sensory strategies

When it’s too hot for weighted blankets?

Anonymous asked

Spending a lot of time with a blanket wrapped around me, and/or under weighted blankets helps me to reduce the intensity of my sensory overload difficulties, but as the weather gets warmer this is harder for me to do because I get overheated after even a few minutes. Any advice or suggestions of ways that other people have dealt with this kind of issue? I’ve been using a small weighted wrap around my shoulders during the day, but it doesn’t help as much as being enclosed in a blanket does.

realsocialskills said:

I have a few thoughts. I am hoping that others will as well.

A different kind of weighted blanket:

  • There are several kinds of weighted blankets, and a lot of differences affect heat.
  • It matters what the fabric is, and it matters what the filling is.
  • There are various things weighted blankets may be filled with. The coolest (least insulating) material I’m aware of is plastic pellets.
  • If your blanket is stuffed with something else, trying a plastic-pellets-based blanket might work better for you.
  • (Especially if the blanket you have now is filled with sand).
  • Similarly, some blankets have padding like a regular blanket, and some just have the weighted filling.
  • If your blanket also has regular-blanket-stuffing, it will be at least as hot as a regular blanket. 
  • So if you have a padded weighted blanket, it might be worth trying a weight-only weighted blanket.
  • It also matters what the fabric is. If the fabric is light and breathable, the blanket won’t heat you up as much.
  • (I’ve seen some school-or-institutional plastic weighted blankets for sale — those could be *really* hot and sticky since there’s not much air flow).
  • If your blanket is heavy denim or flannel or something, it might be worth trying something with lighter weight cotton. The weight can come from the pellets inside.
  • tl;dr The least-hot kind of weighted blanket is one made of lighter-weight cotton on the outside, plastic pellets on the inside, and no blanket padding that normal blankets have.

A sheet:

  • If you like being enclosed, a sheet might work as well as a blanket.
  • A lightweight sheet is much less likely to overheat you. 
  • It’s also easier to carry around than something weighted.
  • (Things like Body Sox might also work; I’m not sure if anyone’s making them in adult sizes though.)

Tight-fitting clothing:

  • Some people who like the deep pressure of weighted blankets also like the pressure of tight clothing.
  • Some people like to wear tight-fitting undershirts or other undergarments for similar reasons. (which has the advantage of not being conspicuous)

Switching to a movement-based strategy:

  • For some people, movement works just as well or better than weight
  • One reason some people like weighted blankets is that they can give good proprioceptive input (the sense of knowing where your body is)
  • If a weighted blanket is helping you to feel your body, moving might work just as well or better. 
  • For instance, rocking might help.
  • Doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work very well for some people.

Doing other things to cool yourself or your environment:

  • It may be easier to change the temperature than to change your sensory strategy.
  • So, here are some possible ways you might cool off:
  • Moving to the coolest room in your house
  • Closing the blinds so the room won’t end up getting as much heat from light
  • Turning on air conditioning if you can afford it
  • Wrapping an ice pack in a towel or something and having it under the blanket with you
  • Getting a fan if you don’t have one
  • Or a bigger fan if you do have one
  • Making sure the fan’s blowing directly at you when you’re under your blankets
  • If you have long hair, cutting it shorter might make you less overheated
  • If you’re wearing clothing made out of heavy fabric, wearing lighter fabric can help
  • Hats also trap a lot of heat. Not wearing a hat, or wearing a lighter hat, can cool you off.
  • Drinking cold beverages might help too
  • Cooking with an oven will really heat up your living area in a way that takes a while to disperse. Cooking with a stovetop, microwave, or toaster oven doesn’t raise the temperature like that.  
  • There are a lot of other strategies I don’t know or am not remembering
  • tl;dr There might be ways to cool off yourself or your environment enough that you can keep using your blanket without overheating

Anyway, that’s what I can think of in terms of what you might do if you find that using your weighted blanket doesn’t work when it’s hot. You can try a less-insulating kind of weighted blanket. Or using a sheet instead of a blanket. Or wearing tight fitting clothing. Or switching to a movement-based strategy (can work if you’re using weighted blankets for proprioceptive input). Or doing other things to cool off yourself or your environment so you can go back to using your weighted blanket.

I’m sure there are a lot of other options I’m not thinking of — anyone want to weigh in? What do you do when it’s too hot for your weighted blanket?

on stimming in class

thatwriterchickyouknow:

autisticprivilege:



realsocialskills:

alwaysatrombonist said to realsocialskills:

Do you know of any quiet or discrete fidget/stim toys? I find that I need to fidget in my school discussion group to keep from getting super anxious, but if I play with a hairband under the table or doodle then people notice. Most of the fidget toys I find online are colourful, which I don’t want because people will see. I will try a stress ball, but I think that my fingers need to be doing things. Thank you :)

realsocialskills said:

A couple of thoughts:

There probably aren’t many ways to stim that are completely undetectable. Some things I can think of that might be harder to detect than some others:

  • Rocking back and forth subtly
  • Chewing gum
  • Using typing as a stim (eg: typing out scripts or words you like over and over)
  • Using a spinner ring or a gear ring if you’re in a context in which wearing rings is socially acceptable

Also, knitting and crocheting are not discreet at all, but they are often socially accepted in classes or group conversations. Depending on your particular group, that might be an option.

Another thought: maybe it’s ok if people notice:

  • Stimming isn’t necessarily as dangerous as it feels
  • Sometimes it’s okay to stim openly. Sometimes nothing awful happens
  • And sometimes people react badly, but in ways that are easier to put up with than the stress of suppressing stims
  • Stimming openly and conspicuously is not the right choice for everyone
  • But it’s probably the right choice for more people than realize it
  • So it might be worth reconsidering whether hiding your stims is the right choice
  • Or it might not be. You’re the best judge of this, and you have no obligation to stim visibly. 

Does anyone else want to weigh in? What are some ways you stim discreetly? What are some considerations about when to stim discreetly and when to stim openly?

autisticprivilege said:
bookoftextures is good

thatwriterchickyouknow said:

I personally find a stylus makes a pretty discreet stim toy. I spin one around in my fingers CONSTANTLY when I tutor or am in meetings so I can concentrate. Pens and pencils you can’t click also work if you want to stay quiet and discreet.

Also, any sort of putty or clay is great, since it’s silent and can be pretty discreetly played with in one hand. You may want to make sure you keep it in a plastic bag or something though so it doesn’t dry out!

when a seder is overloading

thelimpingdoctor replied to your post: Passover asks?

How do you deal with sensory overload in a situation where you can’t leave?

realsocialskills said:

Based on context, I think you’re probably asking about being overloaded at a large noisy seder.

There might be more options for leaving and taking a break than you might realize. I’m going to discuss those, then some thoughts on how to deal with it if leaving isn’t an option. 

Some options for taking breaks:

Helping in the kitchen

  • At seders, there are often (not always) things going on in the kitchen that people would welcome help with
  • If you find doing stuff in the kitchen less overloading than being at the table, excusing yourself to go help might be a socially acceptable way to take a break
  • Some examples of things people might welcome help with:
  • Cutting vegetables
  • Serving soup
  • Bringing out other things 
  • Washing dishes

Playing with the kids:

  • At a lot of seders, there are little kids who kind of run in and out
  • If these are kids you know, or they’re related to you, it may be socially acceptable for you to take breaks and play with the kids
  • This depends on the culture of your family or community; it’s fairly common for it to be socially acceptable, but it’s not universal

Pretending you have to go to the bathroom:

  • At a long seder, most people will excuse themselves to use the bathroom at least once
  • If you take a break for about that amount of time, that’s what people will assume you were doing
  • (You can also actually go to the bathroom even if you don’t need to use it - bathrooms can sometimes be a good place to take a break from sensory overload since people will usually leave you alone for a few minutes if you’re in the bathroom)

Options if you can’t take breaks or taking breaks doesn’t help enough:

Get oriented:

  • Sometimes sensory overload is caused as much by disorientation as by sensations
  • One way to become more oriented is to think through in advance what’s likely to happen
  • If you feel like stuff is more predictable, it’s likely to be less overwhelming and sensory stuff might be easier to manage
  • If this is a seder you’ve been to before, it might help think about what usually happens. Who will be there? How do they usually act? Who will ask the four questions?
  • It also might be a good idea to look through the hagaddah. Here’s one online.
  • If you’re feeling overloaded during the seder, it’s worth considering the possibility that you have become disoriented
  • If you look through the haggadah, figure out where you are in the seder, and how much is left, it might help you to become more oriented and less overloaded
  • It may also help to use a visual schedule, which shows you at a glance what to expect and in what order. Here’s one you can print, organized by cup.

Using solid objects to ground yourself:

  • If you’ve become really overloaded or disoriented, sometimes grabbing hold of something solid can help a lot
  • If you’re at a seder, the most readily available solid thing is likely to be the table
  • If there’s someone present you trust who is ok with it, holding someone’s hand can help a lot too in ramping down overload

Sit in a less overloading place in the room:

  • Sitting on the edge of the room is likely to be less overloading than sitting in the middle
  • Sitting on the end or near the end of a table is likely to be less overloading than sitting between several people
  • Sitting near the door is likely to be less overloading (especially if you get overloaded from feeling trapped)
  • If there are florescent lights in the room, it helps to pay attention to whether one of them is flickering
  • If you’re already overwhelmed going into the room, you might not notice right away, even though it will bother you later. If flickering lights bother you, it’s worth making a point of checking to see if the light is flickering when you decide where to sit
  • If the room is likely to be very loud, you might be more comfortable if you use ear plugs. You can get disposable ones for cheap at a pharmacy

Stimming:

  • Some people can stop overload by moving in certain ways
  • Most people can at least mitigate it a little
  • Rocking back and forth can help a lot (and it’s not that weird in a lot of Jewish settings, particularly if there are a lot of religious people present.)
  • If you have stim toys that usually work for you, it might be a good idea to bring them
  • If you’re worried about stigma, it might work better to use different things
  • (That said, if a room is crowded and noisy and overloading, it’s very likely that no one is actually looking at you)
  • If you wear rings or bracelets, you can play with them
  • You can also play with the silverware if the seder isn’t extremely formal. You probably won’t be the only one.
  • You can also stim with the haggadah. (by holding it in your hands, flipping the pages, looking through it, or even reading it.)
  • If you have a water bottle with a stem you can chew the stem
  • (You can also eat stuff as a way of getting to chew to reduce overload. If you do that with stuff like celery rather than stuff like chicken it’s less likely to make you uncomfortably full)
  • You might be able to bring seder-themed stim toys to use, particularly if you bring enough to share. (For instance, if you bring out plastic frogs for the ten plagues, probably no one will think twice about you continuing to play with them)

Participating actively also might help to handle overload:

  • Sometimes it can be less overloading to participate in something than to be passively present while something is happening
  • This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true for a lot of people
  • For instance, if people are singing loud songs and it’s overloading, you might be more physically comfortable if you sing the songs too
  • (This doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for some people)
  • If it’s a big seder and people are going on and on and you’re overloaded, ignoring what’s going on and reading the haggadah might work. (In that setting, you’re probably not going to be the only one doing that.)
  • Asking questions and arguing might be less overloading than being in the room while other people are doing that

Talking to people might also be an option:

tl;dr Passover seders can be really overloading. Scroll up for some ideas about how to deal with that.

buckybits:

Headphones to reduce noise?

beautifuloutlier:

realsocialskills:

realsocialskills:

said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the…

buckybits said

I often “hear my own blood” in my ears when I’m sick or have a headache. Most closed-ear headphones replicate this feeling immediately and rather painfully, so I normally stick with earbuds that aren’t those silicon sealing types, or open-ear headphones that have their drivers close to my ear canal. Over-the ear clip-on style are pretty awesome, but earbuds keep wind and similar noises out better.

theojoiegrise:

kinsara:

warning for anyone with a panic disorder or aversion to loud or startling noises

people may not warn you of this but if you ever get an MRI, there are a lot of very loud and sudden sounds that accompany it.

you can listen to a quieter version of them here so you can know in advance what it will be like

please spread this around, nobody told me about it ahead of time and it was not a good experience.

theojoiegrise said:

I second this. Mine was part of a study about autism, so they did warn me and give me earplugs to wear AND earphones to block the sound (it was still really annoying but I could stand it.) If you have one scheduled it might be good to ask the staff to have that.

wyntreblossom199-autismblog:

Headphones to reduce noise?

realsocialskills:

realsocialskills:

said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the noisiness of the group. They…

wyntreblossom199-autismblog said:

https://www.therapyshoppe.com/category/P587-ultimate-10-earmuffs-noise-sensitivity-autism-ear-muff

wolfesbrain:

Headphones to reduce noise?

actualtsoni:

realsocialskills:

realsocialskills:

said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the noisiness of…

wolfesbrain said:

If price is an issue, you can also look for “noise-isolating” or “noise-blocking” kit. Noise canceling is (if I’m understanding things correctly) supposed to be an active process of taking in sound and putting out sound waves that’re equal and opposite so that they cancel out.

Noise-isolating/blocking is usually passive and works as it sounds, by blocking sound from entering the ear.

As for brand reccs, I have a bad habit of pushing Skullcandy brand gear. They’re well-built, reasonably priced, and of high enough quality that someone who’s not an audiophile won’t complain. Plus, they’ve got an awesome warranty. Manaufacturers defects equal replacement no questions asked, if you destroy them accidentally, they’ll give you a credit for 50% of the current MSRP of the broken device towards the purchase of a new one.

ways some people use headphones to reduce overload from noise

kiwisson replied to your post “Headphones to reduce noise?”:
no particular brand recs (my favorite pair are cheap generic) but in general - try a music store or similar? see if you can try the headphones on before purchasing? i find padding that fits AROUND the ear is comfier than ON the ear.
insomniacafeisnotunique replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_13?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ear+defenders&sprefix=ear+defenders%2Caps%2C200 Not sure whether it’s these you’re looking for, but I have ear defenders like the ones on Amazon, and they’re good.
zwartezwaluw replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
I have a Bose Quietcomfort 15. It is really comfortable and light and it works really well. It is 300 dollars/euro’s though… You can get them online or at an high end electronics store.
einhornglitzenkampf replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
I use some £20 over the head Sony headphones and play white noise into them. I also use them to listen to music on long journeys so they have at least 3hrs comfy wear in them.
zandraart replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
i have adhd and using bose’ noise cancelling headphones, even when not plugged into music, really helps me focus and recenter! :)
quietgames replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
I use musician’s earplugs, because they’re more discrete and I can use them comfortably for longer periods of time than earmuffs (2-3 hours). They’re really good for reducing background noise, especially in crowded places.

justlittlescumbags replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
i know some people who are sound sensitive who use headphones that are i think made for use at shooting ranges. similar ones come up if you just google “shooting headphones.” i don’t use them myself however so can’t recommend any certain brand.
occoris replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
I have a Bluetooth collar with earbuds that I use for this sometimes- even just the slight muffling of noise helps a lot lot

Headphones to reduce noise?

actualtsoni:

realsocialskills:

 said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the noisiness of the group. They were only comfortable to wear for about 45 minutes-an hour, though. Do you or any of your followers have any advice on how to find similar earmuffs/headphones that would be comfortable for long wear on a very large adult head?

realsocialskills said:

I don’t know, but I bet a lot of people who read this do.

People who use earmuffs or headphones to avoid auditory overload - which kind do you use? What’s the most comfortable? And where can you buy them?

actualtsoni said:

i find earmuffs to be uncomfortable in general, triggering a lot of my sensory overload triggers anyways. trade off auditory overload for tactile overload, not exactly what i wanna do.

so i went with headphones instead. bose noise-cancelling headphones are designed to be comfortable and cancel noise pretty well, but theyre definitely not strong enough for very noisy situations. for those i usually have to play enya through the headphones instead, which has saved me from quite a few overload situations, especially in places like my school cafeteria. the combination of music and noise cancellation has helped me, personally, but i know its different for everyone.

plus no one really questions you wearing bose headphones everywhere. theyre pretty nice headphones, so why wouldnt you? they can be expensive, but definitely not as expensive as beats. not sure if lower-quality headphones would also do the trick, but i went as high as my budget would allow and have never regretted it, theyve become essential in my life since. couldnt live without them.

you can get them at best buy and look for labels that describe them as noise cancelling, or if you can, ask one of the people there that youre looking for headphones with good sound quality and noise cancellation. theyll try to sell you beats, so you have to say something like “i don’t care about brand recognition” or “i don’t need beats, just good headphones.” you’ll be paying for the brand, and you only want to be paying for the noise cancellation.

iguanafish:

Headphones to reduce noise?

said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the noisiness of the group. They were only comfortable to…

iguanafish said:

My mom has a set of Bose noise canceling headphones, there’s a switch that actually blocks background noise but you can still hear voices clearly (but quieter).

They also work as music headphones. They are heavy but very padded–maybe more so that firing range or construction muffs since they’re for everyday wear?

I think they are quite expensive.

jemthecrystalgem:

Headphones to reduce noise?

said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the noisiness of the group. They were only comfortable to…

jemthecrystalgem said:

https://www.therapyshoppe.com/category/1386-sleeping-sensory-defensiveness-special-needs-child-therapy-products

Idk how comfy they are but there’s something like that here

On stimming in class

alwaysatrombonist said to realsocialskills:

Do you know of any quiet or discrete fidget/stim toys? I find that I need to fidget in my school discussion group to keep from getting super anxious, but if I play with a hairband under the table or doodle then people notice. Most of the fidget toys I find online are colourful, which I don’t want because people will see. I will try a stress ball, but I think that my fingers need to be doing things. Thank you :)

realsocialskills said:

A couple of thoughts:

There probably aren’t many ways to stim that are completely undetectable. Some things I can think of that might be harder to detect than some others:

  • Rocking back and forth subtly
  • Chewing gum
  • Using typing as a stim (eg: typing out scripts or words you like over and over)
  • Using a spinner ring or a gear ring if you’re in a context in which wearing rings is socially acceptable

Also, knitting and crocheting are not discreet at all, but they are often socially accepted in classes or group conversations. Depending on your particular group, that might be an option.

Another thought: maybe it’s ok if people notice:

  • Stimming isn’t necessarily as dangerous as it feels
  • Sometimes it’s okay to stim openly. Sometimes nothing awful happens
  • And sometimes people react badly, but in ways that are easier to put up with than the stress of suppressing stims
  • Stimming openly and conspicuously is not the right choice for everyone
  • But it’s probably the right choice for more people than realize it
  • So it might be worth reconsidering whether hiding your stims is the right choice
  • Or it might not be. You’re the best judge of this, and you have no obligation to stim visibly. 

Does anyone else want to weigh in? What are some ways you stim discreetly? What are some considerations about when to stim discreetly and when to stim openly?

Headphones can mean leave me alone

When people are in public places like a library, street, coffee shop,or subway, they often wear headphones as a way to create some private space.

People who wear headphones or earbuds in public usually do not want to be approached by strangers. If you know them well, it might be ok to ask, but it’s probably better to err on the side of leaving them alone.

The flip side: if you wear headphones, most people will assume that you don’t want to be approached. If you’re wearing headphones for sensory reasons but you want to interact with people, you will likely have to initiate it yourself. It also might help to let your friends know that you welcome interaction even when you are wearing headphones.

andreashettle:

When sound words take over and hurt

realsocialskills:

I hate sound words. They hurt so bad. People do sound words and they keep doing them for hours. They never stop it. I put my hands on my ears. They don’t like that because it’s innappropriate.
The only way I can stop the sound words is hit my head so I hear…

andreashettle said:

Would sign language help at all? I know that won’t help in all circumstances because obviously you can only use sign language if

1. You learn signs that are useful for you, AND,

2. Are with someone who will understand your signs and know enough signs to sign things to you at least some of the time

And most people don’t know any sign language at all. But if sign words hurt any less than sound words, then one option would be to seek out people who sign, including deaf people or people with other disabilities (autism, intellectual disabilities) who might also sometimes learn a few signs.  Or see if some of your closest friends or family are willing to learn at least a little sign language for use with you.

The best way to learn sign language is usually to be around people who are using sign language a lot.  And taking a class in sign language can also help.  (This should ideally be with a deaf professor or someone else who has been signing since birth or early childhood, though this tends to be more important for advanced sign classes and maybe less important for introductory sign classes. But whether the teacher is deaf or hearing, it is preferable to take sign classes from someone who has been specifically trained in teaching sign language as they may know better techniques for teaching sign language.) 

Or if these are not options, you can google for free videos of signs on line.  If you are not sure if sign words will hurt less than sound words, then maybe watching a few sign language videos can help you decide.

 Make sure you are looking at videos for the sign language in dominant use in YOUR country.  If you are in the U.S., you do not want to be learning British Sign Language! Or vice versa!  (Because, yes, these are VERY different sign languages, people who only know ASL will NOT understand BSL or vice versa.)  American Sign Language (ASL) is used in both the U.S. and in English-speaking parts of Canada, but NOT in the UK (BSL), Australia (Auslan), New Zealand, or most other countries.  The Quebec Deaf has their own sign language that is NOT the same as ASL or BSL, and is NOT the same as as the sign language used in France. And so forth.  Videos are not a perfect way to learn the grammar and syntax of sign language, but it still works MUCH better than trying to learn signs from a book.  Do not even try learning sign language from a book, it will not work.

parizadhe:

realsocialskills:

The sound of an apple being chewed drives me up the wall. Usually, when I am eating with someone and they pull out an apple, i can come up with a reason to excuse myself (bathroom, gotta take a phone call, etc.), but not always. I have also tried telling the…

parizadhe said:

I’ve had severe misophonia since I was a kid. It’s not just apples, but a LOT of noises–particularly relating to the mouth and nose–that set me off. I have to be very careful in noisy situations that it doesn’t trigger a full-blown panic attack, and I’ve been known to pass out from thee stress of “dealing with” my aversion to noises.

The best thing I’ve found is to carry headphones and an iPod or something EVERYWHERE I go. I have headphones or earplugs with me at all times. And when the noise gets too bad, I put the headphones on and crank up the music and try to divert my attention. I find it’s best to just be very honest with people you’re around, if you feel they may be insulted by this. “I’m not trying to ignore you, I just have a severe reaction to certain sounds.”

I’ve found that it helps to just be honest with people about it. Telling them about your sensitivity, tell them *it’s not their fault* and *it’s not something you can help either,* and tell them you will be right back/you’ll take off the headset when they’re done with the apple.

At the end of the day, your mental health trumps their right to eat an apple anyway, so you’re perfectly justified finding a solution that works for everyone involved.

realsocialskills said:

Thank you for your reply. I think your suggestions about how to discuss this are really good.

I somewhat disagree with you about “your mental health trumps their right to eat an apple anyway”. Sometimes that’s true, but not always. Sometimes it’s a competing access need.

There are all kinds of reasons why people sometimes have to eat right now, and why they might specifically need to eat an apple or something else that makes horrible sounds. It’s probably not usually going to be possible to tell from the outside whether someone has an important need to eat an apple.

I think that it’s better to err on the side of assuming that both people involved have needs that matter.

easilyannoyedcamwhore:

Substitutes for picking

realsocialskills:

#tw body horror and self harm Hi, do you have any idea how I can stop myself from picking at my skin when stressed (esp. when social interaction of any kind happens)? I hurt my foot soles because I try to pick the dead skin and tear into…

easilyannoyedcamwhore said:

Wearing bracelets which interlock/interact with each other - Like lots of beads which you can roll across each other, or around the string, or hard bangles which click and rub against each other. I wear a mixture of star-shaped pony beads on elastic, black and white letters on crimp-cable, and solid copper bull rings. They’re a lot of fidget, they pleasantly stimulate the skin when you’ve got them in motion, and they’re something that you can wear all the time and nobody really notices.

It has the bonus effect of making it difficult to get to the skin underneath them, if you wear a lot of them.

kinthulou:

realsocialskills:

andreashettle:

asexual-aragorn:

Anyone have tips on cashiering while autistic/nvld? 

I got a job in a grocery store, and those seem to overstimulate me really fast. Hopefully it won’t be too bad because with cashiering I only have to do the same thing over and over, rather than trying to maneuver around people. (uggh but the lights and the intercom and the noise and the people and the long shifts)

so far I have:

1. Stim specifically when I get home/ do a lot of “active relaxation” things like guided meditations and yoga rather than tv or internet

2. I have a nice pocket figit toy that makes waiting on line in food places almost bearable- so bring that

3. Try to keep my blood sugar steady

4. when I feel myself start to get overwhelmed do some breathing 

andreashettle said

In addition to doing stims and “active relaxation” after you’re done or arrive home, could you also do these things (or similar things) before you start? So that way at least you’re not adding stress on top of more stress from whatever you were doing before starting to cashier stuff.

Is there a way you can occasionally go to a quiet spot somewhere for a couple of minutes in the middle to do stimming or active relaxation as an occasional break during?

I’m not autistic so I cannot draw upon my own experience here (my ADD does sometimes get me overwhelmed in certain overstimulating situations like trying to shop for clothes, but I think not to the same degree as overloading for an autistic person), but extrapolating from what you do already …

realsocialskills said:

Do any of y’all have suggestions?

kinthulou said:

I cashier! And do customer service. And I’m pretty sure I’m autistic. 

Cashiering is my least favorite thing but over the last year I have gotten really good at it. I’m lucky that my store isn’t super big or loud all of the time, but sometimes it is and here is how I cope. Maybe some of it will be useful for you, too, asexual-aragorn?

1. Purposeful stimming while working. There’s music in my store which is really nice and good for dancing to, and I’ve found that swaying and rocking and repetitive arm movements, all components of dancing in one spot, are super helpful and don’t bother anybody. My boss thinks I dance because I’m cheerful, but really I do it because it’s helpful. Some of it I can even do *while* ringing up customers!

I also have a ring on a string around my neck that I fidget with when I am super stressed. Similarly, I will fidget with my ace pride ring. 

I basically stim in one way or another constantly and it’s the most helpful thing.

2. Scripts. So many scripts. Ninety percent of everything I say to customers is scripted. I have a script for when they come into the store, arrive at my register, answering the phone, explaining the rewards cards, and separate scripts for each way that a person could pay. I have scripts for when it’s too loud and I can’t hear the customer talking to me, and for when a customer has a heavy accent that I can’t make out. There are scripts for telling customers where things are and for telling them I don’t have an answer for their question and need to get the manager. I practice them. I write them down if need be and read them over and over. I’m terrible at multitasking but I know my scripts so well that I can rattle them off while doing other things. I can say any of these scripts when I’m incapable of saying anything else. I probably say them in my sleep. 

3. On days when the lights are too much for me, I wear my hat. See if your store has a uniform hat and get one. It’s invaluable for shading eyes against the lights. 

4. If you’re having a day where you can’t do eye contact, don’t do eye contact. Smile, be cheerful and helpful and polite, but just keep your head down and ring. I’ve been doing this a year now and no one has noticed that I often don’t look at their faces. 

5. If you ever get overstimulated and it’s making it difficult for you to answer a customer’s question or something, call your manager for help. even if it’s something you can usually handle on your own. You don’t even have to be out to your supervisors as autistic, just tell them that you’re having an off day and got confused. The important thing is that the customer stays happy, not that you can do all the things all the time.

6. If there are things other than just ringing up purchases that your job requires (like mine does), make lists. Break the lists down into manageable chunks and keep them where you can see them. Even if I don’t need the list to help me remember things, just having it there is a little grounding, because I know that if I get overwhelmed I still have it there to tell me what to do.

7. Going to second breathing exercises and keeping your blood sugar steady. Those will be fantastic for you. 

8. I don’t know if this is a common thing or not, but I always function significantly better in spaces that I have taught myself to think of as “safe spaces.” It took a couple of months, but I turned the space behind all the counters at the registers into safe spaces and now I feel better just being there where I am supposed to be.

9. If you have a locker at work to keep your things in while on duty, it’s a good idea to get stuff to put in it that will help you calm down and get centered again on your breaks. I keep a book in mine to read and most recently added the softest microplush throw blanket I have ever found, so when I’m frazzled I can wrap up in it for a few minutes. It really helps. 

10. Establish routines. A beginning of shift routine and an end of shift routine are super important. I always start and end my shifts with the same little actions of setting up and then tidying up my work station. That gets me into “work mode” and mentally prepares me for whatever the work day might throw at me. 

11. Remember that it is okay not to make small talk if you are not up to it. Most customers don’t care if all you do is make noncommittal noises and smile while they talk.

12. Remember the regulars. You don’t need names or anything complicated. Just remembering whether or not they have (or don’t want) a store rewards card or whatever will make them like you a lot and also make your life a lot easier. I’ve found that my regulars are now the highlight of my day, and I can banter with them and when they don’t see me for a while they ask about me and seeing them generally helps me out a lot. This is a thing that happens over time, though, so no pressure to get it all down immediately.

13. Be nice to your coworkers. Befriend them if possible. (Note: befriending doesn’t mean, like, actual friends. Just work friends. You don’t have to see them outside of work or anything.) Help them if you’re having a good day and they’re stuck on something you know how to handle. They will have your back when you get overwhelmed. I had a near-meltdown at the beginning of one of my shifts and everyone on the team helped me out that day so that I could get through. We’re at the point now where any time they see I’m struggling with my job, someone steps up to help. None of them know I’m autistic. They do it because they like me.

The repetition will be helpful and I think as long as you take care of yourself, you’ll find over time it’s not as overwhelming as you thought it would be. I know I am the most impaired—socially and by sensory overload and physical disability—at my store but I am the favorite of most of the customers and also most of my coworkers. I surprised myself a lot by really liking my job despite cashiering remaining my least favorite thing.

Okay that got really long but I’ve been thinking about this a *lot* and i hope at least some of it is super helpful. 

And if you want help coming up with scripts, shoot me a message! I’m really good at those! I will help!

another reply about picking

Here is how I went from spending 6-7 hours per day sitting and picking my scalp and not doing anything else to only picking very rarely. 1. Went of medication that had anxiety as a side effect. 2. Playing with blu-tac 3. Stopped wearing dark trousers (because I used to pick my scalp and want to see flakes of skin fall onto my lap and they showed up best against a dark background. Lighter trousers made it harder to see them. 4. Willpower 5. Soothing anxiety with music, TV and playing with cats