Do Chew Tools Increase the Need to Chew?

Question:  My son has ADHD and Anxiety, he spends a lot of time chewing/sucking on clothes, plastic, and other non- edible items. Would your chewies encourage this sensory seeking behavior or will it help him to eventually not need to mouth everything?   My son is 7 years old.  Thank you!
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Do Chew Tools Increase the Sensory Need to Chew?

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Great question.  Although each child is different, having a chew tool typically doesn’t increase the need to chew.  Especially if the chewing is sensory-related, he’s going to have a need to chew whether or not he has a safe outlet to do so.  Using a chew tool just means that he’ll be able to safely and more comfortably meet that need (as opposed to chewing on his fingers, shirts, pencils, etc.).
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Chewing actually has many benefits, and it usually serves an important purpose.  When you’re thirsty, your body tells you to take a drink.  When you’re tired, your body signals that you need sleep.  Similarly, when some kids need to focus, organize, or calm themselves, their body urges them to chew.
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For more background on why some kids need to chew, click here.  And for a list of all of the chew tools we make, click here.  All options are made in the USA (woohoo!) and come in 3 different toughness levels.  As long as he’s not chewing through things or causing any damage to what he’s chewing/sucking on, it sounds like any of our softest chews would be a good fit for him.
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Some kids always have a need to chew.  Others grow out of it.  For some it ebbs and flows – they might go for weeks or months without needing to chew, and then it comes back again and so forth.  Often this is tied to stress (it’s common to see chewing increase during stressful situations like the back to school transition, holidays, if there’s been a lot of change in their life, etc.).  In my experience, for many kids the need to chew decreases over time, especially if they have other calming / sensory strategies in place, which you can learn more about here.
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I hope some of this helps!
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All my best,
Debbie

My Child Chews on Everything – What Can I Do?

Have you ever craved crunchy foods?  Or chewed gum?  Ever chewed on your pen caps while concentrating or bit your fingernails when nervous?  We all have oral sensory habits to some extent.
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For children with sensory needs and/or Autism, however, oral sensory input can play a particularly important role.  Chewing throughout the day (especially during times of stress and/or anxiety) can help them calm, focus, and self-regulate.
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There are several things you can do to help meet that need safely.  For the purposes of this post I’ll refer to children, but the recommendations here can apply for any age.  Some kids grow out of it, others may always have oral sensory needs to some extent through adulthood.
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Please note that the information here is based on my experience with the children I have personally seen as a speech therapist, and may not be relevant for everyone.  There is NO substitution to an in-person evaluation with a trained professional, with treatment catered to your child’s needs.

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Sensory Benefits of Heavy Work Activities

Heavy work activities are any type of action that pushes or pulls against the body.  This could be tension created by something pushing/pulling against your body (like swimming where the water pushes against the body) or tension that the body itself creates (like monkey bars where the body’s own weight creates the resistance).
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What Are Heavy Work Activities?.

Who can benefit from heavy work activities?
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Everyone!  Everyone needs heavy work activities to some extent.  After all, it’s mostly exercise and getting the body moving, which all of us need.  However, heavy work is of particular benefit for individuals with sensory processing issues for several reasons, such as:
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Why Does My Older Child Chew on Everything?

Question:  My 9 year old chews on everything… erasers, foam rubber, shirt collars.    He has always had an oral fixation since he was a toddler, putting toys in his mouth and chewing on everything in sight.  Is this something more than typical childhood behavior?  I’ve read on some discussion boards that your “Grabbers” are often used by other kids with the same issue.  Looking for advice…


Great question.  For babies and toddlers, putting things in their mouths is a normal stage of oral development.
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Some children, however, continue to chew non-food items well past the mouthing/teething stage.  For some, it is a passing phase.  Other individuals will always have a need to chew that may continue into adulthood.
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Why do some older kids need to chew?.

Why?  There could be many different reasons, and it’s not always a straight answer.  But in my personal experience with the children I see in therapy, it’s typically one (or a combination of) the following:

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