After every summer vacation, with a less structured day plan, and a major change of places & faces, Bader develops new repetitive motor mannerisms. So as expected this year, after four weeks of being away from home and around the beach, most of the time, he started picking up wet sand and tasting it, at first we just ignored it, as I did not want to give it too much attention, that it may turn into a behavior. And asked the family to do the same, which some of them did but had no control over their body language, which Bader can pick up instantly. So as the days went by, I noticed that Bader, would wait for someone to look at him then he starts licking the sand. At this point he was liking his hand after picking up sand, as expected, he got everyone's attention & as they would tell him to stop doing “that” referring to the finger licking, with a disgust look justly earned if I may add, even people at the beach,like seriously no social boundaries! Consequently I was entitled to some serious dirty looks from the more “conservative & concerned” parents as I am sure, you all got your share of those, some even walked to me pointing at Bader & when I say it is ok, I got this, I could see them rolling their eyes. It did get awkward at times, that I felt I had to explain to them about autism & Bader. Eventually the behavior just went from being once or twice a day, and only at the beach to a repetitive behavior that he would do to get attention, or maybe that was his way of dealing with all the changes and the constant criticism.
Subsequently, he would get upset every time someone tells him to stop, and engaged in a self injury behavior ( fist to his head ).
So all the above was happening by the last week of our vacation, so as we got back home. We stared doing more sensory pressure massages on his joints and got a massage chair that he did get access to, anytime he needed to, I did also make him use it while having breakfast, before heading to school, I introduced him to a rowing machine, we also did play with a wall ball, which weighted almost four kg. And we used it also as proprioceptive joint distraction device for this exercise. The Disconnected kids book by Dr.Robert Melillo.) As he would lay on his back on the ball feet extended and arms straight out next to his head, and i grasp his wrist and gently pull & hold for 5 sec. This helped calm Bader while simultaneously increased brain stimulation in both hemisphere. to learn more: http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/blog/2010/05/disconnected-kids-by-dr-robert-melillo-featured-at-jacksononline-com/
So all these activities addressed his proprioceptive needs, the self injury behavior dropped but did not stop, until we started addressing his vestibular & tactile needs.
As he would row few minutes, in the morning before he gets ready to go to school, swing, or use the trampoline. And after school he would swim. We kept doing that for almost 4 weeks, and it did help a lot with the behaviors. As for the licking it reduced at school too, as his teacher would ignore him as well since she also realized, he was seeking attention through licking. So at this point I was clueless, I tried salty snacks, popsicles, salty baths at night were in order as well. We kept doing all of this, and once we introduced a sand box, as his uncle suggested, Bader started playing in the sand box bare foot & stopped the licking.
I still wonder if the sand box was the missing puzzle, despite the fact that all these behaviors ironically started around sand and ended with sand.