Sensory Chews - What Are They For And How Do I Pick One?
“Sensory Chews are small, chewable, tactile sensory aids that allow children and adults with autism, SPD or sensory needs to chew safely”. With so many options now available we are often asked "how do I pick a Sensory Chew"? To answer this we've put together this quick step by step guide to help you pick the right sensory chew.
Chewing is often a form of self-stimulating behaviour, better known as ‘stimming’, and it’s 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 Stopping this behaviour could cause an individual to become withdrawn or replace one form of stimming with a more harmful, aggressive one.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.
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
At Sensory Direct we 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, so 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.
Step 1: Consider Safety
Safety has got to be the most important factor to consider when selecting your sensory chew. Look for products that are made from appropriate materials, that don’t have protruding parts that are easily bitten off and read the product reviews. Our Chewbuddy™ Range ticks all the boxes when it comes to safety – don’t just take our word for it, take a look for yourself!
Step 2: Consider Chewing Habits
Some of our Sensory Chews are finished in a softer material which wouldn’t be suitable for an aggressive chewer, such as the Chewbuddy™ Tubes. If a stronger, more durable chew is required for an aggressive chewer then look no further than the Chewbuddy™ Super. We haven’t come across a stronger sensory chew anywhere!
Step 3: Consider Textures
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. Try the Chewbuddy™ Monster Skull or Chewbuddy™ Monster Ghost for a chew with a smoother overall texture, or the Chewbuddy™ Disc or Chewbuddy™ Tag for a more textured chew.
Step 4: Consider Weight
This is an important consideration – would the user benefit from some weight? – our Chewbuddy™ Bangles can be worn on the wrist, and when doubled up, provide a comforting weight to the individual.
Step 5: Consider Colour
We have a range of bright primary colours and softer tones to choose from. Our Chewbuddy™ Stickman is also available in light blue and light pink.
Step 6: Consider Age
Some of our Sensory Chews are discreet and more appropriate for young adults or those wanting to wear something more subtle such as the Chewbuddy™ Tag, It’s small, discreet but has plenty of chewing surface and small dimpled edges for sensory feedback.
Step 7: Consider Where It’s Worn
We have Sensory Chews suitable for wearing on a safety lanyard around the neck or on a wrist, like our Chewbuddy™ Disc.
Step 8: Consider Shape
This can also be an important consideration when selecting a Sensory Chew. Our #1 selling Chewbuddy™ Stickman is our most popular sensory chew due to its distinctive shape which is easy to grip and hold. To cater for a range of chewers, this particular chew is available in 2 versions. Chewbuddy™ Stickman is suitable for mild to moderate chewers and the Chewbuddy™ Tuff is the same shape, but harder and with more bite resistance more suited to aggressive chewers.
Step 9: Consider Cleaning
Keeping your sensory chew clean is very important to promote good hygiene – after all they do go in the mouth! To make things simple, all our Chewbuddy™ sensory chews are extremely easy to clean. Simply pop in a dishwasher or steriliser, or even wash in good old hot water and mild soap.
Step 10: Consider Security And Protection
The last thing you want when going out and about is to lose your Sensory Chew. That’s why all of the Chewbuddy’s in our range (except Bangle, Tag and Tubes) come complete with a safety lanyard. Keeping both you and the chew safe*. We also produce a Protective Pouch that fits neatly over the Chewbuddy™ to help keep them safe and away from germs whilst out and about. Perfect for school, walking to the park or even meeting friends.
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 BP).
- 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. Ideal for at school or in public places (purchased separately).
- If you’re still unsure which Sensory Chew to buy or maybe you like the idea of several of them, we offer a great value Chewbuddy™ Selection Starter Jar. Saving 40% on buying each chew individually and complete with a handy storage jar, it contains 8 Chewbuddy’s, a small and large protective pouch and 2 spare safety lanyards.
Looking After Your Sensory Chew
Lastly, although our Chewbuddy™ sensory chews are made from a strong medical grade material, they are not indestructible. Some individuals (particularly those with heavy oral needs and aggressive biting/chewing) may be able to damage the chews. How long they last may depend on the oral sensory needs of the child as well as other variables.
It’s important to regularly check your sensory chew for wear and tear and replace them when necessary to ensure safety. Please always supervise the use of a sensory chew.
So, ready to buy your new Sensory Chew? Check out the Chewbuddy™ range and Selection Jar Starter Kit today. Make sure you add a protective pouch to keep your Chewbuddy™ clean when out and about. Like and follow our Chewbuddy™ Facebook page for the latest Chewbuddy™ news, offers and promotions - #everybodyneedschewbuddy.
*Safety Lanyards should always be used under adult supervision. Please note, a safety release catch at the back of the Safety Lanyard will automatically release if pulled hard.