The interoceptive sense. One of my favorites – mostly because it answers questions that had been looming over my head for quite some time.
As a refresher…
The interoceptive sense is our internal sense. It regulates thirst, hunger, body temperature, and even pain. For more read information read these posts…
Tucker’s interoceptive sense is WAY out of whack. For real.
Today’s post is not about thirst, pain, or body temperature – it’s about hungry.
Tucker also happens to be 13.
He was born hungry. I tried to nurse him, but could not keep up. I was drinking water like crazy, doing all I could do – I COULD NOT fill him up. So, we decided to supplement with formula. He would suck down a bottle in 90 seconds or less.
He was waking up every 90 minutes because he was hungry – still at six weeks.
My mother (bless her heart) finally said, “You have got to get some sleep. Give him some cereal.”
I knew this was ‘against the rules,’ but I finally decided that I would try. Besides – there is something about the age-old wisdom of our grandmothers and mothers. A physician may say it’s against the rules…but they also say teething doesn’t cause diaper rash (I call COMPLETE bull on that).
I made the call. She said, “Just cut the hole in that nipple a little bit bigger. Add some cereal to your milk or his formula. Not so thick that it would have to be spooned – but thick enough it doesn’t come rushing out of the bottle. Just play with it until you get the right consistency.” Call me in the morning.
He slept for 3 hours. I did it again. He slept for another 3 hours.
I called my mom. For the first time in six weeks I wasn’t in absolute tears while talking about making supper, or the grocery store, or doing laundry – I was human again.
The next night he did the same thing and on the third round of cereal he vomited.
Not because he was sick – but because he was finally full. I gave him another round because I ‘figured’ when he was full he would stop. Little did I know…
He is still hungry. Today we celebrated his birthday at Zombie Burger. Today is NOT his birthday – but this is what he wanted for a present. He didn’t want anything – just a trip to this crazy burger joint AND the ability to order whatever he wanted. So, that’s what we did.
He ordered a triple Dawn of the Dead Burger
Three beef patties, bacon, egg, American cheese, red onion, and mayo.
When it arrived I asked if I could cut it in half for him to eat. He looked at me with the “REALLY, MOM?” look.
He ate it all…in under five minutes.
Fries? Of course.
Before the burger and fries he ate nachos and a Chocolate Nutella Marshmallow Shake (ummm…yum…).
We left and within an hour he wanted the leftover nachos. I’m not kidding.
So – here is where I’m left wondering. His interoceptive senses are all screwy and he honestly can’t tell when he’s hungry (or not). So, was a day like today because of this or because he is a growing, 13-year-old boy?
Here is how I know the difference.
Today was teenage hunger, not the interoceptive sense.
When it’s interoceptive taking over he cannot sense his hunger – so much like when he vomited his cereal he will still vomit. Not because he is sick, but because it is his body’s reaction to being full.
Imagine that just for a moment. Your brain not receiving the message that you are full – until it’s way too late and your stomach simply rejects.
There are also days where he will eat only an apple.
This is a tough reality of life on the spectrum. So, if you are struggling with this with your own child here is what we have done.
I do, in fact, still monitor his intake – to a degree…because again, he is a hungry 13-year-old boy.
He can eat all of the healthy food he wants. Our refrigerator is stocked with fruits and ready to eat veggies. He can eat ALL of the healthy food he wants.
He has to ask to eat anything other than that – that way I can at least attempt to regulate.
The best news of this is that 13 years of this and he’s beginning to learn. He will actually say, “Mom, what have I had to eat today?” We’ll quick calculate and he’ll say, “Yeah – I don’t really need anything else, I guess I’ll just have some water.”
Patience and teaching – and doing it TOGETHER.
That’s how we got there (at least on most days…)