10 Feb

No, I’m not talking about my sassypants 11 year old girl.  Nor am I talking about Puppy Chews-a-lot.

I’m talking a different kind of mouthyness.

Parental types – remember how when your child was an infant/toddler and they put eeeeeeverything into their mouth?  How great you were with that hook finger in fishing out items from the back of the cheek?  How you had to be careful with what you gave your infant/toddler because they might decide it’s edible?

Now imagine that phase lasting for years.

Welcome to my world.

Maura is a sensory seeker – a term I was blissfully unaware of 8 years ago (though in retrospect, I was living with it in Sean, the toddler who licked everything but the cat – and only because I stopped him as he tried to lick the cat.)  Most people who know of sensory issues, as they’re called, know of the kids who hate tags on clothes, or sticky things, who’ll scream if they get wet or the collar is funny on their shirt.

A sensory seeker is the opposite – they seek out sensory things.  Take Maura into a fabric store and she’ll go down the aisle, both arms stretched out, feeling all the fabric.  She especially likes the fleece section.  When we go to the beach, she plunks down instantly to run her fingers through the sand.  I had a box of buttons that she was enamored with. And yes, she also has been known to lick things too.

Just now, I had to ask Maura to please spit out the pieces of the Sorry game she got out.  She spat it out…then popped it right back in her mouth.  I then insisted she spit it all out…and four pieces came out of her mouth.  Yesterday she was sucking on Monopoly houses (she’s figured out where the board games are hidden.)  The day before that, Josh shouted for me. I ran into the living room to find him wiping Maura’s blue mouth out as he asked “Are ink pens non-toxic?”  (Turns out that yes, they are.)  She’d been sucking on the end of the pen.

Needless to say, bead art doesn’t happen much in this household.

As much as sensory seeking can be annoying, I will say this – given the choice between being a seeker versus being an avoider – I’ll take seeking any day.  Sure, it can be annoying, or scary, or informative (if you suck on blue tissue paper, your mouth turns blue) – but at least I can get her dressed easily, and she enjoys lots of different foods.

Yep, that’s my convoluted pep talk to self in situations like this – I find a weird positive, “well, it could be worse!” spin.  Of course, she’ll be the girl who’ll want to ride all the scary rollercoasters…and since Josh gets nauseated just looking at one, guess which lucky parent will have to join her on said roller coaster?  The one who’ll be reviewing her opinion on sensory seeking versus avoiding.




14 Responses to “Mouthyness”

  1. SaraCVT February 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Yeah, I’d swap. I have the other kind–the sensory avoider. Olivia hates button-up pants because they leave “imprints” on her skin. So all her clothes are tagless and she wears only leggings or sweatpants. No jeans. Which makes it awkward when a well-meaning relative gives her pretty clothes for her birthday or Christmas and she screams that they’re not the right kind and she hates them. Which has happened. More than once. And she’s an incredibly picky eater. She’s eternally underweight, and just last November we had a huge scare because she started losing weight to the tune of a pound a DAY. Things like “childhood leukemia” started flashing through my head. But she checked out okay, we just had to pump calories into her. So now we hide caloric things like cream cheese in what she DOES eat.

    Yeah, gimme your problems for awhile.

    • phoebz4 February 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

      I actually do have a child with clothing “preferences”. We own a lot of knock-off Under Amour and track pants. Neither of my boys will wear jeans these days. And poor Sean – can’t stand loud chewing. Maura? can’t chew quietly. So I do have glimpses of the other side, and I have nothing but sympathies for you all over there! I can’t imagine how hard food issues can be when a child’s losing weight. The whole “a child won’t starve themselves” mantra is only said by someone who has never dealth with a kid with sensory issues.

      • SaraCVT February 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

        Yeah, people who really have no clue keep telling me “Just make her sit at the table and refuse to give her anything else but what you’re having for dinner. She’ll eat.” They say it smugly, too. Sometimes I want to bash their smirking faces in, because NO, she won’t. When she came home from the hospital at five weeks, she would drink 18 ml/feeding. A normal feeding is 60 ml. At 16 months, she had a sweat chloride test (a fancy kind of feeding test) done on her at Oregon Health & Sciences University. It was only AFTER she tested negative that they told me a positive meant cystic fibrosis. If they’d told me before, I’d have had a nervous breakdown. But the point is, she’s not your average picky eater, and I can’t deal with her in the average way. And the people who imply or outright tell me that it’s the result of lenient parenting make me so mad I can’t see straight.

  2. Megs February 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    First, I want to say that I found you through your entry about the word “retarded”, and have yet to stop reading here. I have a developmentally delayed son who has several other health issues as well – and I find your stories of your sweet girl insipiring and a breath of fresh air. Now, that being said, that same son of mine has very low sensory input in his hands, feet and mouth. I find him latching on to things like the dogs brush with the sharp bristles or doing things like eating Monopoly pieces. Good luck with your little sensory seeker! Every day is an adventure!

  3. Dawn Gilson Smith February 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    I have both in my house too. I prefer seeker to avoider as well.

  4. Sunshyn February 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    I have a combo seeker/avoider with vestibular issues. We worked that out with swinging. We worked the avoidance out with shaving cream play. He likes to be squished up in a “kid sandwich in which we pile him under a beanbag chair and lie on him. Fortunately, he stopped mouthing things. But I feel your pain. If you can get occupational therapy where you are, there’s hope. If not, there’s still hope! Get your hands on “The Out-of-Sync Child” and “The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun.” That is, I mean, if you haven’t already. I also have a copy of the bible of sensory integration, “Sensory Integration and the Child,” but I confess I have yet to read it…

    • phoebz4 February 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

      well-known in the Out of Sync Child – I had it, read a bit, didn’t see anything helpful that I didn’t already know (geez, that makes me sound like a know-it-all, lol) so gave it to someone else. Maura loves big vestibular motions – swings and slides and her brother spinning her around. Loves it all. Her school (which is a special school) has a sensory room, which is cool. They also have three trampolines in their playground!

  5. Life's Unexpected Blessings February 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    I have one of those…she is almost three and I can’t turn my head for a second but I cannot imagine her anyother way. My Sophie is a super sensory seeker, she would be in heaven swinging, bouncing and mouthing if I allowed her to do it 24/7.

  6. Lori Hurley February 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    Oh Dear Lord, I have one of each and I’d take the Seeker ANY DAY!

    My 10yo daughter is driving me up a wall. She is down to 3 pairs of black leggings and that is IT. She will not wear jeans… not at all. I did get her into a pair of jeggings, but they don’t make that kind anymore (thank you, Target… NOT!) and the ones we tried on last night were too confining. The child has not worn a pair of jeans in two years. This drives me extra crazy because she wore jeans without any problem for 8 years. She’s getting worse. She won’t even wear the leggins properly. She wears them pulled down so her tummy looks like an old man’s beer gut. :sigh:

    My Seeker… yes, he destroys the house and the poor cat runs in fear… We frequently scream NO HUGS because he’s strangling his twin brother while sitting on him… but at least I can get him dressed!

  7. ntouch2cher February 11, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    I remember asking my daughter, (30), who would be constantly late mornings with her meltdowns getting dressed. “How come you seem to be able to wear anything now?” and she said, “It still drives me crazy but vanity took over. I just change once I get home from work.” So there is hope.

  8. Jessica February 11, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Since a few years I have a neurological disorder. A like for tactile stimulation has increased. I hate some stimuli though – water and dish soap is awful – but tactile balls and velvet fabrics is just amazing. Can’t describe what promotes the positive stimulation but something does. As an opposite; I can become totally overwhelmed – as in confused – with too many auditory and visual stimuli.

  9. rochelle rawlings February 11, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    hmm I seem to have both in one child. Sweat pants, no tags, etc but uses sensory stimulation to soothe anxiety. He spends hours sifting through the sand in my horse training arena. ( I know not the most sanitary but it keeps him happy) On the other hand he is very clean as he takes up to 10 baths a day depending on the anxiety level that day. Tactile sensory stimulation can be calming and exciting. Use whatever tool you find in the toolbox.

  10. lexiemom February 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    I love your positive outlook!

  11. Angel Brookins February 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    I have an avoider. She is 17 and bipolar, copes with most things fairly well, but really hates to be wet, outside of the bath. Also has a distaste for tags on clothes, leading to lots of holes in the necks of things (I was so happy when she learned to sew!).
    I wish you the best of luck with your little sensory seeker, and things truly could be worse, she could scream bloody murder everytime you have to take her out in the rain!!

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