Behold, the mighty Toolbeast, my faithful companion, my sensory savior, I would be lost without it. You may look at it and think to yourself “Self, that looks an awful lot like a monster shaped pencil case.” And you would be right. Its primary purpose may have been to hold school supplies, but it’s been elevated to so much more than that.
This is my AutistiKit, also known as a Toolbeast. It comes everywhere with me because I never know when I’ll need one of its components. And need them I do. Over the past year or so I’ve done tons of field research, figuring out what I need to keep myself comfortable and meltdown-free when I’m in unpredictable situations.
My collection at this point is almost entirely sensory-based, because that’s usually what can tip me over the edge and into meltdown territory. And even if I don’t have a meltdown, sensory overload isn’t exactly comfortable, is it? I’m at a point in my life now where I can recognize pretty early on when things are starting to go bad, and by intervening early, I keep myself well balanced, which in turn, lets me do things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.
These are the essential contents of my Toolbeast, grouped by sense:
*Wipes: I don’t tolerate my hands being sticky or messy, so unscented baby wipes are key if I’m going outside, or eating.
*Thinking Putty: I keep a tiny tin of putty with me because I can push it or rip it, which helps me not to unconsciously using Self Injurious Behaviors.
*Koosh Ball: The spiky hairs are satisfying to pull at, it’s my most active tool because it can be tossed around.
*Squishy Caterpillar: This was one of my first Stim Toys, and it’s still one of my favorites. I can’t describe why it’s so good, but I’m constantly reaching for it.
*Tangle: I can use this with one hand, and in my pocket, so it’s stealthy.
*Essential Oil Roller: I have had the awesome experience of blending my own scent, which is Sandalwood based. Smell keeps me grounds more than anything else, and I like that the roller means the oil won’t get on my hands.
*Pink Starbursts: Pink Starbursts are the only ones that I like, but the strong taste is grounding, and they also provide a little blood sugar bump, which I can always use.
*Earplugs: Of all my senses, my hearing is the most sensitive, so something being too loud becomes a big problem really fast. Mine are rated up to 30 decibels, which even lets me go to concerts.
*Blue Light Glasses: These are generally made for people who spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, but they’re perfect for toning down fluorescent lights, which many stores are so fond of.
*Instant Cold Pack: I discovered these when I was in Treatment, and they are amazing. They’re shelf stable until you stomp on them, and then they get cold. Putting one on my neck or chest is like magic; they’re incredibly soothing.
*Chewy Toy: I wear chewelry whenever I leave the house, but it’s pretty soft, so I keep a heavy duty one in the Toolbeast in case I need to do some hardcore chewing.
So that’s my Toolbeast. It’s been a lifesaver, and I highly suggest that everyone give them a try. Just think of the things that help you the most, in as many sensory categories as you need, and if they’re not quite portable, if they come in a mini version, or can be easily replaced with something smaller. Pencil cases make great AutistiKits, and they come in lots of fun varieties. They’re small enough to fit in a purse or a backpack, and so easy to personalize. Why not give it a shot?