It is very common for younger children with autism to want to chew on things. They enjoy the feeling, and it calms them down and relieves their frustrations. However, they do not always have something to chew on, or they do not have something that is good for them to chew on. That is where chewing tubes for children with autism come in.
Children with autism will often chew on pretty much anything readily available to them that they can get either entirely or partially into their mouths. This can be both frustrating and expensive over the long term for parents and instructors, and it can also be dangerous for a special needs child, since you do not always know what they are putting in their mouths. While getting them to stop chewing would be frustrating for both sides (the child and whoever would be making this attempt), a better choice is to provide a safe alternative. Again, this is where chewing tubes come in.
Many children who have autism have difficulty with a variety of their senses. This severe chewing is a kind of hyposensitivity for those with autism. Autistic children do not chew on stuff because they desire to be bad or want to ruin or break things; they chew because they like the feeling they get from chewing. This is imperative to know when trying to fix the issue and find an alternative. Below are some alternatives for this chewing.
Chewy Tubes—As mentioned above, chewy tubes are probably the best and the most popular way to deal with this excessive chewing in autistic children. They are definitely the best way to get started and are a great first option. It is in the best interest of all involved parties to probably begin with chewy tubes and then try some of the other options below if they do not work. More often than not, though, the chewy tubes will work. They are safe for the children to chew, and the children enjoy them and the sensation they get from chewing on them.
Similar to chewy tubes, there are also chew necklaces and other chewy products for children. For older children or adults who struggle with chewing, there are also different chewing gums to try. These chewy tubes and other chewy products give the children the sensory contact and experience they need, and as a consequence the children will stop resorting to chewing other things around the classroom or home.
Oral Stimulation—This refers to different ways to arouse different areas of the mouth. This arousal is also a way try to reduce the need or desire to chew on things for children with autism. The stimulation itself can either be done with a doctor or therapist or just through activities. Here are some of those activities:
- Blowing bubbles
- Blowing balloons
- Going back and forth across the teeth and mouth using the tongue
- Drinking liquids and drinks through a straw
- Filling up the mouth and both cheeks with air
- Using the mouth to create different sounds and noises
- Making faces in the mirror (and pulling on different parts of the face and mouth)
There are also other activities which require the children to use their mouths which can help them stop chewing on other things. Some of these include:
- Reading out loud
- Whistling, humming, and singing
- Playing a mouth organ or musical instrument such as a clarinet
- Blow painting or holding the paintbrush in the mouth and painting
- Listening and then repeating aloud