and subscribe to my podcasts on the Apple Podcast app here and on the Google Play store, just search for 21andsensory.

A Sensory Book Review: ‘Baking for Dave’

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I have managed to finish the book ‘Baking for Dave’ (see my previous blog post – I’m known for my slow reading and slow processing speed so apologises for the wait!) so here is my book review…

Okay so firstly let me give you a little background in terms of the characters and storyline. The book is centred around a young girl called Iris Heller. Iris is 15 years old and has Sensory Processing Disorder. She finds it hard to cope with the outside world and becomes easily overwhelmed by lots of things such as loud noises, new places, meeting people, ordering at restaurants and changes in the weather.

Iris has coping mechanisms she uses in these situations such as humming, beatboxing, and making musical contraptions out of items around her. Iris lives with her mum Maisy but the book focuses on her quest to compete in a national bake-off contest. It’s the getting there that proves challenging though…

I don’t want to spoil the book incase you’d like to read it but below is a brief story description of the book taken from Amazon:

Iris Heller runs away to compete in a national bake-off contest. In order to get there, she “borrows” her mum’s car, travels through several states, and does the most terrifying thing of all — interacts with actual people! Iris has never been like other girls, but she’s not about to start letting that get in the way.

Iris has this profound fascination for the musician Dave Matthews, and she feels a compelling need to compete in the bake-off for Dave. It is this talent that gets noticed at several road stops along the way, which leads to her inevitable “gone viral” glory. At a donut shop, Iris sings like an angel. At a coffee shop, she plays a symphony using cups and the soda fountain. At a restaurant, she builds a glorious musical fountain out of dishes and pans. 

Iris’ mum (Maisy) and her best friend Eric set out to find Iris. All lives converge at Happy World, the Disney-esque paradise, where the bake-off takes place…

This book is absolutely ideal for anybody to read whether you have or know somebody with Sensory Processing Disorder or not! Also brilliant if you know someone who is a little bit sensory or autistic so I highly recommend to parents, carers, guardians, teachers, therapists and everyone in between.

I will be honest and say that I found it hard to read sometimes because of the sensory things mentioned so I stuck to reading it in small chunks and often. Iris tackles the most terrifying thing of all – interacting with new people along her journey. What I love about Iris is that although she is not like other girls, she doesn’t once let her sensory problems get in the way of her ambitions. Her family, friends and even new people she meets along her journey do their very best to try and accommodate her quirks and understand her more deeply which really was refreshing to read.

I was worried about how the book would end (what can I say, I hate a sad or happy ending I get emotional either way!) but this book surprised me by ending (no spoilers promise) in just the right way and it tied everything together nicely.

So what did I think overall? I saw so much of myself in Iris’s character. The way she struggles with new environments and forgets to breathe is a bit like me too! I learnt a lot from the main character actually, she comes across as the most genuine kind-hearted girl who brings the best out of the world and situations around her without knowing it. Despite the fact her life has been one of isolation and misunderstanding, she really does find out just how much she is loved in the end – definitely worth a read!

Buy a copy of the book in the UK here and in the US here

Note: I was given this review copy of the book free (which was super kind) but everything I have written really is my honest opinion ☺️

 

Sensory Book Review: Sneak Peek

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So the super lovely people at Sensory World (an American publisher who specialises in books on autism and sensory issues) have published a new title called Baking for Dave – a story of sensory processing, challenging yourself, and cupcakes!

In the UK, Eurospan is the distributor for Sensory World books, and they very kindly sent me a copy of the book to review! I am currently half way through the book (I’m a slow reader – sorry!) but I will be doing a review on my blog once I finish it – so keep your eyes peeled! 👀

Here’s a little bit about Melissa Palmer, the author of the book:

Melissa Palmer is a writer, nerd, baker, part-time kitchen dancer, and full-time mom. She pulls from her experiences with her own daughters — the two superheroes who shape and guide her life — to create the world and characters seen in Baking for Dave. 

Buy a copy of the book in the UK here and in the US here

200 Blog Posts!

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My last post discussing being sensational was my 200th post on my blog! I also now have over 260 subscribed followers of my blog so I thought I would take the opportunity to thank everyone for following – it means a lot that people actually read what I say and I absolutely love reading the emails and comments I get.

Don’t forget to check me out on Twitter and Instagram: @21andsensory

New Year, Same Me.

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Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a relatively calm and enjoyable time off. Also hope you all received nice presents (Anyone get any good sensory / therapy toys?)

So I noticed last week that there’s been a lot of New Year resolution’s and ‘fresh beginning’ stuff on the internet. People have been reflecting on 2016 and there’s lots of talk about ‘making everyday count’. That’s all fine and well but all this talk of change has got me thinking:

It’s 2017. But I’m still the same old me.

A new year won’t change who I am or magically improve my sensory problems. I don’t mean for this to sound negative and actually, in fact, I think it’s a positive. I remember always joking with my mum about how many doctors and therapists would ask me ‘If you could wave a magic wand at your problems…’ I won’t bother even finishing that sentence because the reality is that’s never going to happen and would only frustrate me further.

So I decided putting all these thoughts together that my own little unique New Year’s resolution is to challenge myself to embrace who I am more. I shouldn’t have to worry about being judged when I need to explain to people who just don’t understand the way I am and don’t ‘get’ me, and neither should you! So why not challenge yourself? It’s only day 9 of January and it’s not too late to have a go 🙂

To round this New Year’s post off I felt like writing a little insight (which happens to just link nicely with the main image above!):

I am always forgetting and then realising again that I will always be a little bit ‘sensational’.

And do you know what?

It’s more than okay to be sensational. 

(Drawing by  check out her work if you haven't heard of her!)

 

The Podcast Debate…

 

I’ve been thinking….(which is dangerous I know) about maybe possibly starting a podcast… What do you reckon? Would you find this useful? I could do episodes on certain topics and answer peoples questions on everything sensory and more. I could maybe even have guests on to talk about their experiences regarding sensory processing disorder, autism, ADHD, OCD, and more?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Sensory Q&A Answers!

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Thanks everybody for your awesome questions! I got quite a few and I have answered them all individually below:

Which Disney character is your favourite?  What’s your favourite pizza topping.  What’s your #1 sensory nightmare?  #Thanks! From @adam62139
Hi Adam! Thanks so much for your question! Oooooh thats a difficult one. I am actually not a massive fan of disney (*hides from disney superfans*) I find disney films too much to handle emotion-wise because I cry at happy and sad parts! Butttttt if I had to choose a character I would maybe say Pip from the film Enchanted (2007). Pip is a chipmunk who is ADORABLE and I can do a great high pitched squeaky impression of him. I think Pip is small, challenged by the big outside world but is brave and tries to be fearless which is a bit like me…
I love PIZZA! I only eat margarita pizza though so my favourite topping is just cheese 😀
OOOOOOOH. Hard question there! I would say my number one sensory nightmare is being in a loud environment. E.g it could range from a concert environment to a loud restaurant! I am just awful with noise.
Have you used weighted blankets? If so, did you increase the weight of it as you grew?  Did you ever stop using it? From @mikeblair3
Hello! And YES. I love my weighted blanket and have used one since I was about 8ish years old. I got my current one from Sensory Direct (UK) on their website it states that:

‘One of the generally accepted principles of calculating the correct blanket weight is to take 10% of the users body weight and then add a pound. eg – if you have a child that weighs 5 stone this equate to 70lbs (5 x 14). Take 10% of 70lbs = 7 add a further 1 = 8lb blanket’

I definitely increased the weight as I grew as I found I needed more pressure and a longer blanket as I grew! I have done a blog post on my experience hiring and then buying a weighted blanket which might help further here

I unfortunately suffer a lot with night sweats so I find especially in the hotter months I have to sleep without it. I put my weighted blanket (in its own cover) over the top of my existing duvet.

Do you use any other tools or equipment to help? From @sensarounduk via Twitter
Hi! Good question – I have a Sensory DIY box that I use quite a lot. I find brushing my body really helps me and my mum is forever reminding me to do more brushing as part of my ‘sensory diet’. Sometimes I find a real need to walk and bang into walls and interact with the space (with my arms crossed over my chest so it doesn’t hurt) so I find things like walls are great for sensory input. Occupational therapy also works absolute wonders and equipment like awesome hanging swings, yoga balls, etc are also great for spatial awareness and getting sensory feedback. I also adore my ear defenders which are noise cancelling and help me cope in the world.
Hey! I have two questions, I don’t know if you’ve written about these things before here, but here they are: Do you use a time management or task management system? If yes, did it help with SPD? From M.O via comments.
Hi! Thats a great question. I literally LOVE managing my time and using to-do lists, schedules and mobile apps to help me be more organised. I use apps such as IOS Notes, Evernote, To-doist, Google Docs/Sheets, iCal and the IOS Reminder app to name a few! I also love to create mind maps and draw things to remind myself of objects, etc. Let me know if there are any good things you recommend or know of!

Do you feel scared when you have a melt down, not to be in control of your body? xxx From Many of Us 1989 via comments.

Hi! I do feel very scared and also very very alone when I have a meltdown because I cannot explain how I am feeling or acting. I can only express myself in physical emotions which is usually in the form of crying. Crying obviously draws attention to me which means I get asked a lot of questions but I can’t answer them as my body is effectively logging off and shutting down like a computer!If you look on the National Autistic Societies website theres a great quote: ‘If I get sensory overload then I just shut down; you get what’s known as fragmentation…it’s weird, like being tuned into 40 TV channels.’ This is exactly how I feel!

What are you most over and under sensitive to and what are your copping strategies? From Chrissie via comments.

Hey Chrissie! I am most oversensitive to:

  • Loud noises
  • New foods or anything with any herbs or spices
  • Sudden or unexpected touch
  • Most smells that aren’t neutral and I dislike people with distinctive perfumes, shampoos, etc.
  • Most textures (even underfoot when walking!)
  • New environments
  • Crowded places
  • Bright or flickering lights
  • Supermarkets – they are too colourful with all the products!
  • I have an inability to cut out sounds like background noise, leading to difficulties concentrating.
  • I have a low / non-existent pain threshold (even though I don’t think I do because everything that hurts REALLY HURTS to me!)
  • I can only tolerates certain types of clothing or textures.
  • And much, much more that I can’t think of right at the moment!

Under sensitive:

  • To the space around me. I cannot walk in a group of people – I constantly bash and walk into others!
  • I have to have tight hugs and use a weighted blanket because I find touch very difficult.
  • I have the need to rock and swing to get some sensory input.

 

Sensory Q&A!

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I know I haven’t blogged in around a month…so I thought it was about time to get back to it! I also thought I would do another Q&A as I got quite a few questions last time and thought some of my blogs new followers might have some questions 🙂

Feel free to comment a question below (it doesn’t have to be specifically sensory related don’t worry!) I will also post a tweet on my Twitter page asking for questions too.

Keep your eyes peeled for a post with all the answers soon…

‘Making Sense’ Book Review

I was given ‘Making Sense: A Guide to Sensory Issues’ as a birthday present in May. I’ve finally had the chance to properly read it as I’ve recently finished and graduated from uni. The book is written by the lovely Rachel S. Schneider from Coming to My Senses (www.comingtosenses.blogspot.com) and here is a little bit of background on her:

Rachel always found herself particularly sensitive to light, sound, and movement, and she frequently felt disconnected from her body and anxious about the world around her. After years of misdiagnosis, she was found to have SPD in 2010 at the age of 27. Since 2010, Rachel has become an advocate and leader in the adult SPD community’ (Excerpt from Amazon ‘About Author’ section)

I always ALWAYS in the past have got my hopes up when I have been bought or given a book to read regarding Sensory Processing Disorder. However I usually find I end up disappointed as many books are based on toddlers and children and I just can’t relate to anything they say or suggest doing.

BUT…Making Sense is SO so different. This book is PHENOMENAL (This is not a word I use lightly or usually know how to spell!)

Rachel just ‘gets it’ she writes in a beautiful, comical, simple and engaging way that is easy to understand. I have learnt a huge amount from this book including…

  1. We have 8 senses?! Not 5!
  2. There are 3 sub-types of SPD – who knew?
  3. We have sensory organs (Interception being the ‘internal sense’)
  4. Our brains are fully developed by the age of 25 and what ‘neuroplasticity’ means and how important it is.
  5. The difference between a sensory meltdown and a sensory shutdown.
  6. Interesting studies that have / are going to research in SPD and links to neurology and possibly genetics.
  7.  Awesome treatments, therapies and tools for coping with SPD (weighted sleep masks and tinted glasses might just change my life!)
  8. How to stop bad thoughts from whirring around your head.
  9. How amazing ‘hitting the deck’ as an exercise really is and how to recover from a sensory hangover.
  10. What a ‘handler’ is and how important they are to anyone with SPD.
I have learnt so much that I had never come across before and I was diagnosed with SPD aged 8 (meaning I’ve read most sensory books, articles and websites out there!) and I promise you this book is just one of a kind. I don’t want to spoil or mention to much about the contents of the book in my review but I super dooper recommend buying it! It’s worth it and you’ll find yourself returning to it again and again.
One of my favourite quotes from the book is:
Someone with sensory issues doesn’t just merely end one task and begin another. We don’t simply leave the supermarket and step out into the street – we change sensory environments.

This is just SO true and something I relate to so much. I am constantly changing sensory environments and this is what’s super difficult about living with SPD. This is all invisible to everyone around me and Rachel just summed this up so well.

The book can be read cover-to-cover but also equally can be read by jumping to chapters you would like to read. One thing I want to just mention is that I found this book hard to read because of my SPD as things I read triggered feelings and my sensory problems. If you do have SPD don’t let this put you off at all just read it in chunks (which I did which turned out to be ideal).

However if you are a neurotypical or parent/guardian/therapist/etc you’ll have absolutely no problem reading it. I would recommend the book to SPD teenagers and adults but also parents of SPD people whether they are children or older. Rachel really provides an insight into everyday living with SPD that I feel everyone could benefit from reading and understanding.

The book has the most amazing illustrations done by the super talented Kelly Dillon from Eating off Plastic (https://eatingoffplastic.wordpress.com) I found I could relate to each illustration as they were so funny and true which made me laugh quite a lot…!

This book also touches on SPD in relation to mental health but also Autism (ASD) this was insightful. I learnt that SPD can mimic mental health disorders and although Autistic people have sensory difficulties, a person can have SPD and not be autistic (like myself).This was a super interesting read too as my brother is Autistic (he is a sensory seeker though, whereas I am a sensory avoider!) but I learnt so much about the similarities and differences between both ‘disorders’.

Okay so let’s wrap this review up nicely…This book is the most informative book on SPD that I have ever come across. This book sums me up as a person and I will be lending it to multiple friends and family because it really is so informative. This book really is phenomenal.

‘Making Sense: A Guide to Sensory Issues’ is available to buy on Amazon for £11.95 (totally worth it – treat yourself!)