Where Am I Going, Where Have I Been

Unlike the short story that the title alludes to, this post is about happy things.

August 2012

When I started blogging, it was scary to be writing about myself. I had no idea what me talking about me sounded like. At first I think I simply imitated the voices of other bloggers I liked, holding myself at arm’s length as a defense mechanism.

I probably shouldn’t have been as worried as I was. Few people read those early posts in real time. A lot of you have since mainlined the entire blog (in chronological order, no less), but at the time, I was mostly shouting in the wilderness.

There have been times when I’ve been tempted to go back and revise some of the early posts. I had little knowledge about autism and no right sounding as authoritative as I did. But I’ve let them stand as they are because I like the record they create and I like the evolution I can trace in my writing and in the way I’ve come to think about autism and being autistic. I’ve learned a lot in 26 months, some through research and self-examination, but just as much through the comments that so many of you have generously shared.

As the number of comments on each post has grown, I’ve come to see my writing as a conversation starter and I look forward to seeing what readers will add to my initial thoughts.

I’ve never been good at writing conclusively. Endings are my nemesis. Thankfully, blogging is suited as much to asking questions as to providing answers. 

August 2013

I doubt I’m alone in being a blogger who dreamed of writing a book. For a long time, it was simply a “some day” kind of dream. There were two unfinished novels languishing on my hard drive and for the first year of blogging I was having too much fun researching and serendipitously writing posts to muster the amount of executive function that putting together a book would require.

Then something clicked for me one random weekend in August and I went a little nuts with Post-it notes and Google docs folders. In typical aspie fashion, I plowed through a first draft in weeks of furious cutting, polishing, adding and organizing. I revised and edited until I couldn’t stand to look at the words anymore and then, while everyone was sprinting through NaNoWriMo, I set myself a goal of sending out a proposal by the end of November.

The only problem was, the book still didn’t have an ending.

It wasn’t until an editor at JKP asked to see the full manuscript that I sat down to write the ending. A bit desperate and up against a deadline, I spent a lot of time complaining to The Scientist about how hard endings are. As he always does in that situation, he told me to go back to the beginning.

I have no idea where he originally heard that bit of advice, but it’s brilliant and nearly foolproof. Endings proceed from beginnings–sometimes in obvious ways, but more often in unexpected ways.

August 2014

August 2014 was a hard month. While I’d spent the previous two Augusts immersed in words, this year I swore off writing (and reading). By August sixth I was bored senseless and had started to question what my life would look like if my language abilities continued to decline at the pace they have been over the past year.

Apparently I can only play The Sims for so long before an existential crisis sets in.

I’ll spare you the details of the two weeks of self-pity that ensued and jump right to the “It’s August so it must be time to hatch some sort of epic life-changing plot to do something I know almost nothing about.”

The result was this: Stimtastic

I’d been thinking for a while that it would be cool if there was a place that autistic adults (and teens and parents of autistic kids, but especially adults) could get stim toys and chewable jewelry that was specifically for us and that had a consciously stimming-positive message. Then I realized that, “hey, maybe I could make that happen.”

My brain started running off in all sorts of directions. What if the website was not only stimming-positive, what if we used all autistic models? What if we didn’t gender our products? What if we gave back a portion of every sale to the autistic community? What if we supported autistic artists by selling autistic designed products? What if we created a program to help out autistic adults who couldn’t afford things like stim toys and AAC and weighted blankets?

Most of this is still a dream. If you checked out the website, you can see that I’m starting out small. After weeks spent playing with stim toys, I’ve settled on a few that I love to start. If things go well, the site will grow.

And I hope they go well. I’m an idealist at heart and what I’m envisioning for Stimtastic is an extreme manifestation of that. For example, I saw someone on Tumblr post about how they’d like to create cute, stylish weighted vests or jackets for autistic adults. Because we should be able to look great and meet our sensory needs, right? A lot of people responded by liking the post and some said that they’d love to own something like that but might not be able to afford it. And immediately I thought, “this is something I could help with!”

I’ve already decided to set aside at least 10% of sales for giving back to the community. What if in addition to traditional charitable giving, it was possible to use some of those proceeds to help individuals get things that make their life better while also supporting an autistic artist or crafter? What if I could help pay for part of the cost of weighted vests/jackets, making them more accessible to a greater number of people?

Bringing an idea like that to fruition is probably a long way off, but that hasn’t stopped me in the past. I’m terrible at endings but I’m great at beginnings–the wilder and more unlikely, the better.

October 2014

I don’t know what is about Augusts that make me so restless.

It’s nearly November now and like last November I find myself putting in extra long days trying to bring an August brainstorm to fruition. There are so many things that I want to do and yet I have to go slowly, at a pace that my brain will tolerate.

Fortunately, The Scientist has been supportive  from the moment I returned from a long run and infodumped for the rest of the morning about my wild new idea. He’s taken all of the photographs for the website and designed the logo. He’s working on some videos, filming and editing them as he has time. Perhaps it’s time to give him a new name. The Artist, maybe?

I’ve known for weeks that I would be making this post and the thought of hitting Publish on it is as terrifying as the first post I ever made.

Looking back on each of my August beginnings, I see that I had no idea where I was going or what would come of those scary plunges into the unknown.

But I know where I’ve been and that gives context to where I want to go, where I’m aiming to go. The autistic community has helped me shape and solidify my identity as an autistic adult. The support and encouragement I’ve gotten over the past two years has been amazing and I’m grateful beyond words for that.

I also know that I’m privileged in many ways and I feel a certain responsibility to put that privilege to good use. Blogging has been an intangible way of giving back, but I’ve been wanting to do something more tangible for a while now.

So here I am, taking what I know and what I’ve been blessed with, and trying to put it to work in a new way. My hope is that Stimtastic will contribute positively to the community, as a website that celebrates stimming and the role it plays in our lives. On a more personal level, I’m hoping that it will be a way for me to stay involved in the autistic community while my language difficulties decide where they’re taking me.

191 thoughts on “Where Am I Going, Where Have I Been”

  1. A few additional notes:

    1. I’m going to do a big giveaway next week for both my book and a bunch of stim toys and chewable jewelry, so keep an eye out for that.

    2. If you have a blog post, video, website, graphic or anything that is stimming positive, please let me know so I can link from the Stimming! Blog. I’ve linked to some things that I remembered off the top of my head, but searching the web is like finding a shiny happy needle in haystack of “here’s how to stop your kid from stimming” posts.

    1. I chuckled just now because I ordered a bunch of goodies before even getting to the part that says extra something if one orders today or tomorrow. 🙂
      But the important thing is: great idea!
      And, yet; I selfishly do want your blog to keep going too.

      1. LOL – free stuff for everyone whether you know about it or not!

        I’ll keep blogging as long as I possibly can. Right now once a week feels doable and I just got some speech recognition software that I think will lessen some of the spelling and typing issues that have cropped up in the past couple of months. Adaptation is my middle name and I love writing too much to give it up without a serious fight.

        1. Like the idea of the website, hope it goes well. I think it will be really good to show people the positive side of stimming, there is so much negative out there.
          How is the speech recognition software?

          1. Thank you! I’m so into the idea of celebrating the positives of stimming.

            The speech recognition software is amazing. I can’t believe how accurate it is. Last night I used it to answer a bunch of comments here that I never would have attempted if I’d had to type out the answers that late in the day. I’m very excited about how it might extend my capacity, especially for work, since most of my work communications are direct and well suited for speech-to-text.

            I’ll be writing a post about it because I’m also having a lot of fun “training” it. My husband laughs every time I say “Wake up, Dragon!” Probably because I say it in the same voice I’d talk to a pet. 🙂

    2. I am so, so sorry for throwing an international order at you. On the plus side, I’ll admit it, I loved being able to use my FeministAspie e-mail alongside a real name! 😛 We’ve had loads of ridiculous unnecessary trouble with receiving parcels in this building, although I’m guessing a necklace is small enough to fit in the letterbox anyway – hopefully it’ll turn up one way or another, and when it does I’ll let you know! 🙂

        1. True 😛 I’m from the UK but currently on studying in France, and I haven’t been here for all that long so everything sort of feels more international-burden-on-other-people-y. Even though shipping to the UK would probably be pretty much exactly the same, thinking about it…. xD

            1. The first thing I looked at was the squeezy balls and what did I forget to add in the end??? Doh! Oh well, there may have to be another order next month – I justify these things as ‘early Christmas presents’ and ‘celebrating a diagnosis presents’ and ‘supporting fellow Aspies’. Basically, if I want it and can afford it, I can justify it 🙂

                1. I think they actually call it ‘any excuse to buy new toys’ 🙂 But it’s so cool to be able to buy yourself new toys AND know that you’re doing a good thing for other autists AND supporting another Aspie. I could almost say that it would have been wrong not to spend money 🙂

      1. I love international orders. I might even start a map on the wall to pin where orders come from. 🙂 The package was really tiny so it should fit in your letterbox hopefully. I just came back from the post office. It was so much fun dropping off the 1st batch of packages. Thank you so much for the enthusiastic support.

        1. Oh yes, an map with pins sounds like great fun! And it’s just reminded me that I thought about getting an ancient history-type map, so well done for that prompt 🙂

  2. Fabulous! And I love the bit about why you don’t have a customer service number 🙂 It’s a brilliant idea & I’m really excited for you.
    Oh yeah, and obviously I’ll be ordering!!

    1. Yay! I was so nervous about posting this and the comments are such a relief.

      Not having a customer service phone number feels a little risky but I’ve decided to be totally up front about what works for me and make this a proudly autistic run business. At the very least, I think other autistic adults will be able to relate. 🙂

      1. People who use the site are likely to be either autistic (in which case they should relate to or understand that) or autistic-friendly (I’d assume) in which case the same applies. Why should we have to do things that we don’t want just to please certain parts of society? You’ve been open and they can email you instead. Life is to be enjoyed so we owe it to ourselves to make our lives the best we can. To hell with phones!!!

          1. Even tiny steps forward are good 🙂 It’s very difficult to put society’s expectations and norms on the scrapheap (they still keep shouting loudly) but if we all make little steps as individuals it becomes pretty damn powerful as a whole. And right now I feel like I’ve got a fleet of battering rams at my disposal – I am invincible 🙂

              1. It may not last but I’m having a great day and feel like I could save the world 🙂 I may settle for eating mince pies on the sofa with a book and getting ready to paint my lounge tomorrow though!! Small steps here too 🙂

                1. Savor your great day. I had one of those yesterday and managed to get all of the things done that left me meltdown-y and frustrated on Tuesday. Gotta take ’em where we find ’em.

        1. I am not autistic but this is really coming up for me too. Finding that place of feeling what is right for me and finding ways to do them rather than always working so hard to fit myself into a box that feels uncomfortable. I think its totally great you know what works for you!

      2. To be fair, so many other companies have JUST a phone number, without any other options, and because it’s the norm nobody gives it a second thought. I really enjoyed reading that bit of the website too!! 🙂

        1. I know, websites that only offer a phone number are so frustrating. As a customer, I really like having a live chat or email option for customer service and will put off calling for days if that’s the only option.

  3. I can’t say now happy this makes me!
    I was searching for this website a couple of months ago, trying to find something that might provide what I want, but I had no joy – it didn’t exist. Now you’ve pulled it all together and dropped it straight into my inbox! Once I have the pennies I will be shopping. Do you know if there is likely to be a customs charge if I order something from the UK? So I can factor that into the cost.

    Thank you 💗

    1. Yay! This makes me so happy because it was exactly what I was feeling when I was searching for stim toys and such over the past year.

      About the customs charge, I Googled it and found this info at HM Revenue and Customs:

      If you order or purchase goods other than alcohol, tobacco, perfume and toilet water from a country outside the EU then you have to pay:
      Customs Duty on goods with a value that exceeds £135
      import VAT on goods with a value that exceeds £15
      Note that on all goods from outside the EU, Customs Duty is waived if the amount of duty calculated is £9 or under.

    2. I’ll let you know when I get my order 🙂
      I’ve only once had a customs charge to pay and that was when I ordered a Miami Dolphins shirt from the US. All the books & dvds etc I’ve ordered over time have been fine.

      1. Thanks, that will be helpful. I’ve had to pay it on yarn and fibre from America, although looking at the HM revenue and customs info above maybe I shouldn’t have.

  4. I posted a screen shot of the jewellery page, including website name and logo at the top, on Instagram with a note saying this new website is making me happy. (And am slightly freeking out now because no one knows I’m autistic and one person I know in real life is a friend on Instagram, but I didn’t say I am or that the site is aimed at autistic people, and I am getting more comfortable with my identity and don’t want to be ashamed of it, but don’t want any awkward conversations either. I’m just being silly.)

      1. Someone (almost certainly NT) replied to the picture with delight at a range of jewellery for fidgeters, and said she constantly fidgets with her jewellery. This got me thinking. Could stimming be fairly natural to all people, but NTs are better at suppressing it because of their style of executive function? I wonder if we do it more because we are frustrated by the world around us more often, and maybe have fewer coping strategies available, but the actual response of stimming is quite universal? Just a thought, people interest me.

        1. I think everyone stims to some degree though most nonautistic people will call it fidgeting or playing with a stress ball or whatever. I’ve wondered for a while now why autistic people do it so much more though. I think sensory regulation is a big piece of the puzzle and many some elements of finding it harder to inhibit movement (an EF issue) and certainly what you say about the world just being frustrating in general sounds like a good explanation too.

            1. I actually wrote about this a long time ago and some people were offended when I brought up the stereoryped (stimming) movements that stressed animals do in an article about autistic people. I meant well but I can see how it was an unfortunate direct comparison.

              1. As I am going with “All people stim to some degree” (especially as I am working on an article to that effect) I didn’t think of that before, but I see your point. You have an e-mail by the way.

              2. Seriously? People were offended? Why? I’m convinced (well…) that my youngest cat is an Aspie – can’t do eye contact, repetitive grooming (stimming when he’s stressed!) (and also a bit OCD cos he does it when I stroke him as if I’ve contaminated his fur!), not great with people….. My dog on the other hand, definitely an NT 🙂

                1. I think the people taking offense were taking it to mean “autistic people are like animals, not humans”, and I can see how that could be seen as offensive.

                2. I see what you mean. But then as I prefer animals (by far) to people & animals seem to be nicer in character (on the whole) I think that I’d rather be compared to an animal than another human 🙂 Maybe a tiger? Or a faithful dog?

                3. I think what Svenja said is correct, that people interpreted as equating autistic people with animals which wasn’t at all what I meant. Obviously. 🙂

                  Like your cat, my dog has a lot of aspie traits, which I think makes her much easier for me to understand. Where a perfect match.

  5. If you have the opportunity to start listing weighted blankets on Stimtastic, may I ask that the description include a reason why they are preferable to normal blankets? I sleep under a blanket, a crochet blanket, a comforter, and a sleeping bag, and not only is the combined weight wondrous, there are many different textures and thicknesses for me to snuggle in to, (probably about 6″-8″ of padding all around), and I have trouble seeing how a thin little blanket would be preferable even if it is weighted. Some of my relatives are happy sleeping under only a SHEET so for now I can only assume it’s personal preference.

    1. Absolutely! That’s a great point. I could never sleep under a sheet. I really need the pressure inputs that heavy blankets provide.

      Also, the only weighted blankets I would carry would be those made by an autistic person. So if anyone out there is crafty and wanted to do that, I’m all ears. 🙂

      1. Great idea! I know I want a blanket for myself, and have made things out of rice and flax seen in the past, Eye masks, heated shoulder pads, but I’d like to find something that is less likely to invite a hungry caterpillar to lunch. So excited to see the store. I was looking last night and I know I will be ordering a ring!

  6. Once again Cynthia, your creativity, go getter attitude, and wisdom have caused something beautiful! I love your inspirational way of BEING! I was going to order my three kiddos chewy jewellery last week, so now I will order them off of your site! I am excited to see where this goes but I also love what it already IS.:) YAY:)

  7. Congratulations! I think that you have shared a beautiful and authentic manifestation of “the American Dream”! Our country/society needs more authenticity, more activity that stems from this orientation of “providing what people need” with their best interests in mind, and to bring a little joy and comfort!

    On a practical/health friendly note, take care that the plastics, dyes and other materials used in your products are safe, chemical wise, especially if they will be chewed.

    I have an idea for next August’s project! Create a franchisable model for a talent-agency/think tank/consulting/business incubator that is run exclusively by people on the spectrum and creates an autism-friendly way to harness the brilliance/creativity/tenacity of autistic individuals in a way that pays well, respects and recognizes their potential as contributors, and revitalizes and harnesses the power of their authenticity in action. This could be a Co-op, a head-hunting firm, a stand-alone company that just operates on an autism-centered model.

    The next step (the following August!), create a blueprint for the autism friendly home: a magazine & affordable products that show people how to overhaul their existing uncomfortable spaces and lifestyle into one that suits the individual’s/family’s sense of routine, need for calm, need for personal space, etc.. I sure wish I could do this chez moi and not feel so overwhelmed!

    Following summer, create an Autism focused version of the “Y” (or a corollary to the status quo), with lots of water activities (sans pool echo), sensory soothing offerings, a gathering place for the autistic community, and also an opportunity for the Autistic community and the NT to better understand one another, but on the Autistic community’s terms.

    Following August, develop an accrediting standard that sets real standards for authenticity/fairness/quality for products, services, etc. marketed to people on the spectrum. The “autism demographic” is currently underserved, but when the tide eventually changes (which is likely soon, given the numbers of new diagnoses), the status quo operators/business developers will recognize the potential vulnerability of our demographic and we will want to anticipate and prepare for an autism-consumer “Good Housekeeping stamp of approval” kind of advocacy agency. (I can hear my brother the economist say, there will be crooks in every business sector, even autistic-business people serving other autistic people can be crooks; thus, the call for altruistic autistic people, like those of us reading this blog, to recognize the opportunities to profit/protect/serve at this juncture in social history. (I’ve been wanting to say this, but no one where I live seems interested!)

    Apologies for the long post!

    1. I like the idea of providing what people need in a way that brings comfort and is joyful. What a great way to put it.

      What you mentioned about safety is really important. All of the chewing products have been tested to meet FDA and European Union standards for being safe to chew. I know that this will be a concern for many people so I wrote up a safety page on the website that provides a lot more details about the materials. I’ve also been very careful to keep in mind the various sensory sensitivities that we experience and to make notes on the product pages of any items that might trigger sensory sensitivities or common skin allergies.

      All of your ideas for new projects are great. I especially liked the idea for an autistic version of the Y. Another project that we’ve talked about here that I would really like to do someday is a kind of help bank for autistic people. I think it would be fairly easy to set up but very time-consuming to administer. Maybe someday.

    2. I love the idea of “autism friendly home”, as this is an ongoing project of ours, to make our home as friendly to both of our needs as possible.

      There is a job agency catering to autistic people in Germany, but they only do it for IT. (Stereotyping, much?) It would especially awesome if there could be an agency that helps people who want to work from home find a job that meets their needs – and also does some of the communication. “We have a client interested in the position who is not up for a live job interview, chat or otherwise, but could we arrange it you send a catalogue of questions and he answers them?” for example.
      (Ian and I just had chat interviews and were useless – EF-wise – for the rest of the day. And we could stim during the interview, and angrily mutter at our monitors, as it was all a chat, and it was still very exhausting coming up with all the answers on the spot)

      I used to say I want to become a “Consulting Creative”, because I love getting new kinds of problems and looking at them from a million angles.

    3. Mary Elizabeth, Awesomeness! I loved your post! I’ve had some of the same thoughts myself. How do I as an Aspie (meeting with doctor for first appointment Saturday – so grateful!) use what I have for a background and life experience to help others, know that I know so much more about me. I’ve been making notes to myself over the past few weeks since realizing that I for sure see myself on the spectrum. I’ve been using the Job Map that I found in one of the books I have been reading – as a template to look at my areas of intense focus – what I feel best doing – and how I can give back with these talents in light of what I now know about myself. I feel so inspired by what is coming out of it. Your post reminds me of all that possibility. I want to help!!! My background is in health and wellness and as a HeartMath Coach.

      I know there are some companies out there (tech related) that are hiring people on the spectrum but its not employee owned, and I have also heard of a mom starting a company in New York reselling American Girl Dolls. The women who started the companies daughter is on the spectrum and the store helps to train high school students in life skills. I don’t know of any outright franchises that are run the way that you suggest. That would be awesome! I’m onboard for a magazine too!

  8. I’ve been having ideas all afternoon since reading this. Would you be interested in stuff made by someone overseas or is it only practical for you to use sources within the US?

    1. I would definitely be interested. If it’s small items the shipping shouldn’t be a problem. If it’s larger items, that might require some more creativity to make work. You could drop me an email and we can talk about your ideas more to see what might work. I’m really interested in supporting artistic artists and crafters!

  9. How the hell am I supposed to save up for my driver’s license when I want to buy up half the shop? 😉
    Given how it’s going (Don’t know if you still read our blog) I sure could use some more stuff for my fidget toy drawer.
    Love the concept, too. Though a part of me is worried about the exclusivity.

    There are at least three things I want right away.

    And there I was wanting to say something about how the Blog should feature the Stimming checklist just to find it already does =)

    (Which reminds me that they are still waiting for a post from me. Back to work.)

    1. Your driver’s license should come first! 🙂 Sadly I read almost nothing these days but would love to hear the short version here if you want to share. I feel like a terrible person saying that but I’m also really bad at fibbing.

      The Stimming checklist was one of the first things I thought of to add. It’s such a cool website.

      I’m not sure what you mean about exclusivity? I need everything spelled out these days . . . can you be more specific? I’m worried that you’re worried.

      1. I’ll find a happy middle ground between saving and having fun. Right now, given what needs happening, a driver’s license is far off anyway.

        Basically, it turned out my GP had medically neglected me for most of my life, I will need to sue for everything that needs to go on my handicapped pass because my objection was rejected (and it’s obvious from the letter that the doctor’s report had not even been carefully read), and a lot of stuff is happening. Ian just had his diagnosis (checked with him if I’m allowed to put that in a comment, he’s okay with it) and … a lot of stuff is happening, really, some good, some bad, all emotionally exhausted. “I don’t have the spoons for this shit” must be the most-uttered sentence in this household right now.

        The thing is … okay, getting a bit philosophical here.
        We want equality, in the end. At the moment that is – looking at our society – not completely possible without revolutionizing a lot of societal constructs, there’s a lot of work to do to make it happen, so I, in general, am in favor of anything that gives us more opportunities. But then I am wondering if favoring the minority and excluding the majority (as in only having autistic people work on this project) is doing the minority any favors in the long run or if it is a step in the wrong direction. (Though I have no idea what the right direction is.) While at this point this is “balancing it out” by favoring people who would normally be … what is the opposite of favored? … I am wondering if there might be a better way to really actually promote equality instead of just making a few spaces where the normally not-favored people are favored, because I’m afraid that’ll lead to stagnancy in the equality movement, because “there are places where you are favored, go there and don’t trouble us with your need for accomodation” might happen, or – just as bad – it might get to the point where at certain spots, neurotypical people are getting discriminated against (or at least feel that way. I mean, we have seen how some equality movements can turn sour and turn into the discrimation of the previously favored party.)

        In the end, I think it’s awesome you are providing opportunities for autistic people.

        1. It sounds like you have a lot going on right now. I hope things settle down a bit for you soon and you can enjoy the really good parts. Dealing with the red tape and bureaucracy can be so stressful and exhausting. Sending you spoons and strength.

          Ah, I see what you mean about the exclusivity. For me, this approach is about celebrating autistic artists and crafters and other creative people. I see a lot of great ideas floating around and and I get so excited about them and want to support them in some way. I’m hoping that Stimtastic will become a way of doing that. It’s not meant to be exclusive so much as maybe selective?

          1. Some more spoons sound awesome, thank you =)

            I get where you’re coming from (and am glad you understand) where I am coming from. But what if selectivity becomes elitist at some point?

      2. Too bad I won’t be able to take advantage of the promo – have to wait a few days until we can use the credit card again. New one, and now neither the old one nor the new one are valid for some stupid reason. *sigh* But I’ll order soon. I actually narrowed it down to little under a fifth of the shop! (Yes, I did the math :-P)

        Any specific reason you don’t offer Paypal as a payment option?

        1. 😦

          The shopping cart software that I’m using doesn’t support PayPal for some reason. I do have a PayPal account and can accept payments that way, but we’d have to do it over email or through the contact form on the website. I put instructions in the FAQ, but I need to find a way to make this more obvious because you are the 2nd person that has asked about it.

            1. Sounds good. I will probably reply in the morning. I’m beyond tired and am trying to be good about not pushing myself too hard. 🙂 But you will definitely hear from me first thing in the morning at worst.

          1. I have to say that I actually prefer not to use Paypal and to just have the credit card details option. Mainly because I get so many dodgy ‘pretending to be from Paypal’ emails these days that it doesn’t feel safe.

            1. Totally understand – I’ve heard some Paypal horror stories. I use it for specific purposes. I know that some people like it because you can link it to a bank account and don’t need a credit card, which can be hard to obtain.

  10. Though there is one problem – the document for ring size is a pain to print on a European printer, because of the format. Luckily I only NEEDED the upper half (had a ring on hand), so it did good enough

    1. Oh dear, that”s because we’ve set it up as 8.5 x 11 inches, right? Can you give me the dimensions for standard European printing? I could make a second version to work on non-US printers or perhaps figure a way to make it work on both.

  11. Very pretty logo and website
    – and please can you not accept the previous comment as WordPress decided to ignore my anonymity and post under my real id!

  12. I really have enjoyed reading your thoughts – they are so relatable, and helpful, I really, really hope you can keep going, even if it’s just every now and then. I am very interested in this book – what’s the title? I’ll have to look into it.

    1. I’m determined to keep blogging as often as I’m able. I miss it so much when I’m not writing. The ideas just keep coming, too, whether I’m able to get them down or not. My idea file is bursting at the seams.

      The book is “Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate – A User Guide to an Asperger Life” – there’s a link on the sidebar. 🙂

  13. Cool idea for things to sell if you could find them – spoons! Seriously, if you could find some nice little spoons (teaspoons or those dinky little ones that I’ve always fancied but never bought) made by a suitable person they’d be so great. For days when you, like me right now, have lots of spoons and want to go ‘I have spoons, look at my spoons’ (I’m slightly mad) or days when you don’t and then you can look at your spoons and remember that we all have cutlery shortages sometimes and it’ll pass (when I put the dishwasher on if I don’t forget again). Source some spoons!! Nice fancy ones. Excellent for presents (for self and others!)

    1. Now you’re tempting me … I do have an engraver here. I have worked on metal with it before, though it’s meant for glass. (I just can’t use the same tip both for metal and glass, and would have to re-get this more often.) I am really kind of tempted to play around with fun spoons now – those really small teaspoons. Maybe even for a keychain (though I’m not sure I could do the holes with my engraver, I’d have to find out), because since I read this I have been giggling about the idea of the spoon on a keychain for the spare key that you need to take because you can’t find your normal one 😉

        1. Not sure if I have the fine motor skills to actually make them pretty, but I’ll definitely play around with it (and send you one for giving me the idea 😉 )

            1. I see one problem with this – I don’t know if there’s some kind of license on the spoon thing. I have seen some people do awesome stuff on etsy with the spoon theory that only have a disclaimer, so we’d probably be good with a link to “But you don’t look sick”, but I’d want to do some research to be sure.

              But I am bursting with ideas – “Spare Spoon”-Spoons, “Spooning makes Spoons”-sets for the autistic (or otherwise Spoonie – I have found “Spoonie” is the official term for someone identifying with the theory) couple -maybe even specific spoons, like one’s that say “Executive Function”, smallish spoons for keychains (Ian already has ideas on how to get the holes done best), pocket-keeping … I’d go with teaspoons or even smaller ones. Would need to find a good supplier, but I do have access to a shop that specializes in what gastronomers need, so that would probably be doable …

              1. Why is nothing ever easy?! There are so many rules that we have to obey 🙂
                I love the ‘spare spoon’ spoons. And the idea of specific spoons like executive function. And definitely the idea of a keychain spoon! I like the little spoons smaller than teaspoons best. I’m getting excited just at the thought of it!!

                1. I made a first try! It isn’t pretty yet, for now I wanted to work out the logistics, but I kinda like it =)
                  If you tell me how to reach you, I’ll send you a picture.

  14. For example, I saw someone on Tumblr post about how they’d like to create cute, stylish weighted vests or jackets for autistic adults.

    I saw that post and I instantly loved the idea… I’ve looked at weighted vests, I would like something like that (and a weighted blanket, but they are prohibitively expensive)… That’s very much me, I’m very tactile and find comfortable weight sensations incredible calming, I think it can help me with sensory issues and anxiety and stress. However, the ones I saw were all for kids, and even the largest sizes (for boys) would fit me, I wouldn’t want to wear them… They looked too clumsy and “needy”.

    I even think that “cute, stylish weighted vests or jackets” may appeal to a wider audience. Weight & pressure things are generally calming and anxiety-soothing, it is not exclusively and autism-thing (e.g. think of the thunder-shirts for dogs). Hypersensitivity is not exclusively an autism thing either, these kind of products may also be useful for HSPs and of course people who have SPD without autism, plus perhaps some NTs who suffer from generalised anxiety, are hyper-vigilant et.c.

    I love the infinite ring:-)

    Where are you sourcing the products?

    I like these: Chewlery Bracelets (link to “Sensory Tools”… Australia, but they are in the US too). I have a clear one, it is my favourite stress relief thing as far as chewing & fidgeting goes, and it looks fairly discrete albeit also slightly childish. It has also proven surprisingly resilient, I have been unable to destroy it so far.

    I also have a tangle, but it is useless to me because it falls apart when I use it. Not adult grade:-(

    and I have a one of these (link to your shop). Except mine is teardrop-shaped instead of round. I use it when I do accounting-like tasks, to control my bad frustration-habits of teeth grinding and biting in my hand (I hate accounting!). It helps a bit with that, but apart from that I don’t really like the sensation or taste in my mouth (it is also food-grade silicone and supposedly tasteless and odourless, but I can still smell & taste it).

    I’m looking forward to see a wide selection of sensory tools evolve over time (especially weighted clothes and blankets). I can’t emphasise enough how great an idea this is. I also love the website style… it is very neat, stylish, orderly without all sorts of unnecessary ads and other information overload crammed in. Very well done!

    1. I agree with the bit about the website style – it does look nice and clean and tidy and organised. It doesn’t seem to use even the hint of a spoon navigating it unlike some websites!

      1. Heh I had to think about the spoon thing until I got what you meant:-) You are right. It is a great metaphor that over-cluttered flashy websites use up “spoons”.

    2. Yes, I was really taken by the weighted vest idea when I saw it too. I hope that the person who proposed it ends up making them because I think it will be really successful.

      Glad you like the website. I was going for something calm, with plenty of white space (breathing room). The products are coming from all over – initially I spent weeks tracking down various companies and testing out things (I now have a big bin of stim toys, including a bunch of discards that didn’t appeal to me or had sensory or other flaws).

      The silicone should be tasteless and odorless, but I got some samples (in the discard pile!) that were not. It’s also possible that you’re really sensitive to the taste/odor and so you pick up on it.

      The tangles aren’t my favorite either. I love the Klixx thing and have one my desk (much to my husband’s dismay – the noise gets on his nerves after a while). It’s really hard to yank apart, much harder than the tangle, but still possible. But the clicking . . . it’s in my hands every time I stop doing something to think. 🙂

      1. I was going for something calm, with plenty of white space (breathing room).

        That is definitely a success…

        Re. weighted products, came to think: it is unlikely I will buy any, because the shipping cost to Australia would be insane:-( Probably that would be the case for a lot of people outside of the US.

        1. I know, the international shipping cost is so problematic for weighted items. I was trying to think of a solution to that this morning and thought maybe placing a zipper or 2 in the item so that the receiver could fill it themselves might work.

          1. Doesn’t the “The first couple of ounces are the priciest” apply here?
            Maybe sending a bulk order internationally and having someone there distribute it further might actually reduce the overall cost for everybody involved? One would have to do a bit of math to see if that is possible, but I would volunteer for Europe if it turns out to be a viable option.

          2. I had an idea about this, may or may not be appropriate or practical. Could someone in Europe/Australia/Asia etc. who makes weighted blankets advertise through your site but ship from their location to people nearby? I know that’s not your current setup but maybe you could have a directory for things you can’t send internationally.

          3. Yes, something like that…. Where the weights are some standard items that can be purchased locally in any country.

            Another possibility could be to commission someone local who has the equipment & skills to make the weighted products, and supply to them the recipes plus materials / or premade product minus weights. Their job would then be to complete the product / supply and integrate the weights, and then either deliver the product or have the customer to pick it up from their place or shop.

            Quality control would be slightly less simple of course.

            1. Yes, that’s true. Most weighted blankets are filled with some form of plastic pellets that I assume must be widely available in many countries. It seems like there would be a lot of logistical issues with any scheme involving international shipping or distribution of such heavy items. *sigh*

  15. Another thing I like about it is the fact that you automatically include a tracking reference with the shipping details – it’s so annoying when companies don’t and I like to know when to expect my parcel to turn up so I’m not with the dog 🙂

  16. Wow, this is amazing! The website looks great and the products look really fun. I especially liked the brick-markers and the ring (with infinity symbol, which makes it even better because I am polyamureos ^_^).
    I was so exited to discover that you ship internationally. I will have to think about buying something… May be after I will finish my project I will treat myself.

    Good luck with the new business. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the good wishes and the kind words. I’ve been surprised at how many international orders there have been so far. It’s exciting to be sending things off all over the world. 🙂

      I really like the infinity symbol ring too. It has so many potential meanings.

      1. Oh, i checked the shipping fees and found out that the shipping costs more then the product… So I may not buy from you after all. :-/
        Shipping from the USA tend to be so expensive 😦
        May be I will ask some friends if they will want to order stuff with me.

        BTW, I have an artists eraser that is a bit like the stimming potty. So I can stim while drawing. 🙂

        1. Ah, I know what you mean. I chose the most inexpensive mailing options available (regular air mail) and still it can be prohibitively expensive to ship outside internationally. 😦 (and still somehow our postal service is always on the verge of bankruptcy) It would definitely cut down the cost overall if you got together with some folks and made a group order, because the biggest cost is literally the first couple of ounces.

          I think I know the kind of eraser you mean. It’s like a soft lump, right? I love good erasers, BTW. Yeah, I’m weird.

  17. Do you package in bubble wrap for an extra little stimming treat?- although that’s maybe not very eco friendly I suppose …

    1. There are key chains with “bubble wrap” – about seven bubbles, usually – which feel like you’re popping bubble wrap, but you can pop it how often you want. I only know of a German shop, where it’s about 13 dollars (so sleepy, so not doing the actual currency conversion right now), it makes popping sounds, and every 200 plops it makes a “Yeah!” sound. You can’t pop one again until you’ve popped a different one first. (This way, you can do patterns!)

        1. I shall try to restrain myself.

          The other day I got a package with bubble wrap that isn’t poppable. Can you imagine? It was like wide channels of air and pressing on a “bubble” just redistributed the air. Then I tried to cut it smaller to use it for something else and it deflated completely. Who would invent such a useless thing?

  18. This is an awesome idea. I’m going to share it with my mum who has been thinking of setting up a resource list. It might be difficult for me to buy from you regularly as I live in England but I will certainly give you priority. (also I noticed a couple of probable spelling mistakes – the highlighter blocks have the word market at the end of the paragraph rather than marker, and the news section doesn’t have an s on the menu. 🙂

    1. Thank you – especially for pointing out the typos. I’ve fixed them.

      Oh! I have a proposal for you. Would you be interested in proofreading the website in exchange for whatever amount of products seems like a fair trade? I’m sure there are other errors that I have caught. A lot of the text is cut and pasted repetition, so it would be less actual proofing that it appears at first sight, I think. Let me know if you’re interested. 🙂

  19. So exciting and SUCH a good and much needed idea!!
    I saw a link to the shop on the side of your blog before I realized it was your creation and was immediately thinking ‘oooh chewable jewelry sounds great I must look at this’ and then I continued reading your post and realized haha!
    Good luck with it, its a fantastic idea for a shop and I hope you get what you want out of it along with the rest of the community!

    1. Oh, that’s funny. 🙂 I was wondering if people would get that there was a connection. I suppose some readers will think that I’ve started taking ads . . .

      Thank you for the good wishes!

    1. Wearing a tangle as a bracelet is a really cool idea. I’m hoping that when I start adding posts about the stim toys to the blog at Stimtastic that people share cool ideas like that.

      I will definitely add a link to your post to the stimming blog. Should I credit you as Stimmycat?

  20. I really like the jewellery, and I don’t wear jewellery really – often because I can’t stop fidgeting with it and apparently I’m not supposed to do that 😃

    Sorry to bleat about my own issues here but head’s in a bit of a tizzy… Went to ob-gyn today about my hormonal condition and just for a check up. It’s a condition I was just sort of forced to accept was part of my life and something whose cause I’d never know. Health-wise it has caused me some concerns but in light of self-diagnosing as ASD it has hardly mattered much. Then, doctor drops a bombshell: she wants me to go for genetic testing to see if I have Turner’s Syndrome. The symptoms and traits are very wide ranging but she thinks I have enough to warrant a test. I read into it and some of the traits overlap with key ASD traits I exhibit: nonverbal learning disabilities, social interaction issues.

    I am just feeling floored right now. I was not expecting this at all. I feel like every time I get a grasp on who I am, the picture on the puzzle box changes again. Honestly, even if I have this syndrome, I don’t know that it changes much with regard to my likely ASD traits. But that’d be something wouldn’t it? TS and ASD. Some days I don’t know whether to give myself a medal just for making it this far on such ‘wonky’ materials (and with no instructions for thirty-two years!) or break down completely because I’m obviously so broken.

    I’m likely to be getting too far ahead of myself here – I haven’t even scheduled the test, have to check out health insurance and cost yet – but I just feel such a strange mix of exhilarated and exhausted. I’m terrified I’m staring down the barrel of another dead end (sorry for mixed metaphors) with regards to my hormonal condition, but at the same time I’m scared about where this potential diagnosis could lead me, and what it might mean for a future ASD diagnosis.

    Okay, I’m done. Sorry for the hijacking. I needed to vent. And I love your idea by the way. I wish you all the best with Stimtastic and the new speech recognition software.

    1. Oh gosh, that’s quite a bombshell. I googled Turner Syndrome and it looks very complex but it seems like there is a test that can definitively tell you yes or no? The overlap with ASD is interesting. But it looks like there are enough discrete traits that a knowledgeable psychologist would be able to diagnose ASD based on the traits that the 2 don’t share in common.

      Good luck with the testing. I hope your insurance covers it and that it results in an answer that is helpful rather than adding to the confusion. As someone who has been through the testing gauntlet for the last 6 months and ended up with no definitive answers, I can really sympathize with how you are feeling.

      1. Yeah, ditto this. Waiting for tests and results is tough, and must be even more so when you think you’ve reached an end point on something and then find that you might not have after all. I was worried that my assessment for ASD was going to be a no because of the fact that I’d be left back at the start again so I can sympathise. Fingers crossed for you…

        1. Thank you to both of you for your support and kind words. When you say you understand and sympathise with what I’m going through, I know that you really do, that I don’t have to explain myself better. We’re all battle-weary/battle-hardened here.

          I felt a lot better just writing that last night. I’ve decided I’ll opt for giving myself the medal rather than completely breaking down 😄 I also agree that the two conditions, while having some very interesting overlap, are separate enough to warrant separate consideration. It will be nice to get tested for a condition, for once, that has a yes or no result. The trick will be if it’s a yes to TS to figure out what illnesses are manifesting in me. I’m also thrilled that a doctor finally cares enough not to just accept my symptoms as interesting mysteries and actually wants to get to the bottom of them. At the same time, why has it taken me sixteen years and five thousand miles to find someone like that?

          I’ve also decided to get one of the Stimtastic pieces of jewellery. I’m going back to my fidgeting ways. It’s a lot better then nail biting. Now just to choose…

          By the way, what speech recognition do you use Cynthia, if you don’t mind me asking. I’ve been considering purchasing some but would love a recommendation to start the search.

          1. I meant to say that you should award yourself a medal. A large shiny one. As a wise woman (Cynthia actually! In more or less these words – I may have paraphrased slightly) once said – ‘sometimes just not quitting is a victory’. I have that on a card on my fridge.I think it applies very well to Aspie lives.
            You are lucky to have found a decent doctor. They seem few and far between these days.
            There’s nothing wrong with fidgetting. Think of it as burning calories if that helps 🙂 Or assisting in the flow of air around the planet… Fully-utilising your body parts perhaps? Ensuring that certain muscles don’t atrophy? (I love justifying things!)

          2. I’m glad you’re feeling better after getting your thoughts out. That can be a huge relief and a great first step toward moving into the more practical aspects of the “how do I actually go about dealing with this?” phase of a big shock.

            There’s nothing wrong with fidgeting! 🙂

            I’m using Dragon Naturally Speaking and I got version 12 because it’s 1/3 of the price of the latest version, comes with a headset included in the box and apparently is nearly identical to version 13. It’s very powerful and now that I’ve learned some key commands and it’s learned more about my speech patterns, I’m really loving it. I feel like I’ve gained an extra few spoons on most days.

  21. Oh yay, it’s arrived!!! All the way to the UK (and delivered by my postman so not even the hassle of a courier!). Delighted to report that there was nothing extra to pay 🙂
    I’ve got my bike chain bracelet on and I love it!!! It’s a really comforting feeling – I wasn’t anticipating it would feel so good. I went for the smaller size and it’s fairly close fitting. I have relatively narrow wrists (the only part of me alas) so anyone with bigger wrists might want to measure first. That didn’t occur to me till now! But it sits nicely just where it should and I can see it being a regular thing just because it’s so, well comfortable and comforting. It’s like having a hug on your wrist!
    I’ve also got a Colour in Motion which is cool (I’m such a child but when the bubbles slow down it’s quite restful) and I went with a dog pendant fidget necklace (cos I love dogs), and a rainbow chewable chunky necklace just because I like the colours and thought it might stop me grinding my teeth when I’m reading.
    And I got my free gift so thank you – I won’t say what it was just in case I’m not supposed to. But I think it will (inadvertently) be a useful thing to stim with at the dentist because it feels nice in my hand too 🙂
    And I got stickers 🙂 They are well cool. I lurve the logo. It’s clean, fresh and colourful all at the same time. And it involves stimming which makes me happy.
    Ooooo forgot to say I got a flappy hands are happy hands fidget as well – because one of my big stims is flapping. It’s currently hanging on my computer screen.
    I’d better get back to work now but I’m happy and wanted to share 🙂

    1. I’m green with envy! No, just impatiently awaiting my order =)
      I had been considering the bike chain bracelet, but was a bit worried it would be … ouchie, basically? As in distribute the pressure wrong and have scratchy and pokey bits. But that doesn’t seem to be the case?
      Oh, I wish I could just try one one to see if it works for me.

      1. I don’t find it ouchie or scratchy, just heavy and reassuring. That’s not to say everyone will be the same though. It’s thrown me off now though – I’ve just put it on my right wrist (which appears to be marginally fatter!) and it feels very odd. Obviously my left side needs the comfort more. Or maybe I’d got used to the added weight on t’other side… And yet putting it back on the left feels complete again. Like it belongs there.

        If you have a bike you could try taking the chain off and wrapping it round your wrist a couple of times 🙂

        It’s been very quick arriving – normally things from the US seem to take forever. That’s 6 days including the day I placed the order, today and a weekend. And the UK postal system which can be a tad unpredictable when it fancies.

      2. I was really concerned about it being scratchy or bitey but the finish is very smooth and for some reason the jointed parts don’t seem to grab at my skin or the little hairs on the top of my arm, which is something that would drive me bonkers in a bracelet. 🙂

    2. That’s great that there were no additional costs! I’m sure I will place an order soon, it’s impossible to find most of those things more locally.

      I really want the dog necklace, but like the robot too. Can’t decide!

    3. Oh, that was relatively fast for delivery to the UK. I’m glad everything arrived safely and there were no customs charges. That’s good to know.

      I had the same reaction to the bike chain bracelet. There’s something about the weight that is very comforting. What you said about it being like a hug for your wrist is the perfect description. I was expecting that it would pinch the little hairs on my arms (which are quite hairy) but was pleasantly surprised to discover that it doesn’t at all. I’m actually wearing it right now. 🙂 The only thing I found is that sometimes the weight can start to feel like a bit too much after a couple of hours and I need to take it off.

      Would you mind if I used part of what you said on the website as a kind of “buyer feedback”. It would be especially helpful for people to see your suggestion about measuring their wrist before ordering.

      And now that you’ve mentioned the stickers, I hope that I remembered to include some in everyone’s orders. 🙂

      1. Got mine on still too 🙂 Have taken it off a couple of times for a bit then missed it and put it back on. Doing & undoing it is a bit fiddly one-handed because I’m lousy at that (crap with buttoning cuffs too!) but sitting down and resting it on the desk makes that miles easier. That’s probably partly why I don’t wear a watch anymore!
        Yes, feel free to quote me 🙂
        I can’t decide where to stick my stickers yet. You should get some fridge magnets done too 🙂
        And I keep playing with my Colour in Motion – it’s good for distraction when you need to mentally check out for a minute or so.
        Money well spent 🙂

        1. Thanks, I added it as a little note on that page. 🙂

          It’s taken me a while to master the putting on action. I think the first time I took me a few minutes to work out how to do it one-handed.

          Magnets are a great idea. I need to win the lottery. 😀 I have the stickers all over everything. Just on my desk there’s on on my desk light and one on my external drive and one on a notebook.

    4. Another aha moment. Thanks Liz. I just realized in reading your post why I like some of my bracelets, and why some of them I can wear for a bit and then the loose fit of them banging about my wrist bugs me. The ones I like are elastic based and sit firmly on my wrist in one place. They do indeed feel like a hug. I had not thought of it that way before till I read your post. Thank you!

  22. Looking at the products on the website, and reading positive stimming stories has brought up a memory from mid childhood. For a while silly putty was very popular (like the thinking putty but in an egg shaped container) and I had some. I loved it and played with it constantly squidging and squeezing and stretching and popping it. I found it very pleasing and relaxing. One day in primary school at the end of break the teacher said to put it away, I was sqishing it back into a ball to put in the case when the teacher took it and threw it in the bin. At the time I was really angry because I had been putting it away as instructed, and also really sad because it got covered in pencil shavings so was ruined. I never got another one.

    Looking back I feel sad for me but as though it was another person. She tried to do the right thing but probably didn’t process the instruction fast enough, and because of poor fine motor skills was too slow to do it. And then lost her favourite and most reassuring object that could be taken anywhere. This was another unintended message of “you don’t fit” and “things you do are unacceptable”.

    I’m sure the teacher wasn’t being mean, and had allowed enough time for other children to react. I don’t blame him. It’s one of those things where childhood diagnosis may have helped. It’s also one of the reasons I find this project so positive and exciting and wonderful and affirming.

    1. Oh, that’s such a sad story. I feel really bad for childhood you. As a kid I really love silly putty and I know what you mean about trying to press it back in the egg just right before closing it. 😦

  23. Does the infinity symbol symbolise anything that has specific relation to autism? Why? (what specifically does it represent). I’m asking because I’ve now seen it on another autism-related product too (not in your shop), and it occurred to me that it may be used as some sort of autism-tribe-symbol that I was unaware of. (I got the ring, and I like it! I also like the symbolism: infinity. It reminds of Space, time, continuity … However any symbolism beyond that went over my head prior to purchase).

    1. Glad you like the ring!

      I’ve seen it used often in relation to autism too, but I don’t know how or why that originated. Perhaps it’s an alternative concept to the linear spectrum? A symbol of the infinite types of variation in autistic people? I wish I had a clear answer. I just know that I really like it too and it’s a symbol that’s always appealed to me. Just the concept of infinity itself is enjoyable to think about.

      1. **Google search**

        According to Wikipedia (and other websites… but they look like they have the info from Wikipedia), the use of a rainbow-coloured infinity symbol as a symbol of autism was initiated by an organisation called Aspies For Freedom (AFF) in June 2004.

        The usage of the infinity symbol as a representation of autism, started by Aspies For Freedom in June 2004, was a reaction to the negative connotations associated with the jigsaw symbol commonly used by parents to represent autism. The jigsaw symbol is seen by much of the autistic community as an insulting reference to the fact that autistics can appear puzzling, in need of “fitting in” with society, or as having “a bit missing”.

        They use it as their logo…

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