When Your Child Chews Everything. Oral Stimmimg
Updated: Feb 27, 2021
Shay has an intense case of oral fixation. It drives me completely crazy at times. I'm always saying "What are you eating now" or "What's in your mouth". At 3 years old she puts anything and everything in her mouth. I have a constant fear of her choking on something or ingesting something harmful. When she started her mothers day out program last spring on her first day the kids were playing with water beads . I informed the class teacher that she would put them in her mouth and choke. Needless to say she only stayed an hour that day that I sat grasping my phone for a call of her choking on something. I was completely terrified. It wasn't always like that either. During her early development stage she never put anything in her mouth. That was one of the odd behaviors we would bring up to the pediatrician in the beginning.
So what is oral fixation. Oral fixation is a form of stimming seen in autism and or sensory processing disorder. It's the need to chew or put things in the mouth way past the age of early development. Some do it for sensory input. Some may do it as a stress outlet.
In early childhood development this is an expected normal part of development with a decline between 12-18 months. It's how infants explore the world around them.
Common things chosen to chew.
1.Shirt child is wearing. The most common area being the neck area. Sleeve area being the second area of choice. Bottom hem.
3. Most common in girls. Hair.
The reason is they are easily accessible to the mouth and are always available.
Dealing with oral fixation.
Oral stimming can be dangerous. It can lead to a choking hazard. It can also create embarrassment to a child in social settings . Dealing with it can be confusing to a younger child though. Why? Your going to encourage to discourage. When this was recommended to us I was not on board at all. This wasn't an issue we had with my older asd child. One thing I learned from him and his diagnosis was it was either black or white no grey. So I really didn't like the idea of encouraging it for certain objects and discouraging it for everything else. I really felt like this was going to cause a huge amount of confusion and we already dealt with enough of that.
Why this approach works. This is a need they are displaying.Filling the need and it stops. Kinda of like being hungry you eat and then you are full.
Amazon carries tons of variety of chewies . I highly suggest reading the reviews of durability.
At present time I'm not suggesting any because we haven't found any that Shay likes. For Shay we still use baby type of chewing toys.
Fun oral stimming activities.
Making silly faces in the mirror. This lets them see the mouth and using it in a fun creative way.
Using a spinbrush for teeth brushing and stimulating the inside of the mouth.
Straw art blowing
Sour candy spray
Harder candies , pop candy, or gum. (older children)
Really spicy or sour type foods
I hope this article was helpful . I'd really love to hear your thoughts and ideas about oral stimming so leave me a comment below .