Age defying grab bag.

A collection of effective techniques which ignore assumed age limits.

Added on Tuesday 06 October 15

Lego makes me smile because they write ‘age 3-99’ on many of their boxes. They have the notion that there is no age limit on enjoying Lego.

It’s a good notion :)

So with that in mind here are four technique which support the notion there’s no age limit on something which works.

1. Having a cot not a bed.

Growing up I had a raised bed built into the side of my room. It had walls on three sides and was tilted so that it was hard to fall out of. It felt safe.

I then had a few other beds, normally against a wall or with a folding side until supported living where I slept in a bed tent

Being enclosed helps me to sleep. Feeling exposed in the open does not work for me. A double bed feels very exposed and unnerving.

With this in mind about 6 years ago I asked a carpenter if he would make me a new bed. The design requirement was that I should not be able to fall out. It should be able to survive a fit or a good kick (meltdown proof!) and it needed to be possible for me to get in and out when spaced out.

The design we landed on is a cot with a drop side. It’s big and strong and made of 4" square pine and coach bolts. It’s taken a beating over the years but it is absolutely as robust as it’s ever been.

Pretty much overnight I started sleeping better. I was much happier and it became my safe space.

The only flaw my cot has is that it’s hard to lift the side now I am living alone. There are some commercial options like safe spaces which are the same idea but implemented a different way. We may try one in the future once I am more settled as they have a zip up side which will be easier to manage myself.

These things are astonishingly effective and massively reduced my lifelong issues with sleep.

2. Having a babysitter

My third technique is too source support from people with a childcare background through sites like

I have found those with a childcare background to have way more experience of autism than those working in the general ‘floating support’ market. They are much cheaper, more flexible and all around nicer.

For me, they have the ability to look at things I am doing and spot the stupid mistake (burning myself, stepping out In front of a car etc) before I do it which is invaluable.

Having a good babysitter is a life saver for me and my friends. I don’t care about the age related naming. When the babysitter visits it goes pretty much the same way as it would for a child. She does a few pragmatic things (like prompt me for routines and help with food) then she mostly watches TV and I go hide in my room and do stuff.

The effect of having someone trusted here is huge. It releases the pressure avoiding meltdowns and panic attacks.

I wish I had sorted out a babysitter way before my old support structure collapsed. It could have prevented so much bad stuff. We didn’t because I was too proud to formally ask for help.

For each advert we have posted we have had multiple replies. For the most part babysitters don’t seem to mind the age of who they are sitting for.

If, like me, you find time alone very difficult due to anxiety and it limits what you do. Consider looking at support. It’s some of the very best money I spend.

It’s an investment in myself as a few hours with the babysitter can make an entire day much easier and productive. As a bonus they can support me to develop my timetables and routines with consistent prompting.

Finally it helps my friends reducing the pressure on them too.

3. Sippy cups and plastic plates.

The clink of crockery is horrible. It’s one of the sounds which really disturb me.

So I don’t own any crockery. I have plastic bowls and plates, currently it’s all Thomas the tank engine themed because that’s what i like.

Less noise, less chance of damage and a much nicer more robust design. It works well.

I also drink mostly from sippy cups at home. (Tommee Tippee Explorer to be precise). It’s one less thing to think about and means I am less likely to break things when washing up. Why wash up glass when I don’t like drinking from it and it’s easy to break. Back when i had carpets in a rental flat is saved my deposit weekly.

I take my sippy cups with me on holiday / in the car too and no one has ever minded at centre parks or in a holiday park what sort of cup I have on the table.

4. Kids clothing

The final tip is about clothing. I am not too large and fit clothing designed for kids about 13 and up.

I find kids clothing to be much more to my liking. It is a better texture, bright colourful and fun. Its generally way cheaper too.

Some of the clothing made for teenagers In a place such as BHS is like a more fun version of the adult clothing ranges. My favourite hoody (which I wear 90% of the time when outside) is from the BHS teenager range and it has a cool geeky design which is fun while not looking out of place.

I also have John Lewis boys PJs as my main lounging around at home clothing. They are extremely comfortable, fun and super soft. i reviewed them recently


This post is a little scary to write due to the power of social norms. The techniques I have listed above won’t work for everyone but they work for me.

In my view there is a blurry line between adult and child. Some of the child like qualities of autism can be a struggle (being easily manipulated sucks) but other parts are good. (I enjoy swings way more than most people.).

The things above make me happy so I think that’s enough of a justification for sharing them. I hope they can bring others as much happiness as they give me.


Spaced Out & Smiling is about exploring the fun side of Autism, and trying to understand what it means to be Autistically Happy.

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Jamie: @JamieKnight
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