11 years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night. I went to the loo. On the way back to bed I went to check on my sleeping two year old, I crept in his room and noticed his cot was empty. He was nowhere to be seen.

I panicked, checking all bedrooms, under beds, in cupboards. The stair safety gate was still locked, but I ran downstairs to check anyway, I walked into my living room and almost passed out in shock.

There was my two year old son. He was stood in front of what used to be a TV and what looked like a massive white blob of soft cheese. The DVD player was now a huge mass of butter, my floor had squelching milk puddles, and our gold fish was floating on its side in a milky white tank.

I slowly walked to the kitchen, still in disbelief; the contents of three boxes of cereal were now spread across the floor, along with a puddle of ketchup and about six yoghurts. My son himself was smothered in sudacrem. My downstairs was ruined. Curtains, walls, sofa, and chairs everything covered in handprints.

I took my son to the shower - and tried to wash the sudacrem off, but as you can imagine it’s very oily and didn’t want to budge. I ruined about five towels trying to get the sudacrem out.

My son was screaming, hating being showered and wiped. I was still in shock. First how did my son get out of his cot? How had he got downstairs with the gates on? How had he got through cupboard locks? Opened all these packages? Without me hearing a thing! How was I ever going to clear up the mess? How was I going to afford another week’s worth of shopping? Replace all the items?

My son has a diagnosis of autism, not that I really knew what that meant at that point. But waking up to my son smearing things has become a regular occurrence. I did what I could to stop him getting into the kitchen whilst I slept, but then he would just empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner all over the place - one night I slipped downstairs not seeing that he had again woken up without me hearing and squirted liquid soap at the top of the stairs. Thank goodness I hadn’t been carrying my son at the time!

I then started hiding all the soap and bubble baths. By then he had figured how to climb and unlock the kitchen door and was back to smearing kitchen food everywhere. I was at my wits end. Even during the day, every meal I gave him would be rubbed into the walls, carpet, chairs, his body, you name it. He would also smear the contents of his nappy all over himself, if I hadn’t got to him within seconds of having a poo! The only solution I came up with was for me to sleep on the floor outside my son’s room so I could hear if he got up. Thankfully this worked, sadly it made the only few hours sleep I got very uncomfortable. A small price to pay for my son’s safety and to prevent so much destruction.

I had no idea he was sensory seeking. I was given his diagnosis of autism and left to it. This went on for years.

After my daughter was born, at two years old, she was also diagnosed with autism, she was displaying similar food smearing behaviours that my son had done, this time thankfully I was a lot more clued up on autism and associated sensory seeking and avoiding behaviours. I managed to contact her occupational therapist who diagnosed my daughter as having sensory processing difficulties alongside autism and she was put on a sensory diet, which is basically me doing small bits of sensory activities often throughout the day so that her sensory tank is always in balance. It hasn’t fully stopped her smearing but it has helped a great deal!

She is four now, We still have the times where she will pick up her dinner and rub it on herself, my son who is now 13 and also on a sensory diet, still has times where he will rub food into his hands, but thankfully due to the sensory diet this happens in smaller amounts than previous!

The sensory diets have to be done about six - eight times a day per child, it takes up a lot of time, but if not stuck to, even for a day, many of these unwanted sensory seeking activities come back, so it’s very much worth the effort!!

Yasmin blogs at - Sugar spice and all things autism