Seoul BBQ, Aurora CO. Mia reaches out her hand towards the middle of the table. My eyes track the direction of her arm to see she is reaching for five metal cups that are stacked inside each other. I grab the cups and set them in front of her. The waitress stands besides my father in law as he dictates the tables dinner order. "Please makes sure to bring the little girl a bowl of white rice as soon as possible" he asks. We've learned from past experiences that a pleasant dinner is contingent on distracting Mia with an activity or food. Mia lined up the cups in a perfect row in front of her. She then stacked them, then lined them up again. So it went until the waitress presented her rice in a metal tureen.
Mia loves white rice. My daughter is hard to please when it comes to food. She has been known to love a grilled cheese sandwich one day and the next day she will sit for half an hour leaving it completely untouched. She set right to work using her pincher fingers to delicately pluck each grain and place it in her mouth. Each time she put her hand in the bowl, errant globs of rice would stick to her skin. Immediately noticing the globs she ate each mound moving her hand in different positions to contour to her mouth. "Why does she love rice so much?" I asked to the table. My husband said, "I think it's because she likes to keep her hands clean. It's sticky, but she can easily clean herself off."
I've heard that some kids with Autism have sensory issues with their hands. In some cases, touching different textures such as play dough can even make them gag. I often see the queston "Does your child tolerate having sticky hands?" when checking in for a new therapy. In most cases, Mia uses her shirt, my shirt or her hair to clean her hands off. I'm usually too late to rush a napkin to her. Sensory issues in children have been known to grow more intense as they grow. This kind of behavior is what we're working to curb in Occupational Therapy. Time will tell what her level of comfort with texture will be.