Little Angel, who is practically seven and a half years-old, doesn’t exactly still explore the world through his mouth … but close. He doesn’t have pica, but he has pica-like behaviors. One of his educational team was telling me how much Little Angel was enjoying playing “appropriately” in the wood chips, lifting handfuls and letting them sort through his fingers, never once putting one in his mouth. They said they were also seeing this behavior in the sandbox. I found it astonishing because, sometime since the regression (three years ago), he has been decidedly unsafe in those environments and we must continue to closely monitor him (as if we ever take our eyes off that turkey).
But okay, if he’s enjoying that Sensory exploration then super! We got out the bean box we’d made when Big Angel was a baby — a large clear shoebox filled with dried beans and all kinds of fun, small, different textured / shaped items — and sat down with Little Angel to play. First thing he did was reach in, pull out a handful of dried legumes, and tried to shove them in his mouth. We grabbed his wrist, redirected it back to the box and opened his fist to release the inedibles, only to have him sneak in to do it again. The lid went back on and the bean box was returned again to its lonely place in the basement.
I figured if he’s going to put things in his mouth then I’d make an edible bean box, and as the HJ played with Little Angel I set to work. I put in pretzel sticks, Chex cereal puffy squares, chocolate chips, lemondrops, gummy bears, and mini marshmallows. I wanted different shapes and textures in there for him.
Little Angel, whom we suspect is both left-side dominant and, probably more likely, has hemispatial neglect, put his left hand right into the box and dug around, touching everything but not looking. He pulled out a marshmallow and went in again and again, pulling out marshmallows one at a time to first squeeze and then pop in his mouth.
This is not a snack: this is a Sensory activity which I will not use daily with him, but a few times a week, sure. I am so excited about it, that he gets to touch different textures / shapes and that it’s all safe. Hallelujah! Perhaps in warmer weather I’ll try putting items in whipped cream (as he’d eat the shaving cream) or graham cracker dust (to imitate sand) — both activities to take place outside.