I noticed it the first time when he was four. My mom moved across the country with us, and then a few months later, needed to move back “home” when my father became sick with cancer. After she left, I found my son chewing on the vacuum cord – as I was vacuuming!
I am sure that he chewed on many things before that. Young children tend to. But it was at that time he began chewing with a vengeance. Nothing was safe, but wires, plastic, and rubber were the most common.
This lasted into his late teens. When we had our children, and were working with the Occupational Therapist, she suggested aquarium tubing. We bought him quite a bit, and he went through it all, and kept right on chewing.
My son doesn’t have as many sensory issues that go along with his Autism as I do. Not nearly as many. But he could never go down the cleaning isle in stores. He fought brushing his teeth, and showering/bathing until this past year (at the age of 19.) He never liked having water in his face, or the feeling of being wet. He most emphatically did not like getting his hands dirty. And he chewed on everything!
With a little guidance, however, he learned not to chew on cords while they were plugged in (thankfully – that could have been a disaster.) Yet even now, he still chews on pencils and things, but that at least is more accepted behaviour.
So was it the Autism that caused the issue, or was it the trauma of having his Nana move away? This may be something that is never fully answered.