Chewing on pencils and other things I did...

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Joined: 10 Sep 2009
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15 May 2010, 12:21 am

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS last year.

While reading about the signs of autism, I came to wonder if I don't have autism myself, or at least traits.

I recall chewing on pencils and pens in 2nd and 3rd grade especially and continued throughout middle school (but to a lesser extent). I am talking about chewing a full pencil down to a pulpy stub and chewing a pen until the plastic casing cracked and continuing to chew until there I was spitting out a few little pieces of plastic. I guess that was kind of weird in retrospect.... :roll:

I also remember not wanting to wear blue jeans. Keep in mind, EVERYONE my age wore blue jeans. I was always a little chubby and didn't feel comfortable in them. I wore my mum's old polyester pants when I was in grade 7. They didn't pinch at the waist and they were comfy. Evidently, I was also committing fashion suicide and looked like a total dork and I remember the other kids making comments.

I also remember having trouble processing what others were saying. I was okay, as long as the instructions were written down in point form. I remember having a swimming class where one of the teachers gave the instructions from across the pool. I now had to deal with distorted large public swimming pool sounds and processing. I approached the teacher and asked him what was happening. He got very angry with me and actually poked me really hard in the arm as he berated me for "not listening."

I remember beginning to have panic attacks in grade 1 and getting overwhelmed with fear when I didn't understand a concept. Thankfully I eventually picked up on simple fractions - but I was terrified and actually started crying at lunchtime because I didn't understand the lesson.

I also started feeling very socially isolated and somehow "different" in 2nd grade. All the other kids seemed to go off into groups and I was sort of always alone and left out. I remember walking around and around the school at recess and lunch because I didn't have anyone to really talk to and walking seemed to make me feel better. I remember some other kids pointing this out, whispering as I passed, "she just walks around and around the school every day."

I never thought it was unusual that I didn't date in high school (at all) and really had no interest in the opposite sex until I was around 14 or 15. I couldn't contemplate how to approach someone. I had a couple of female friends that I hung around - only at school though. There were no guys in my social circle.

I would spend hours in my room in the dark. I found it comforting. I would have panic attacks when I couldn't understand algebra or figure out how to pronounce something in French (it is mandatory to take French in 8th grade in my country - even though I am thousands of miles away from La Belle Province of Quebec!!)

I had trouble with sarcasm and inuendo.

I would try to compensate for my lack of friends and ability to be comfortable with people by being aloof. I compensated for my lack of romance/sex/relationships by going to a conservative church and believing that having a boyfriend was somehow sinful so my not having a boyfriend or any romantic experience was "okay" and even beneficial.

I am almost 40 years old now. I am married. I have two great kids. I am employed. I live independently (with hubby and kids). I even have a friend or two. I am liberal minded about other people and non-judgmental. I am okay.

I wonder what I would be like if I had some sort of intervention. Would I have been more confident. Would I have succeeded better in school if the teaching was different or enhanced? Would I have become more successful career wise? Would I have felt less "weird". Would I have ended up worse and felt more "weird" - I just don't know.

I pass as a slightly quirky NS. That's why I say I have "traits" or have autism, but it doesn't affect me as noticeably. Or maybe I am just delusional and people think "Gee, do you think Rose is one of those people who has autism, but is very high functioning and was never diagnosed as a kid"

Who the heck knows.

Anyways, as my own kids are growing up - I remember more stuff and I have to sigh deeply, acknowledge the memory and move on. I examine my current life, work, parenting, relationships and consider that my feelings and reactions might be hued by my "traits" and try to make the best of these traits by either controlling them, altering what I am doing or my environment or using them to my advantage.

Anways, I am just musing. It is almost 10:20 PM and I have to be at work tomorrow morning bright and early.

If you have any comments or want to share any of your thoughts, please feel free.


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15 May 2010, 1:20 am

First of all, I love your username! It's good to have another Rose just to the north of me! :D

CanadianRose wrote:
I also remember not wanting to wear blue jeans. Keep in mind, EVERYONE my age wore blue jeans. I was always a little chubby and didn't feel comfortable in them. I wore my mum's old polyester pants when I was in grade 7. They didn't pinch at the waist and they were comfy. Evidently, I was also committing fashion suicide and looked like a total dork and I remember the other kids making comments.

I hated jeans as a child. I had a couple of bad experiences with them and I didn't start wearing them until I was around 13. Even to this day, I still prefer sweatpants, but that is mainly due to my active lifestyle (I run alot).

CanadianRose wrote:
I never thought it was unusual that I didn't date in high school (at all) and really had no interest in the opposite sex until I was around 14 or 15.

I've never had a boyfriend. I didn't start having a real interest in guys until just a couple of months ago (and I'm 19!)


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Joined: 22 Apr 2010
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15 May 2010, 2:09 am

Couldn't say.

However I did always appreciate a nice pencil in those grades and so I do recall noticing everyone's pencils and the good majority of them were horribly gnawed on and mangled.

So I must conclude that pencil chewing is a rather common thing among children that age.

I did regard jeans as the most uncomfortable form of clothing next to wool when I was younger though.


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15 May 2010, 3:01 am

Why not do some of the tests here:

If nothing else, take the first two tests (the BAPQ and the AQ test).

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
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15 May 2010, 7:03 pm

I chewed old number 2's down to the metal eraser... and i liked fresh ones, like a carrot, but I didn't swallow, kinda like chewing tobacco. I did this in history class in the 7-8 grade, they sent me to a special ed department...
I did it because the class was beyond imagination mind screaming boring i love history now...
so in the back of class while everyone is in there books, crunch, crunch, crunch,
I was the worst ambassador, in the sense that I was in the busing days, when they would collect up students from race districts and swap them with students in another. I was sent to a black Jr. high school in Connecticut, and they get an ASD out of a couple bus loads, I had to walk the gauntlet many times. I started carying a hard surface briefcase to school to protect my books, i had polyester pants that were cordiroi and Tom McCain shoes that were blue and white saddle, and I am male.
...for sure I looked like a clown.

Don't let it live, it will reproduce...


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15 May 2010, 7:19 pm

My pencil was always chewed, so were the erasers. I chewed the mid section of my pencil, so it wasn't chewed down to the end or anything, just the middle had my tiny teethmarks all over it with paint chipped away. I can still remember how one yellow pencil looked, all chewed. I used to be self conscious about having the only chewed pencil in the class. I would look around, hoping to find some other chewed pencils but never did. Sometimes I wonder if I also had Pica, a condition where non food items are craved.

By the time I was in middle school, I no longer chewed pencils.


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Joined: 22 Apr 2010
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15 May 2010, 7:30 pm

This thread reminds me of the musical "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown". It's a show based on the Peanuts cartoons, and the finale song, Happiness, starts with Charlie Brown finding out that the girl he likes chews on her pencil. The lines are:

"I'm so happy. That little red-headed girl dropped her pencil.
It has teeth marks all over it. She nibbles her pencil.
She's human! It hasn't been such a bad day after all."

It's a good song.

I chewed on pen caps a lot, but hated the feeling of chewed pencils.

Transgender. Call me 'he' please. I'm a guy.
Diagnosed Bipolar and Aspergers (questioning the ASD diagnosis).

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15 May 2010, 10:23 pm

Pencil/pen pica topic

Heck,, I even tasted the glue in a glass bottle with the red rubber wedge shaped stopper that had a slit opening. I remember it had a rather bitter taste, and a boy in my class noticed and screamed out "OOOOOH, S**** G***** eats glue!! !" I can still hear his voice in my head. 8O I actually loved the taste of the pink erasers at the end of the pencils and pens and the taste of the large ones called 'pink pearl.' :twisted:

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16 May 2010, 1:17 am

Oh, I am with you on the dungarees [they were not blue jeans where and when I was] and of course the pencils. I hate to think how much lead I ingested in my early school datys. Eventually I shifted to my glasses frames - my present ones bear the marks. In fact, a lot of your stuff was minde - maybe less intense in parts - but then my wife's "traits" cut in.

For what it is worth, I am very glad I did NOT get intervention. Don't know how it is in Canada, but I know the Brits about 1980 were really down on American handling od such things. I lucked into a fewteachers who could talk to me, a small but after about 1960 steady trickle of genuine friends, and most people [except some in my family] seem to have me just analyzed as quirky. I suppose just the RIGHT intervention? But I am a pessimist on the odds of RIGHT intervention.


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16 May 2010, 10:55 am

Pencil lead isn't lead. It's graphite. That's a form of carbon, and is no more unhealthy than eating burnt toast.

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Autism Memorial:

Emu Egg
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27 Sep 2010, 9:24 am

Amazing I can not find much on lead in paint on pencils from long ago on the Net.


From J. Chem. Educ., 1972, 49 (5), p 379

Relatively unnoticed until the present, however, the
paint on many brands of wooden pencils on the market
contains lead in as high a concentration as 30y0! (Particularly
suspect are yellow paints, in which lead chromate
is a common pigment.) This report comes as the
result of two studies recently undertaken by the Washington,
D.C. Department of Public Health and the
New York City Bureau of Lead Poisoning Control.

The matter of lead-painted pencils is a most serious
one. Anyone with even a casual familiarity with the
classroom can attest to the high incidence of pencil
chewing among young children.
An official of HEW'S Maternal and Child Health
Services has stated that children three years of age or
under should ingest no more than 300 pg of lead per day.
(The air we breathe and the food we eat contribute to
this daily total.) A child eating just one milligram of
paint, an amount equal in weight to about one thousandth
of an aspirin tablet, would receive 300 pg, if the
paint contained 30% lead.
Further information concerning the basic medical
and environmental aspects of lead poisoning may be
found in the current issue of Environmental Science and
Technology in an article by Stephen K. Hall. (Back in the 70's)


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27 Sep 2010, 10:55 am

I never wanted to wear jeans either. Until tenth grade I was always in blue cotton jogging pants. By grade 12 or so, I'd begun to go corderoy. Wore my first jeans in grade 13.

Also never thought about sex until I was older... in fact, I was 19 or 20 and the girl found me, started a relationship with me, and introduced sex to me. She was a year younger than I was.

- Hours alone? Yes. All hail Legos.
- A strong desire to sleep with my laundry dumped in the bed. Yes :P (anyone else do this?)
- Pencil chewing not too much. Erasers.. well... a bit guilty.
- Some people I can read sarcasm/etc in. Some people I totally don't get humour with.
- Friends; I don't know that I've ever had more that one "come visit me" friend at a time. Often not even that. And I didn't really miss it. My sister was the extrovert. Still is :P

By the way Rose - yeah. You're prolly positive for Asperger's.
'Gratz on the successes... Wish I had a family and a home too :P
:alien: <--- green envy monster ! But, a happy-for-you envy, not the mean envy !


Link to article; Lead in Pencils 1971

Snowy Owl
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28 Sep 2010, 1:26 pm

Ha I was exactly the same, and still am.

I chew on EVERYTHING. I need to be chewing on something all the the time, or I will go crazy. I bite bits off my nails and chew them in my mouth, I chew on pens so much that I have broken eight so far this month. I chew my lips, and I even chewed tables when I was little!

I hated jeans, and still do. I have worn jeans, but just to fit in. Now I wear boy's clothes and cargo trousers, and I'm loving it! I do like cords, but mum doesn't, and as I am rather poor, I don';t get my own money to buy clothes.
I don't chew erasers... much. :3
I'm the same, I hardly ever get sarcasm unless it's frighteningly obvious, or if it is used by one particular friend. And same, at the moment, I have ONE friend. One, who is merely with me for convenience, I suspect, as we are both newbies in our school, and I annoy the hell out of her.
I don't go round hers at all, actually, it's more of a companionable thing.

I envy everyone with good parents and a diagnosis! I wish I was in another family, older, or diagnosed, then my life would be much easier. I will say, for now, I do have it.

I used to be an extrovert, but now I'm the opposite.

Some people are autistic... deal with it!
Self-diagnosed female Aspie (AS- 171/200, NT- 26/200)

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
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03 Oct 2010, 12:01 pm

I'm 19, and I still have a problem with chewing on pencils, something I would kill to break, along with several similar bad habits. And I don't just chew on the eraser, I actually bite on it and pick off the paint.