One of the diagnostic criteria symptoms for autism is repetitive body movements like hand flapping, rocking, and more. These behaviors are known as stimming behaviors.
While these behaviors are normally not a cause for concern, some stimming behaviors can become dangerous for a child with autism. For children with oral stimming, there are many adjustments parents need to make to keep a child safe from chewing on inanimate objects.
To help you curb you child’s oral stimming, here are the best oral sensory chew toys!
Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you click on them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.
What Is Oral Stimming?
Similar to regular stimming behavior involving repetitive motions like rocking and spinning, oral stimming involves repetitively chewing inanimate objects. While some children with autism have a preference on objects they like to taste or chew on, other children do not. Anything and everything is considered a chew toy.
Think of it like how a baby putting everything in his or her mouth to discover what an object is. Children with autism and oral stimming do the same thing. The only difference is that a child who oral stims will likely know what the objects are.
However, children who oral stims needs to chew to provide oral stimulation to regulate emotions or if the child is overstimulated or under stimulated from sensory input around them.
Children who need to oral stim are often found with the following inanimate objects in their mouth:
- Pencils or pens
Although the behavior can’t be stopped, there are some dangers to oral stimming.
Potential Dangers Of Oral Stimming
By the small list of inanimate object examples above you can see where some potential dangers come into play with oral stimming. The most worrisome potential danger is a child choking on small objects he/she decides to chew on.
Second, those same small objects could be swallowed. Swallowing small inanimate objects causes a host of potential dangers related to the digestive tract.
Third, if a child is prone to trying to chew on hard objects that don’t break down like rocks, the hard objects can chip his/her teeth.
For parents of children with oral stimming (like myself) constant supervision is needed because everything is a potential chewing danger for your child. Thankfully, there are ways to change your child’s behavior of chewing inanimate objects to chewing safe objects.
You can do this by redirection. Redirection is the process of taking away potentially harmful behavior and replacing it with an acceptable one. For instance: If you see your child trying to chew off the buttons of his shirt, simple hand him a sensory chew toy to ‘redirect’ him to the acceptable behavior of chewing on the sensory toy.
Trust me, it does work! Every time I see my son chewing on something that doesn’t need to be chewed I run and grap a sensory chew toy because he does need to be reminded of what chewing behavior is acceptable.
By doing this, you’re telling your child two things:
- You’re letting your child be him/herself by chewing.
- You’re showing your child that certain objects are not meant for chewing
For more on oral stimming and five tips for managing it, check out my article on the Speech Blubs Blog!
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To help curb your child’s oral stimming, let’s look at some of the best sensory chew toys available for children with autism and sensory needs!
Stimming Chew Toys
The best chew toys are the ones that come in packs with multiple chew toys! These chew tubes fit perfect in a child’s hand and are extremely durable. They come with different textures and colors to stimulate visual and oral senses.
These terry cloth chew necklaces are designed for moderate chewers. The bands are highly absorbable and are great for children who have a tendency to chew on their clothing. Wear one or wear multiple at a time!
Designed for both girls and boys, this set of four is great for moderate to heavy chewers. They come with a breakaway clasp and can be easily cleaned. Although it’s a simple design with limited texture, these chewers still get the job done!
Sensory elements also offers different colors in the same design as well!
The XXT stands for “Xtra Xtra Tough.” This handheld chewer is made for aggressive chewers with lots of jaw pressure. It features three different textured surfaces, perfect for exploring, stimulating the senses and is probably one of the best when it comes to oral sensory chew toys because of its durability.
These oral sensory chew toys are perfect for a child of school age. Some children prefer to chew on pens and pencils. Not only does this bundle come with four chew necklaces, it also comes with a pencil chew topper.
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Instead of giving your child oral sensory chew toys resembling inanimate objects, opt for a delicious Oreo! This sensory necklace is for light to moderate chewers with a medium firmess. It offers tons of different textures to stimulate the senses!
By far, this is the cutest chew toy on this list! This fox is for both boys and girls and is extremely fashionable. It offers a medium firmness for light to moderate chewers.
Beaded chew necklaces like this one come in a variety of colors suitable for girls and boys. My son has a grey one and he loves it! He is an aggressive chewer and the beads do hold up to his chewing.
But be aware that the beads are separated by a knot and the beads are able to slip over them. This will make it so there are long strands of cord and the beads to be smushed together.
These strong tubes are rated for extremely aggressive chewers. Instead of a typical silicone chewers is a strong BPA-free tube. It is also dishwasher safe and can be clipped to clothing zippers and shirt collars.
Final Thoughts On Stimming Chew Toys
There are tons of oral sensory chew toys available to meet the needs of any child with sensory processing, autism and oral stimming. Whether your child is a light chewer or a very aggressive chewer like my own son.
The best way to accommodate your child’s oral sensory needs is to make a chew toy available to your child at all times. This will eliminate your child chewing on inanimate objects like cords, rocks and more.
Remember, if your child is chewing on something he or she is not suppose to, use one of the above chew toys to redirect your child to acceptable chewing behavior.
I know oral stimming can be frustrating to deal with as a parent. My son chews on E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G! There’s nothing same or sacred in our house. Thankfully, oral sensory chew toys help dramatically lessen our household damage!