Gustatory seekers are desensitized to taste and crave sensory stimulation via food with strong, specific, or unusual flavors. Seekers may seem to need constant stimulation. Seekers may seem to need constant stimulation. However, they tend to become more deregulated as they take in more input. Many seekers experience symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), such low impulse control, inability to focus, and behavioral problems.
See below for some ways to identify and support gustatory seekers.
Gustatory Seekers May:
- Seem to have an unusually large appetite.
- Chew or suck on inedible objects, such as clothing or toys.
- Prefer foods with specific flavors, such as sweet, bitter, or spicy.
- Prefer foods with specific textures, such as crunchy, chewy, or mushy.
- Enjoy the taste or texture of non-food items, such as Play-Doh, glue, or paint.
How to Support Your Vestibular Seeker:
- Prepare a wide variety of meals and specific foods with new and interesting flavors.
- Keep small packets of spices or flavoring handy when traveling or eating out.
- Add orange or lemon slices to water to ensure your child is drinking enough.
- Use gum or chewable jewelry to provide oral stimulation when not eating.
- Find edible alternatives that have a similar taste or texture to non-food items.
Note: Contact your pediatrician immediately if you think your child is eating non-food items for any reason other than sensory issues.
Keep in mind that no two children are exactly alike, and most people exhibit both seeking and avoiding behaviors from time to time. If you think your child might be suffering from sensory processing issues, you should seek a professional assessment. The STAR Institute’s Treatment Directory is a great resource that can help you find therapists, doctors, and community resources in your area.