Thursday, 21 February 2013

The plight of the headless soldiers...

Something that I haven't shared here before is Mini's habit of chewing.

He does it a lot. There doesn't seem to be a pattern, and I'm not therefore sure if it occurs just when he's anxious and stressed and is an attempt at regulation or whether it's just a bad habit or if it's some kind of sensory processing disorder. It might even be related to having a bottle for too long, or it just might be because he's Mini...there are so many possible reasons and I know lots of children chew - pencil tops, jumper sleeves, but how do you stop it?

I'm starting to find it difficult to deal with as I find myself so often calling out "take that out of your mouth Mini". And then in response I get a mumbled "No", as chewing becomes more important than refusing to chew! Dollop is starting to copy, and it's bad enough keeping things out of her mouth anyway. And it's becoming so much more frequent.

Mini's mouth can be a treasure trove and on many occasions I have removed lego men, uninflated balloons, whoopee cushions, marbles, sleeves, straws, pens, coins, fingers with virtually no nail left, empty toilet rolls, toy cars and little green toy soldiers - sadly many have become limbless and/or headless and have gone to recycling bin heaven. All this from his mouth, or even worse, covered in saliva and held in a firm grasp as Mini refuses to give up his gnawing bone. Then when I finally retrieve said chew toy, it slips from my grasp leaving a trail of wet gobby gloop across the floor, and I am left with a screaming, disregulated, dramatic child declaring his 'need' for the slimy headless soldier.

Clearly in these situations he does need something to chew on, it helps him and doesn't appear to be doing any damage to his teeth. But the above items aren't safe and I have visions of x-rays showing poor lost lego man heads, or even worse a marble run around his vital organs!

So tangles for children who fidget or need stress relief. But what about children who have an oral fixation? Mini would happily chew on toffees or chocolate eclairs if I let him, but then there really  would be some damage to his newly forming adult teeth He could have gum, but at 6, I'd really rather he didn't. I don't think he'd go for a teething ring and in any case, with big teeth coming through I don't suppose it'd be too long before he was through it. Perhaps with the Theraplay it might just resolve itself as Mini becomes more able to regulate and more in control of his emotions.

Any ideas?


20 comments:

  1. i've heard of these and often wondered about them for my own little chewing baby girl, there are all sorts of different types this is just one example, Google Gumigen

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/GUMIGEM-Gumigem-Dog-Tag-Commander/dp/B009413W2E/ref=sr_1_20?ie=UTF8&qid=1361478171&sr=8-20

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    1. Ooh, they look interesting. Thanks for sharing, definitely something to consider. x

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  2. No ideas, but I'd love to hear from anyone who has; as I have a clothes chewer. Collars, jumper necks, scarves, sleeves - anything that's near his mouth. He never had a dummy, and only started doing it in the last few years, but it is maddening.
    But Mini's habit sounds a lot harder to handle - small toys in his mouth, that would freak me out. It must be such a worry. Could you let him have a dummy, just for use at home? Or sweets to suck? (gobstoppers?)You've probably tried those already, and if it is chewing rather than sucking they may not help. Does peer pressure work at school?
    I just looked up the tangle toys, they sound perfect for my little fidgets. I've bought Pup worry beads, but they are too easy to demolish so not a total success.
    Hope you find a solution!

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    1. Thsnks Meg. Yes it does freak me out. We've offered a dummy but he won't (he never had one when he was little either), and I'd rather not go down the sweets route...he does everything he can to get sweets as it is and as I'm diabetic I'd rather not encourage that.
      However, Family of Five has suggested Gumigem and the dog tags above look like something Mini would go for.
      And someone on Twitter has just posted this link - http://sensorydirect.com/products/chewbuddy.asp the chew buddy is good for fidgeters too...

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  3. How about a rubber sports gum shield? I know it sounds silly but its safe, made for the mouth and rubbery enough to have a chew of......also might be worth having a chat with a dentist as they may have an idea to consider.....?

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  4. ooh this is the site for products for older children, just found it x http://www.chewigem.co.uk/

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  5. Consulting an Occupational therapist is your best bet...but since those are tricky and expensive to come by maybe try one of these (I work with a lot of kids who do this and Jonathan does too):
    1. check out this website http://chewytubes.com/products/chewy-tubes/ you can also buy these kinds of products from other websites too. You can put a quick release string (the kind that will break open if they get caught up!)through them so the kids can wear them as a necklace.
    2. you could buy a bunch of these http://goo.gl/75pGM and redirect them to chew these instead (make sure you get non-toxic ones as dollar store type ones are not) plus they're a bit more socially acceptable
    3. sugar free gum and candies
    4. snack on crunchy food - carrots, pretzels, bread sticks, celery, etc.
    5. use a vibrating toothbrush
    6. get other vibrating things like these http://goo.gl/zjHgl or nano bugs- but they're pretty little and encourage the kids or do it together, to rub on their cheeks, chin etc.

    Hope that helps a bit!

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    1. Loads more lovely links thank you, I knew I could rely on my lovely readers to come up with brilliant ideas.
      We do 4 - he's a big fan of raw carrots and apple too and we tried 5 but in a rage he broke it completely. He'll often throw his toothbrushes around and I can't afford to keep replacing broken electric ones :-( 3 Isn't one I'm keen on, sugar free stuff here is full of other nasty controversial sweeteners, and I don't want to encourage gum...But we'll definitely look at the other options. Thanks so much x

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  6. I've got one of those - I think mine chews when he's stressed or trying to regulate himself, happens lots at school!

    At the moment we have 2 different types of chewy....

    http://www.exploreyoursenses.co.uk/chewies/chewies/chewy-heart-necklace-available-in-4-colours.html

    and

    http://www.sensetoys.com/NUWAG6791991_categoryid;V2EMLDRNAK

    He prefers the second one, but the first type is smaller and more discrete for school. He has both types on lanyards with safety fasteners on.

    I have also been referred to this website
    http://www.sensorysmarts.com/

    as a starting point for more information.

    Let me know how you get on.

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    1. Thanks nh...again more great links to look up. You have saved me trawling the internet for options, and it's great to have personal recommendations too :-)

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  7. chewy sticks from amazon I've come across and at work we have used similar with children who chew - as recommended bny the school OT. PJ is a chewer too, so I am looking for ideas as the months go by. You could ask at school too and see if they have any ideas or resources available?

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    1. School are pretty pathetic to be honest. He doesn't chew at school, only at home, and what school don't see, they don't really want to know about or do anything about.
      But as this increases I definitely need something like a chewy stick or some of the other things that people have suggested for him x

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  8. Katie is a hair and finger chewer. Drives me nuts (especially after watching Greys Anatomy last night and seeing a surgery where they removed a giant hair ball!). We're working on the nail biting with some of that disgusting stuff (she even chews her toe nails!). I tie her hair back a lot of the time to prevent her chewing it but she manages to find a way. I feel for you with the gooey headless toys. I remember Supernanny having a case once where she had a child who was chewing and she gave them a soft makeup brush to brush over her face and bring in a nice sensation. How about something like that? xx

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    1. I'm a former nail chewer :-( The Nailstop stuff never helped me, but I wish you good luck with it.
      Mini is quite sensitive to touch, and so I'm not sure the brush would help. He really does seem to need *something* in his mouth.

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  9. I've got a chewer too - aged 9. I won't offer up more solutions as you've got lots but agree with all the above that there's no point trying to fight the chew (although he says he's given up toenails for lent) just keep offering up things he's allowed to chew. Hoping he'll grow out of it one day...

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    1. Thanks for commenting. Toenails for lent hey? That's an interesting one ;-)

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  10. Hello there :) BB still has problems putting small things in her mouth to chew especially when anxious ( and she's now 18)....we tried different healthy chewy or crunchy things but she seemed to like to bite down on something. She had a dogs toy rubber ring at one time!!
    I love that your gathering people together results in such great sharing, support and useful information.
    Xxxx

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    1. Thanks Amanda. I'm so grateful for everyone's ideas and links. I could spend an age researching different products on the internet, but there's nothing like recommendations and suggestions from others who have been through it (or are still going through it).

      As an ex nail-biter I also chew sometimes when worried, and so I expect it occasionally, but of course Mini is anxious *all* the time, so chews a lot. I think I'd just hope to initially get him onto appropriate chew things, then cut down eventually. So it's great to have some starting points.

      xxx

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