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Is Sand food

Part of OB issues is eating non edible items, when I say non edible items I am talking sand, mud, leaves and the most favourite item that tasty treat known to all as playdoh.
This condition is probably the most unrecognised and taken the least seriously of all of them however for us parents it's one of the scariest. We had a trip to Sheffield park and OB tried to do a walk by eat of a leaf, when your at a beautiful  NT property and your son try's to eat a leaf that you have no idea what it is or if it could possibly position him it turns from a lovely walk in the sunshine to one littered with dangers. It's not only the NT gardens that worry us it's our own garden.
We moved to the countryside and have a lovely garden, let's clarify this it was lovely when we brought the house, after three years of neglect it's a rather weed dominated borders but the grass looks good. OB will eat anything he eats mud all the time, the worst one is trying to keep an eye on him with leaves, he picks them and wants to eat it, you can not do anything other than watch and dive in when needed.
I have spoken many times with professionals about this and we have the following, we need to know if it's sensory seeking or a compulsive action. My problems with this is that as a mum I do not know the difference between the two types of behaviour which is why I seek help to clarify why he has this desire to eat none edible items. Trust me I watch him all the time, that's all I do, but I do not know the difference between the behaviours. I change my mind everyday from one to the other as I watch him and try to stop him eating mud or sand. 
So what have we tried to stop this, we have tried giving him food items next to him eg raisins to chocolate biscuits when he is playing with playdoh but believe it or not he prefers the playdoh. We have tried taking him inside the moment he eats something I tried this for two weeks I ended up shattered and achieving just going inside and out again and still him eating.
I am hoping when we see our consultant on Thursday that finally  we are taken seriously about how distressing this can be to a parent. We have been turned down for NHS OT once and told not to re apply as they are so short staffed and would not be able to see us. If not as with salt it will be down the private route. 

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