October 11, 2016

Still Chewing

My first post on this oral fixation, The Need to Chew is Real, covers some of the 'whys' of the issue.  You may want to read it first.

We have tried so many things to keep it under control in a socially acceptable way!  It is not an easy task, but with diagnoses figure out, we have more in our "tool box".

He still chews the gum when stressed or bored, and especially when he needs to concentrate for school work.  We buy it by the bucket!  We have tried sugar-free bubble gum, but its not the same texture - not as hard, so not as effective.

We do the snack tray on occasion, but not daily as we did a couple of years ago.  Rereading my own posts reminds me to get some more lemon candies, but the rest of the snacks - pretzels, peanuts, suckers- we do usually have on hand.  We have added potato chips to the mix of crunchy choices since that first post.

So what works and what doesn't?  This will be different for every child, I'm sure, but here is our experience.

Works most of the time:
Food and gum, as described above.
Drinks, especially with a straw or in a Camelbak bottle

Works occasionally:
Chewies, such as Chewelry
Other chewy toys, like Chew Stixx
Jewelry that shouldn't really be chewed on
Pencils, pens

What he really wants in his mouth and defaults to if not provided continuously with the above:
Headphone wires
and other things that should not be in his mouth

His poor thumbs are a little bit better than they used to be, but the skin picking issue is real.  He picks at the skin with his fingers, then back in his mouth they go, all day long.  Sometimes we put band-aids on to cover, and then he picks at the band-aids...which is better, but doesn't break the habit (compulsion?).  If his thumbs aren't being assaulted, its because his hands are busy with keyboard and mouse while his mind is busy with a game and the headphones are on, which means the wire is in his mouth.  I don't think he will actually get electrocuted should he break through to the insides of the cord, but it does make for more headphone purchases.

The only possible fix I can think of is coating fingers and wires in nasty tasting stuff daily, but since I don't think he can control this thing (perhaps this is his stim?), it would be cruel.  I did try putting clear polish on his thumb nails (and generously missing so it got the surrounding skin), and it didn't make any difference.

Could this issue truly be a stim?  Has anyone else dealt with such a compulsive chewer?

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  1. Absolutely sounds like a cozy and comforting stem to me...that you as a great mom are regulating and tweaking for his health...
    Thanks and love,
    Full Spectrum Mama


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