HELP!!! My 4 Year Old Won't Stop Chewing

Updated on September 30, 2008
E.D. asks from Glen Allen, VA
14 answers

Does anyone know how to get a 4 year old autistic child to stop chewing on things that don't belong in her mouth? I've tried all I know to do. I know she has sensory problems and needs certain sensations to help her through the day, but this is getting out of hand. Any suggestions? Thank you so much.

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone for your help. I'm going to bring it up with her school when I get a chance. We are in the process of moving, so this chewing just might be a nervous habit. I do it too, but I chew on gum. I'll have to get her some. Right after we move, I'll talk to her new Pediatrician to see if we can get her some OT.

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J.P.

answers from Washington DC on

E.,
My son, almost 4, mildly on the spectrum, did best when we replaced his behaviors with others that were more acceptable. Keep things around that he loves, that you don't mind him putting in his mouth. (he will outgrow the behavior itself, Alex has had many odd behaviors that have come and gone: he isn't bothered by them, we are!) He will be safer, with things around that he can safely put in his mouth, just be patient as this behavior starts to fade away. In the meantime, try to find more acceptable rituals for him. For example, he has an obsession with his hands that is pretty bad; he also has a fascination for letters. We are teaching him the sign language alphabet - at least he can use that someday!
Good luck, I know how hard it is.
Jessie
[email protected]____.com

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Y.C.

answers from Washington DC on

I have 2 sons that are autistic and I used to go through this with my oldest. Good news is she will grow out of that. The bad news is we never found a miracle cure to stop the chewing. Our OT suggested this chewing necklace that he would wear around his neck and chew on that whenever he had the sensation. It looked like a doggy chew toy :(

You may want to do a google search for OT products because they did have a lot of different products for us to try.

Good luck!

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K.K.

answers from Washington DC on

Try www.beyondplay.com or www.pfot.com. They have lots of oral motor things for chewing and texture seeking. My daughter would always steal my baby's toothbrush. She'd put it on her finger and chew on that and the soft bristles gave her the texture she wanted.

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K.L.

answers from Norfolk on

maybe a special teething toy she can keep around her wrist w/ a velcro strap and each time you see her chewing on other things offer her the special toy. i dont know if she will eventually pick it up on her own though.

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K.B.

answers from Washington DC on

For oral motor things - try http://www.speechbin.com/. Our daughter had an oral motor sensory issue and we ordered things from here - chewy tubes, etc. that she could chew on - when she put something in her mouth, we would offer her these instead - she soon learned what was appropriate for mouthing/chewing on. This was recommended by her speech therapist and the PIE program in Prince William County.

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J.W.

answers from Norfolk on

I have no idea but I would ask your doctor

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C.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Sometimes children chew on things when they are deficient in a particular nutrient, especially one or more minerals. You might consider trying a chewable low-dose multi-mineral for kids, or a vitamin-mineral drink. (Something tells me the chewable will be fine). I know there are lots of other reasons this could be happening and you never know, this might help right away.

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B.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi E.,

Do you have a Child Find/Infants & Toddlers program in your school system? They were extremely helpful when we were trying to figure out how to raise our deaf/adhd/aspergers son. They can advise you on the best ways to deal with sensory issues. Call Board of Ed in your county and check it out. You should get hooked up with them anyway. They will be a great help in preparing your child for school. Good luck to you!

Janet

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K.P.

answers from Washington DC on

I don't know if the goal is to stop the chewing, but to direct it to something that is more appropriate. Occupational Therapy catalogs have items that you can use for chewing. Maybe that would be easier. . . to have just a couple of items that are allowed to be chewed. Then she could learn what is ok to chew and what is not.

Good luck

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S.M.

answers from Washington DC on

My three year old chews on washcloths. She has been diagnosed as developmentaly delayed but we are starting to think it could be autism. When she has the urge to chew, she goes to the kitchen and gets a washcloth and asks me to get it wet. When she's done chewing, she put it in her clothes hamper.

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P.K.

answers from Norfolk on

I have seem lots of info on giving your child good EFA esential fatty acids and how they help these kids.
Smart Balance makes a peanut butter that has some of those good fats!!
God Bless

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L.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Have you tried getting her things that she can chew like chewelery or P's and Q's? Also, have you considered taking her to an occupational therapist who works with sensory issues? It sounds like she needs the oral stimulation you just need to be able to provide her with things that you want her to chew on.

Hope this helps

S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

Perhaps you can try giving her sugar-free gum to chew on instead? Or healthy snacks like carrots, celery, etc.

Hope you find a solution soon =)

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D.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

I don't have any experience with an autistic child but I do have a child that loves to chew on things. I bought her some hankerchiefs and she calls them her chewies and she chews on those all of the time. I have to give her about 2 of them a day b/c they get gross but it prevents her from chewing on other things like her blankets etc.

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