“Wanna smell my feet?”

This question is asked daily of me by my four year-old son diagnosed with autism.  Call it hypersensitive.  Call it hyper-curious.  Call it what you will.  He is obsessed with his sense of smell.

His favorite question is not “why?” but rather, “Can I smell?”

He’s no smelling snob.  He wants to smell it all: hair, soap, water, lollipops, flowers, paper, laundry, dirt, chalk, grass, crayons, hands, his little brother’s diaper-clad butt, our cats, his car seat, all meals, his mother’s glass of vino (wine connoisseur may very likely be in his future.  The boy’s got the sniffing part down).

If there’s a scent, he’ll find it.

When he walks into a room, it’s not uncommon to see him, sniffer in the air, commenting that he “smells something.”  This is rarely said with a look of disgust, but rather a look of extreme curiosity, as if he’s trying to decipher a great mystery.  He has yet to properly label a smell; instead, when asked what something smells like, he will usually respond simply with, “it smells!”

The specific obsession with smelling feet is partly to blame on my husband.  Nearly a year ago, he was wrestling with Big C, pinned him, pretended to smell his feet, and then pretended they were super stinky.  Well, Big C thought this was hilarious, and it soon became an ongoing ritual.  This inevitably led to him wanting others to smell his feet, a request he makes upon various members of our family frequently.  Conversely, he enjoys smelling other’s feet and has no qualms about asking to do so.

We’ve had “the talk.”  You know.  The one where you have to explain when it is and is not appropriate to smell other’s feet: “the exchanging of foot smelling should be done in the privacy of one’s home, not in the school or workplace.”

What?  That’s not a “rite of passage” conversation all parents have with their children?

At any rate, this whole “feet thing” is kinda cute and all ‘cuz he’s four.

But when he’s fourteen, it may be a different story.

Because let’s be real; feet are kinda gross.

What is your strongest sense?  

Cín / Foter / CC BY-NC


Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

The Sensory Spectrum


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, KeskesInk.com, and my personal blog, MommyCatharsis.com.

16 thoughts on ““Wanna smell my feet?”

  1. That is stinking adorable 🙂 He may not agree or understand that it’s not appropriate to ask everyone to smell his feet but you are so lucky that he is high functioning enough that you can have that conversation with him. Laughing is the best medicine so keep on letting him make you laugh!


  2. Context: this comment is from an spd mama with an spd son (also autistic, squared):
    1. I never realized until recently that other people cannot smell other people’s feet from far away, all the time.
    2. Good luck with the not smelling people’s feet at 14 lesson/hopes. My guy is 12 and progress on such things is…mixed.
    3. He is perfect, wonderful, loved, and – much to my surprise – enjoying the start of middle school !
    Hopes change I guess – and I do Not mean they diminish…


    1. That’s great your son is enjoying middle school; it can be quite treacherous!

      And you are absolutely right about hopes changing. I remember being an expectant mother with such ideological dreams. In truth though, reality is far more rewarding.


  3. My son loves the “stinky feet” game, and my sister was the one who suggested it, as her kids loved it too. We even made up a song about it. He particularly loves it if we pretend to faint from the smell. If he smells something funny, he usually says “What’s that sniff?” Or “It is sniffy”. Other than that though, he is not a huge smeller of things. He loves to listen to things though. Unexpected loud sounds can scare him, but I often find him with his ear pressed to the side of the fridge, listening for the motor to turn on. Washing machine in the spine cycle is also a favourite sound!


  4. I smiled the whole time I read your post. I can relate all too well. My son also loves to smell EVERYTHING! Before he was diagnosed with SPD, I was told that his heightened sense of smell was a sign of extreme intelligence. But when he asked people if he could smell their breath, it was still a little awkward. Now I know why he loves to smell everything but I still think he is extremely intelligent. Great job!


  5. That’s funny. At least he likes the smell. I know one smell sensitive boy who believes he is being polite when he tells people, “Excuse me, but your breath smells bad. Would you like a mint?”


    1. Oh, that’s funny! I love that he offers the mint.

      Big C showcased his love of smell yet again today when I reintroduced him to my friend’s little boy (same age as Big C). My son proceeded to slowly walk towards him, stand inches from his face, then inhale deeply. My friend and I couldn’t help but bust out laughing!

      Thanks for commenting and sharing. 🙂


  6. My son used to walk into a room and instantly comment on the smells. Even last month, we went to a kid party and he couldn’t handle being in the house because of the smell (I think they had a scented candle that was setting him off.) It was just too much. Thanks for sharing on the Sensory Blog Hop!

    Jennifer @ The Jenny Evolution
    @ The Sensory Spectrum


  7. I think of all the ways sensory problems can happen with smells, having one who will cheerfully smell ANYTHING could be a bonus. No about to get sick walking past fish counters, no I won’t take out garbage because I can’t be near the smell. I’m seeing some perks. 🙂


  8. I just came across your blog (4 years later) and so enjoy it! My son (now 19) use to be a strong sniffer! He would sniff the chair after someone got up! Explain that one to a guest!! He no longer does that, thank God! His hearing is exceptional also, to the point that he has developed misophonia. That is not fun, since I am his biggest trigger! I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. 🙂


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