Let’s talk sensory issues. If you know anything about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you know that most who have ASD have sensory issues. And the range of sensory issues is unimaginable. As a teacher, as soon as I think I have seen it all when it comes to sensory issues, I get a student who has a sensory issue that shocks me. Courtney’s sensory issues are pretty common. Loud noises can bother her, needs to be constantly moving, and the list goes on. She has always had this thing with rubbing things one her lips. She has done this since a baby. I think my mom was one of the first one’s to notice that she had to rub food on her lips before eating it. She explores toys by rubbing them on her lips. As much as she loved rubbing things on her lips, she barely ever put things in her mouth. I probably had too much trust in this behavior, but I never worried about small toys being out with her. It was very eye opening with Alyssa once she started putting things in her mouth. Toys that I never had to hide, needed to be hidden. Alyssa got through that phase and now seems to know what things she can and can not put in her mouth. But the toys are being hidden again. This time, for Courtney. She has suddenly become EXTREMELY oral. Everything, and I mean everything is going in her mouth. I caught her chewing on an emery board the other day! An emery board! I cringe just thinking about it!
So how do you address a sensory issue such as needing to put everything in the mouth? One way is to find a way to meet whatever craving they are seeking more appropriately. So in Courtney’s case, replacing the toys, paper, emery boards with things that are more appropriate to put in the mouth. Things such as food. But wait…she’s extremely picky about the foods she puts in her mouth. Chew toys also help. We have brought out all the old teething rings out and bought all different types of chew toys. The coolest thing happened tonight. We were playing in the family room and Courtney suddenly ran to the fridge. Typically she opens up the fridge which means she wants milk. This time she opened up the freezer. She then left the freezer with one of her teething rings. I was so excited to see her search out what she needed instead of me handing her the items. I was so excited! It’s the little things!
Sensory processing fascinates me. What is making Courtney need to put things in her mouth? What makes her anxiety level sky rocket any time she hears a vacuum cleaner? What make her need to hang upside down?