Well, it’s official. I have the child that eats glue. Glue sticks, to be exact. Yes, special needs child is fulfilling that stupid stereotype. I have to laugh or I’m going to cry but I’m not quite ready to laugh yet. Last night she was eating blue crayons so that she could have rainbow poop. She’s been licking chalk too.
Yet it’s not PICA. PICA occurs when someone, often children, are nutrient-deficient in something that whatever they’re eating contains. With Princess #2 ‘s Asperger’s Disorder, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, she has sensory processing disorder. What she’s doing is completely sensory-seeking. She’s not doing it for nutritional needs and although her food intake is limited and she has a restricted diet, she’s healthy. She’s just as likely to try to drink Frank’s Red Hot jalapeno sauce or lemon juice or eat a bag of frozen french fries or frozen peas in order to self-stimulate. She’s a very fussy eater, mainly because of sensory problems, but because of those problems she also puts things in her mouth that don’t belong there.
She loves soap. Particularly when she’s in the shower washing her hair or body, she loves the lather. It’s the same with pumping foam hand soap. She’s done it with plants like azaleas, which are poisonous. I’ve had to call Poison Control more times than I can count. Nail polish. Toothpaste tubes. Hairspray. Make-up. Pennies. Pieces of toys. She mouths and chews objects like crazy, which can be typical with some children with Autism. Her front teeth actually wore down to the point where she couldn’t bite into firm pieces of food, and she was begging me to ask the doctor to have all four of those teeth pulled. They came out recently on their own, thank God, but I don’t know how much longer she could have gone on like that. I suspect if she doesn’t stop with her new teeth, she’ll have dentures before she’s 15 years old.
One description of this behavior is that the children are sort of stuck at the sensory-motor phase, which is when you would see babies mouthing objects, using stereotypic-nonintended ways to interface and interact with objects or rather learn about them and stimulate their sensory needs.
Unfortunately, my daughter, even though she’s 7 1/2 years old, doesn’t have the typical ability to retain and understand safety concerns and safety rules at the same time that she has the urges to satisfy her immediate sensory needs, and she doesn’t have the verbal skills to be able to tell me when she needs her sensory input to be satisfied. I have to watch for cues before her behavior goes too far, much like in the previous post about watching for cues about sensory overload. The trick from here on out is to give her a continuous sensory diet, and to teach her how to give herself a safe sensory diet when I’m not able to help her immediately as well as teaching her better impulse control. I’ve said it before, I’ll keep on saying it. She may be 7 1/2 years old, she may be going into second grade, but she’s still like a toddler in so many ways.
All of that said, she completed Summer Session today! In less eloquent terms, summer school for second grade as she was leaving first grade behind as part of her IEP (individual education plan). To make it more palatable for her we’ve been calling it Second Grade Camp. It’s been a long month. Every morning getting up to catch the bus at 7:30 and coming home at 12:30 for lunch. It’s been really hard on her, but she did really well. I’m really proud of her. Now we have a full month left of vacation and Mr His Highness is even going to take a full week off to join us in August. .