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Autism: The Child Who Ate Paste

08 Apr

Yes, I admit it. I was the child in first grade eating paste. I couldn’t help it. I really liked the taste. I know that I wasn’t trying to “get attention,” as some people think. I really did crave the stuff. Other unusual things I ate during that time included burnt toast (it always had to be black,) dirt (bad idea! Parasites and stuff – but what do six year olds know about that? I would deliberately drop my snacks in the dirt and then eat them,) and lots of salt (until it made me really sick. I haven’t been able to eat salt and vinegar chips since.)

But paste? Yes. So good! And though I would always get called out by the other kids – “teacher, Jennifer’s eating the glue again!” and didn’t like the attention, eat it I must. It took a couple of years to break the habit, and though I wouldn’t think of eating such things today, I still remember that I really did like the taste.

fireplace me

My son, on the other hand, not only never tried eating the stuff, he hated touching it as well. By the time he was five years old, he was completing his cut and paste projects with staples. He did not like getting his hands dirty! He did not like getting dirty at all, really, which is why he was completely toilet trained at 20 months. He would NOT wear a diaper!

Funny enough, though he wouldn’t touch glue, dirt, paint… without getting upset, he did like finger painting with coloured shaving cream. I guess he thought that was clean.

I have a lot of sensory issues that cause me to avoid things – sounds, smells, foods, textures… but then there are those sensations that I really do like. I love pulling the insides out of pumpkin and separating the seeds between my fingers, for instance. I always have. I like digging in the dirt, even if I get dirt under my fingernails (which I then must scrub, because that does bother me.)

When I walk past clothing or materials, I nearly always (okay, not when someone is wearing them!) reach out to touch them. It is a compulsion. If something has a nice smell, I will hold it up to my nose, and keep breathing it in.

Though I don’t like crowds, or feeling pinned down, I really liked it when the other kids used to pile cushions on me, and sit on top of me. I could have stayed under there forever! I also liked it when (something that was acceptable in the 80’s and early 90’s) we would pile something like 8 children into the back of the car, and we would sit three on top of each other, squished into a seat built for 3.

And I love – and I mean really love – small spaces. As a child I was at my most comfortable when hiding in a closet, or on a shelf. When I was in cadets, we did a “confidence course” at camp, and at one part, we had to dig ourselves into this small tunnel under the sand. I could have fallen asleep, when all the other girls were nearly in tears. Even when I was working, there was a small storage closet where I would sit to take my breaks. This is probably the reason I am so interested in tiny houses.

I don’t like it when someone unexpectedly touches me, or sits too close – but I do like the feeling of rubbing the bottom of my feet on the stairs, pulling massage beads across my back, and even having my hair played with (as people used to do often when I was a child.)

And though most foods made me gag as a child (and still do) to the point where I would often avoid eating anything but pureed fruits and pablum, I was also the child who ate paste.

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