Autism and the Turkey Paci

Autism: “self + -ism”  (from the Greek prefix, auto = self)

1. a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors (,
2. a tendency to view life in terms of one’s own needs and desires. (  Isn’t this everyone?

My definition: exhaustion (sprinkled with anxiety and a dash of humor)

WTF?  Did she just say turkey pacifier?

Yup.  Not being metaphorical at all.  I mean a legit chunk of meat being sucked on as a way of pacifying.

Vomit in your mouth just a little bit?  Me too.

A little back story: Big C (my three year-old recently diagnosed with ASD) has never used a pacifier.  I never had to deal with the weaning of the Binky.  Hey, I had to luck out somewhere.

However, Big C has always been a big fan of lunch meat.  Not the worse thing, right?  I mean, yeah, it’s loaded with sodium and preservatives and blah, blah, blah.  I figure it’s a hell of a lot better than pigging out on fruit snacks and Doritos all day (no judgment if your kid does that).

I never really thought much of his desire for it.  I can’t even remember the exact moment it started.  One day, I just started noticing he was eating it all throughout the day.  He started requesting  a “little piece” with breakfast, on his sandwiches for school, when he got home from school, right before dinner, right before bed…

Then one time when I had to wake him up from nap, I noticed an unpleasant meaty odor coming from his mouth.

He was sucking on turkey in his sleep!  

When you’re done gagging, continue reading.

That’s when I knew we might have a little problem on our hands.  It was time for an intervention.  An Oscar Meyer Oven Roasted Turkey Breast intervention.

Turns out sucking on lunch meat soothes Big C.  It’s a sensory thing.  The second he pops a chunk into his mouth, he goes into this zen-like zone.  He stares into space, his mouth twitching like a rabbit’s as he sucks on it.  It completely calms him down whens he’s having a manic moment.

It is so freakin’ bizarre, and so freakin’ hilarious.

Bu no harm, no foul, as far as I’m concerned.  I do recognize the dangers of choking on it and have been weaning him from it before nap and bedtime, but aside from that though, I say…

…let the boy enjoy his turkey crack.

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A version of this post also appears on Sammiches and Psych Meds.


~Chaos Contemplated (for now)

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Published by Miranda Keskes

I am a freelance writer, editor, and tutor with fifteen years of high school teaching experience. Helping young adults craft their unique writer's voice is one of my passions. As the mother of a child with autism, I also feel compelled to share our story, connect with fellow parents, and raise awareness for a diagnosis that is still quite misunderstood. Learn more at my business site,, and my personal blog,

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