It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention.
How do we get what is necessary in our lives? How do we get our needs met?
From a very young age, you seemed to do things a little differently than most. Your lack of language, fine motor skills and host of sensory challenges pushed you to be more creativeand sometimes fearless in your approach to getting your needs met.
I remember very vividly one night daddy and I had retired to the living room to watch a movie, thinking all of our sweet babies were all well on their way to snooze-ville. Much to our surprise,who came crawling into the living room, but a 7 month old baby you! That’s right Addie, you crawled into the living room, sat down in the middle of the floor and started watching TV – like “hey what’d I miss?” In shock and awe, dad and I looked at eachother and wondered what the heck had just happened? Like a true baby James Bond you climbed out of your crib and down an entire flight of stairs with no baby gate completely stealth like – AT 7 MONTHS OLD!
(Note baby gates were purchased the next day.)
You wanted out of your crib, so you just figured out a way. Invention out of necessity… problem solved.
Not much has changed today.
You my dear have some pretty significant challenges with your fine motor skills, which includes things like using utensils to eat. But you certainly don’t let this stop you from enjoying your favorite food. Isn’t that what hands are for anyway? We need to eat after all…
It must seem strange that we choose to perform a balancing act with our food on its way into our mouth. You’ve hands down (no pun, ok maybe a little pun…) proven that just about everything can be considered finger food. As a baby, I never gave you a fork to eat cheerios off your highchair tray. Nope, you’d slap down your drooly, adorably chubby baby hands and whatever stuck to them got a free pass into your mouth. Problem solved. No fine motor thumb and finger pinching necessary.
Now, you’re not eating off a tray anymore. Instead, you get your own snacks from the fridge. Keeping with your problem solving approach, you grab a yogurt, peel back the foil with your teeth, and kind of slosh/slurp it into your mouth with a combination of hands, fingers, lips and tongue. It is quite a sight to see. Meanwhile, a fresh, clean spoon is usually sitting next to you at the table. You have no real intentions of using it (unless you are told to), but always appease us by grabbing one from the drawer. I guess it looks nice on the table…
It’s probably hard to understand the concept of putting a foreign metal instrument into your mouth anyway, especially when you consider that I am always saying to spit out the various metal things you are always putting IN your mouth… coins, paperclips, power cords, pushpins, and the like. You actually like the sensation of having something cold and metallic in your mouth (as is evidenced by the constant licking of the metal fence around our back yard). But in this case, I am asking you to put this small metal pitch fork in your mouth, which serves (in your mind) no purpose, and is an extra step between your mouth and the yogurt…wait what?!
So, I did a little research on the subject, my dear, and you know what? You may be on to something Ad! While eating with your hands may not be the most culturally acceptable way to eat inour society, it is wildly acceptable in other cultures, and actually has some proven benefits.
For starters, eating with your hands engages many of our senses(and when you have a processing disorder related to sense we like that)!
The smell of the food being cooked, the sight of the feast, the sounds of chewing, crunching and swallowing, and let us not forget taste! Eating is a highly engaging sensory experience. But as far as touch, you’re typically limited to the textures you experience in your mouth. However, when eating with your hands, you add a tactile dimension to your meal and truly engage ALL of your senses.
Touch is one of the most powerful senses in our bodies. When we touch food with our hands it sends a message to the brain saying “hey we’re getting ready to eat!” which in turn prepares the stomach to release digestive enzymes to receiving food, therefore also improving digestion.
Speaking of digestion, eating with your hands makes you eat slower which also helps digest food better. You become more aware of the process of eating as you really experience it with all your senses. Using utensils has the ability to become robotic and mechanical causing you to ignore signals of being full which has been known to lead to overeating and unhealthy weight gain. Really fascinating stuff!
It also has some great health benefits too (as long as we keep our hands clean…)! The skin of our hands is populated with healthy bacteria, known as normal flora (hear that Ad healthy bacteria and it even has a pretty name). This flora can protect us from other harmful bacteria that come from the outside environment. Eating with your hands can boost your gut’s natural immunity to yucky environmental bacterial germs.
Pretty cool, huh?
Perhaps you’re just a creature of culture? Perhaps, but we’ll keep working on the those fine motor skills anyways, and perfecting the balancing act.
I love you