How can I increase my autistic child’s communication? I get asked this question over and over again. One of the most important ways to increase speech and communication in children with special needs is to decrease mouthing behavior. “Mouthin behavior” includes chewing items, licking items, holding objects in the mouth. The list goes on and on. Children with autism, as well as with a variety of other special needs, often have many sensory seeking behaviors, including mouthing objects.
Mouthing behaviors can get you down. Some kids are chewers. Parents of these children are often at a loss because their kids’ clothing, therapeutic materials, toys and sometimes even shoes (!) have holes in them because of their children’s incessant chewing. These same parents who need help decreasing their children’s mouthing behavior are often the same parents that are asking the all-important question, “how can I increase my autistic child’s communication?”
During my family coaching sessions, I get asked a lot of questions. Many have to do with increasing behaviors (teaching new vocabulary and boosting functional communication, increasing social interaction, having more fun at home) and some have to do with decreasing behavior (less hitting, fewer tantrums and less repetitive behavior).
In addition to “How can I increase my autistic child’s communication?”, one of the questions I get asked most frequently is “how on earth do I decrease mouthing behavior?”.
The struggle is real.
There is no one size fits all answer when it comes to children with special needs. In order to give a complete answer to this question, I have to work with the family to conduct a functional analysis of the behavior so that I can understand the function (or functions) of the behavior and create a specially adapted program for that particular child.
Although every child is different and each adapted program is tailored to the specific child’s needs, I can recommend a wonderful therapeutic tool that helps to decrease chewing behavior, and consequently, increase functional communication : the chewy.
If you haven’t heard of it, it will change your life! (*wink*)
It is sturdy and durable. It helps your little one get the sensory input he or she is most likely seeking by chewing on things in his or her environment. If the function of the behavior is sensory seeking, the chewy will replace the chewing behavior.
“If the function of the behavior is sensory seeking, the chewy will replace the chewing behavior.”
You can have the chewy available for your little one and give it to him or her when the chewing behavior starts (as a replacement tool). You can also have the chewy available so that your child doesn’t need to chew on others things in the first place and can just reach for the chewy directly when the desire to chew sets in.
Learn more about chewy tubes by watching this video from the inventor herself :
If you have questions about how to use a chewy to help decrease your child’s chewing behavior, please write them in the comments section below!
I would also LOVE to hear about your experience with chewies if you have used them in the past.
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