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Friday, September 14, 2007

Fish or fowl?

It’s definitely a kid thing, I think I can be confident in asserting that distinction. I’ve never seen or read about any adult doing it. I don’t think it’s an autism thing. I think it’s a sensory thing, which usually amounts to faulty wiring somewhere along the system. That said, because adults don’t do it, this must mean that whatever it is, disappears as you grow up. Perhaps you feel the same way, but find better ways of dealing with the matter? I need grown ups to tell us, let us in on the secret.

It’s an odd thing to watch, but not a pleasant thing to observe. You can sort of see it happening but for some reason, you’re not able to stop them doing it, at least not in time.

The child sits before the bowl of food. It can be any kind of food but something that in theory, they’re willing to eat. They also do it with food that they really like, preferred food, so it’s not a question of taste or even hunger. Sometimes they’re in a hurry and that might explain it sometimes, but now I’ve seen it in my own two boys and another boy, who is not biologically related to us, I can only conclude that it’s more common than I thought.

Say it’s something like Goldfish crackers, just for a handy example that happens to be a preferred food for any number of children for some unaccountable reason. They munch handfuls of the things. Chomp, chomp, chomp, even if they’re not very good at mastication. Before they’ve swallowed the mouthful, they stuff another handful in and then another. You can see it register in their eyes first, a glimmer of confusion quickly followed by alarm, quickly followed by ejection.

I suspect that these type of children are also wired with super strong gag reflex, which is just as well under the circumstances. The chin will drop and a tongue will slowly disgorge a perfect pellet of pounded putridness, half the size of a cricket ball, considerably large than the size of the oral cavity itself and shaped like a quenelle. Broadly speaking they do not appear to be overly traumatized by the experience and often start to eat a fresh handful of Goldfish without skipping a beat.

It doesn’t look like greed. It looks like an owl regurgitating, slow, deliberate and controlled. Do they forget to swallow? Do they have no taste buds? Do they lack the musculature to manipulate the food to the back of their throats? Do they not register that their mouths are already full? Of course I can’t be sure, and I expect it differs from one child to another, but for mine I think it’s a combination of the latter with a general lack of interest in food.

What’s your experience? Does this make any sense? Have you ever known an adult to do this?

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