As babies, it is essential that we explore our environment with every possible sense we have. Touch things, look at things, smell things, hear things, and of course…. taste things. Infants are often caught with all kinds of things in their mouths!
As we learn and grow, we are soon taught what to, and what not to put in our mouths. Some children with sensory processing challenges may seek out extra sensory input to help them regulate their bodies. One form of sensory seeking behaviour can utilise our Oral (mouth) sense. Often this is seen in children who are always chewing on their pencil, collar of their shirt, hair, fingers, or anything else nearby!
For some, this may even mean eating – actually consuming and swallowing – non-food items. If this is extreme and persistent, please seek medical advice as your child may have symptoms of pica.
Children who are sensory seeking should ultimately be seen by a professional Occupational Therapist to ensure that their sensory needs are being met. If your child truly has sensory processing challenges than this needs to be addressed by a professional.
There are many ways to help your sensational child seek out oral input in a socially acceptable way.
Try the following:
If your child requires further assistance to help support their chewing and mouthing behaviours, then your best bet is to call an occupational therapist. They specialise in sensory processing challenges such as oral motor seeking behaviours.