This video shows our attempts at feeding my 10 month old, before we knew about his Sensory Processing issues……. before Autism was even a notion.
It’s SO HARD for me to watch this.
We’re laughing and thought he was just being a silly baby. We heard all babies make “yucky” faces at food. They spit it out, they try to push it away, but eventually they will just eat. Looking back, I’m in tears because I can see this video for what it really is – my son beyond uncomfortable with food, trying everything he can to avoid food, and stimming to escape. It’s so difficult to watch. I’m sick to my stomach to hear my laughter while I continue pushing the spoon to his mouth. It’s only now I can recognize that concern in his little face.
Notice how he’s not looking at me or my husband. He’s not watching us prepare the food, in fact he doesn’t even notice the spoon until it’s already near my mouth. He looks so concerned. He’s banging on the table. He’s not engaged or interacting or even trying to look at us to express he doesn’t want the food. He’s at the high chair, on a deserted island, and the food is just appearing in front of him.
In the video you could hear us talking about signing to him, he never even looks up at us. We wanted to use sign language because we learned that before babies can physically speak, they have the motor control for signs and any form of communication greatly reduces stress and frustration for them. We had no idea, this video was a foreshadowing of a child who wouldn’t be able to say his first word until almost two years old.
You can also hear me joke about how he likes to chew on everything, like plastic toys and cellphones…. everything except food.
I didn’t know at the time that mouthing objects would become so obsessive and repetitive that it would actual prevent him from learning how to play. I didn’t know this was his first stim.
And when the food just barely touches his mouth, you can see him gagging – not at the flavor but at the feel of it on his on his lip. This was the first of many unsuccessful meal times, until one day he had his first meltdown after being sat in the highchair. Although he couldn’t communicate conventionally, everything about his body and emotion was screaming to prevent another mealtime and everything associated with food. That’s when we called for help.
There’s was so much about autism and sensory processing disorder that I didn’t know about. It’s so much more than hand-flapping. I wish I had known more.
That’s why I am writing and sharing our story with you.
*If you have any concerns about your child’s development, contact your pediatrician, or school district special education department for an evaluation.*
Previously posted at Hudson Valley Parent Magazine.