Do you notice that your child seeks out intense flavors, temperatures or smells? Or maybe your child doesn’t chew food consistently or maybe not much at all, pocketing food in their mouth or even swallowing food semi-whole? Does your child chew on non-edible items often (pencils, erasers, shirt sleeves and collars, etc)?
If some of the above are things are happening, your child is likely seeking oral sensory stimulation and may be hypo-sensitive to oral input. This does not mean that your child has a sensory processing disorder (this condition must be diagnosed by an OT professional), but it could mean that your child is seeking oral sensory input and is a sensory seeker.
Kids chewing on shirts, hoodie cords, pens and pencils is quite common. Chewing is a calming activity and chewing provides great satisfaction and movement. Perhaps your child will grow out of this phase or can be offered an alternative such as chewing gum.
However, in many cases, the need for oral stimulation is stronger, does not just go away and needs to be addressed with more appropriate chewing tools. Your OT professional can help guide you and your child in looking at better alternatives to chewing on shirts, pens, pencils, and other undesirable items. It is also possible that chewing will continue to be a need that potentially continues into their teens or beyond. If this is the case, you can save your child a lot of grief from chewing on clothing, fingers, fingernails, pens and other inappropriate items and offer your child a better chewing alternative that is safer and more discreet.
Chewing is a natural and common way for kids to calm themselves. If you notice that your child is chewing (or even destroying) inappropriate objects or chewing on their hands or fingers, they are seeking oral sensory stimulation and may really benefit from a chewing tool that is more appropriate and socially acceptable.
Here is a new chew alternative from chubuddy that is super fun to chew, durable and really discreet- it is connectrd to the cord ends of hoodies-
Chubuddy Cord Zilla: