I keep finding chewed up socks and cuddly toys around the house. Jude went through a phase when he was younger of needing that sensation in his mouth, something to chew on and to hold. But these last few years he hasn’t done it and I thought we’d perhaps moved past this section of his development. Well, no we clearly haven’t so I’m ordering Jude a few chewy toys that are specifically made for this requirement so he can fulfil his needs without ruining all our clothes, plastic toys and Emmeline’s cuddly animals.
Here are some I found online (linked items):
This next one is mint flavoured!
I love this next one as I think Jude would like to hold onto the lace bit even if he wouldn’t put it round his neck (which I doubt he would)
Chewing is a type of stimming. I think I’ve mentioned in the past about Jude lining bits of paper up on his pillow and flicking them around in organised patterns only recognisable to him. Well that’s a stim as well. Some children, particularly those on the ASD spectrum flap their hands, rock or clap repetitively and this can be used as a way of processing something from the outside or perhaps as a way of relieving anxiety or stress. Everyone stims in some way – when I’m thinking really hard about something and have my legs crossed, I flap my foot really quickly up and down. No idea why but it helps me concentrate. Some people bite their nails or twist locks of hair around their finger when thinking about something worrying or complex. I guess the difference is that people with ASD or learning disabilities have more elaborate or stereotypically obvious ways of stimming that most people would consider abnormal.
I have been reading up on ways of lessening the chewed up clothing and cuddly toy situation as frankly, I have enough laundry to do already. I read one article that explained how offering more activities similar to chewing could help. Some suggestions were sucking drinks through a straw, blowing balloons and bubbles, touching each tooth with the tip of your tongue from one side of the mouth to the other (this may be too complex for Jude), looking in a mirror and puffing out your cheeks and making funny faces, singing, reciting words and reading out loud (basically more talking so using the mouth muscles), whistling, playing a mouth organ or recorder and for the creatively minded…blow painting.
In the meantime, I’ll order a couple of the above chewy things and see if it helps his anxiety. I’ll also try and feature into our day a few of the above suggestions such as blow painting as I think he’d really enjoy that.
If you have a child with ASD, do they have any chewy items? I’ve never thought to buy one in the past but think it’s definitely time. I’d love to hear your chewing stories! How weird does that sound…?!