DottieStims is a TikToker who uses their platform to spread awareness about autism and how fidget toys can improve neurodivergent people’s lives. I came across their channel after seeing one of their videos discussing the health issues paper straws can pose for some people. I found this video incredibly eye opening, and reached out to them to learn more about the accessibility of straws and water bottles.
What inspired you to start your tiktok account?
There isn’t a lot of support for Autistic people across the spectrum, especially Autistic adults. I wanted to create a platform where I could share content on disability, accessibility, sensory tools and day to day Autistic life for other neurodivergent people out there. In the beginning of my journey of being diagnosed as Autistic it was the online community that helped me explore and develop my identity as a neurodivergent person. I wanted to add to the content pool that I loved, and still love, to watch today!
Why are fidget toys important?
Fidget toys provide neurodivergent people with a tool for self stimulation, or stim – as it’s often called. Stimming helps neurodivergent people to self regulate and fulfil their sensory needs. I’m a very high sensory seeker, so I need to stim regularly to feel balanced within my day to day life. Without outlets like fidget toys being readily accessible to neurodivergent people, stimming is more likely to be expressed in more harmful and destructive ways to that neurodivergent person’s body and environment. Fidget toys are an easy accommodation to improve neurodivergent people’s lives and their general wellbeing.
Despite becoming more popular over the last few years for environmental reasons, there are undeniable issues with paper straws. How has the rise in paper straws affected you and what can be done to overcome this?
Personally, I have a couple of issues with paper straws that prevent me from using them. Firstly, I’m celiac – I can’t have any gluten or it makes me very ill. From researching on whether paper straws contain gluten through different celiac official resources, the answer to whether paper straws contain gluten is maybe. Some sources say they do, some sources say they don’t – if i don’t know for sure whether I’m about to ingest gluten I can’t take that risk. From producing my own content on the issue of gluten in paper straws I’ve found that celiac people (including myself) have been ill after using a paper straw. There was even a case of a service animal alerting to gluten in a paper straw! I’m also Autistic and like other Autistic people I have comorbidities relating to that condition. I aspirate when I drink, so just not using a straw at all to avoid gluten contamination isn’t an option to me either.
Because I can’t use a paper straw some people jump to the conclusion that this means I don’t care about the environment. This is wrong, I do. Being disabled and environmental consciousness are mutually exclusive. When it comes to making environmentally conscious decisions I just need to take my disability into account so I don’t make choices that risk my health.
The way to avoid issues with the use of paper straws by disabled people is to present options and reserve placing judgement on their valid medical needs. A disabled person should be given the opportunity to make environmentally informed choices but without pressuring them to ignore their individual needs. When it comes to using a straw there is no ‘one size fits all’ for everyone. There are bamboo straws, metal straws, reusable plastic, glass, silicone and paper – it is up to a disabled individual to make the choice that suits them the best.
How did you come across onegreenbottle? What made you choose our bottles?
I actually got my first onegreenbottle in a charity shop after it was donated from a company’s (I’m presuming) press release. I’d been looking for a sturdy bottle with a straw for me to use day to day and I thought it was worth giving it a go. My first bottle really worked to accommodate my needs when it came to drinking, so when I lost my first one I instantly bought another!
What is aspirating? How do bottles with straws help prevent this?
Aspirating is essentially when you inhale food or drink instead of swallowing it. For me, I aspirate when I drink, which causes me to choke. I’ve always done it and it can be pretty scary! I accommodate the fact I aspirate by drinking using a straw because it gives me more control with the amount of drink I’m getting in one sip, and the physical action of using a straw triggers my body to swallow instead of breathe.
What can businesses be doing to ensure their products are accessible?
When it comes to businesses making accessible products the best thing to do is listen to disabled people and provide options. Disabled people are a resource to businesses. They provide first hand accounts on problems products can be adapted to solve. Disability is such a broad subject that one product will not accommodate the entire disabled population. Producing variations on the same product or policy where necessary helps to create a more accessible business approach. Non-disabled people suggesting accessible solutions to disability related issues should be encouraged. The more creative a business can get with problem solving the better! But when it comes to the final stage of a policy amendment or new product line it’s best to consult a disabled person that the change would accommodate for a first hand authentic view.
To learn more about stimming and accessibility, follow dottiestims on TikTok.