Chewing, COVID 19 And The Correct Sensory Chew
What Is ‘Stimming’?
Self-stimulating behaviour, better known as ‘stimming’ is something that we all do to some extent. Biting nails, twirling hair, chewing gum and cracking knuckles are all types of stimming. Those living with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorders display more frequent and sometimes dangerous forms of stimming. These can also cause physical or emotional harm. Examples of ‘harmless’ repetitive behaviours are flapping of hands, rocking, pulling hair, repetitive words and bouncing. More harmful behaviours can include head banging, scratching, chewing or biting.
Should Stimming Be Stopped?
It’s important to note that stimming is not behaviour to stop. It’s important for self-regulation and essential for releasing stress. Stopping this behaviour could cause an individual to become withdrawn, or replace one form of stimming with a more harmful, aggressive one. What’s key is to find the trigger for the behaviour, and introduce tools to help make the stimming safer and in some cases less frequent.
Stimming And COVID 19
Stimming is often a reaction to a stressful or distressing situation. With the rise of COVID 19 we have all experienced heightened levels of stress and for some, emotionally upsetting times. For those living with Autism and SPD, the sudden lack of structure, routine and familiarity has been abruptly replaced with the unknown. This has unsurprisingly resulted in increased stimming.
One form of stimming that may have increased during COVID 19 lockdown is chewing. Either chewing items of clothing such as ‘cuffs’ or sleeves and toys, or more damaging items such as fingers, nails or inanimate objects such as chair and table legs.
What Can I Do To Help?
The question asked from many parents/carers faced with this situation is – what can we introduce to encourage safer, less aggressive chewing? The answer, as recommended by many Occupational Therapists can be found in the form of Sensory Chews. As parents ourselves, we can happily concur with the results of a carefully selected, safe Sensory Chew! There are lots of Sensory Chews available on the market, but what’s important to remember is every child/adult is different and has different ‘chew needs’.
How To Select The Right Sensory Chew
Sensory Direct have a complete range of Sensory Chews called ‘Chewbuddy’. These are suitable for children and adults from mild to aggressive chewers. We understand that there is no ‘one-fits-all’ when it comes to Sensory Chews. We offer a complete range of varying strengths, colours, shapes and even some that provide additional sensory feedback. There’s something for everyone.
To choose the correct Sensory Chew, we recommend the following steps;
- Consider the chewing habits of the individual. Some of our Sensory Chews are finished in a softer material which wouldn’t be suitable for an aggressive chewer.
- Does the individual respond better to certain textures? We have a range of Sensory Chews with different finishes such as smooth, dimpled or ridged – great for additional Sensory feedback
- Weight is also an important consideration – some of our Sensory Chews can be worn on the wrist, and when doubled up, provide a comforting weight to the individual
- Colour – we have a range of bright primary colours and softer tones to choose from
- Age – Some of our Sensory Chews are discreet and more appropriate for young adults or those wanting to wear something more subtle
- Consider where the Sensory Chew will be worn – we have Sensory Chews suitable for wearing on a safety lanyard around the neck or on a wrist
Selecting A Safe Sensory Chew
Safety is of great importance to us, so all our Chewbuddy Sensory Chews are;
- Tested for compliance with all relevant safety standards (including phthalates and BPA)
- Made from medical grade materials – NO phthalates, PVC, BPA or Latex (so safe to chew)
- CE Marked (quality assurance)
- Suitable for cleaning in a steriliser or dishwasher
- Come with a safety lanyard so the Chewbuddy can be worn safely around the neck
- Compatible with a ‘protective pouch’ to keep the Chewbuddy clean and away from germs whilst out and about, at school or in public places (purchased separately)