Whose got a chewer? Soggy sweatshirt cuffs or wrecked T shirt necklines anyone?
Children with sensory sensitivities often feel compelled to chew on toys, clothes, paper, basically whatever is going!
Many parents of children with sensory sensitivities are concerned about the constant chewing because it tears up clothing and can cause tooth problems. So why do many autisic kids like to chew?
Chewing is a form of “Stimming” which is short for self stimulatory behaviour.
There are many stims out there, hand flapping, rocking or spinning to name a few. These are often done to relieve anxiety, reduce fear and combat sensory overload. Neurotypical people also stim to some degree, nail biting, hair twirling and foot tapping are all stimming behaviours, but for those with Autism their stimming tends to be more extreme and more frequent.
The main issue is what to chew or bite safely without risk of choking or poisoning.
Chewie necklaces and other toys designed for child chewing (not teething toys for infants) provide your child with the sensory input they want but prevents them from chewing things you don’t want them to. These are made of food grade silicone, have no nasty chemicals and are dishwasher safe.
As a child gets older, finding discreet chew toys might be necessary. Chewie necklaces are popular alternatives to chewy tubes that are more age appropriate and discreet.
As long as managed safely, chewing non-edible objects are nothing to worry about and one of the more manageable forms of stimming, as it has little impact on others. This subtle form of stimming can be a useful outlet, reducing anxiety and allowing the autistic person to handle situations they find difficult or stressful in a discreet manner. Usually this will just be a phase that will be replaced with other stims in the future. So grab a chewie necklace and bite down!