Friday, August 11, 2017

{7} Tips for Chewers!

Do you have students in your classroom that are always seeking items to put in their mouth for oral motor sensory? Do you have students who are always grinding their teeth? --Ugh. Just typing that made my skin crawl.

I've had students who grind their teeth non-stop and students who are chewing on whatever they can get their hands on. I've been so thankful that I've never had to worry about a student swallowing any item they were chewing-- they were just seeking the chewing, but it is still a real safety concern.

It's important we find appropriate replacements to fulfill this need for our students in a safe way so they aren't risking accidentally choking on a pencil eraser because they've gnawed it off their pencils.

Your occupational therapist at school can be a great resource when it comes to this type of stuff, but I've put together a list of items to look into that have worked for me in the classroom. Amazon links are affiliate links.

1. Ps & Qs!
Yes, that's what they're called. I've personally never had a student use a Q, but have had quite a few with the P chews. This is a great place to start for a student who is grinding their teeth or frequently biting on classroom materials. From here you can find different shapes/textures/strengths for students.

2. Chewy Tubes & Ark Grabbers
Chewy tubes come in different sizes, textures and colors. They are a hallow tube so the input they give is different than if you offered a solid chew like the Ps and Qs or Ark Grabbers. The Ark Grabbers come in tough strengths which are great for those super hard chewers/grinders.

3. Chewlry
There are SO many options for chewlry to use. They are mostly solid chews and come in all different shapes and sizes to meet students needs. The variety of choices you have for these can work out if you're looking for something age appropriate for a student. It might be easier to find a shape they can wear that doesn't stand out as much as carrying around a grabber or a P & Q.,vw:g&tbm=shop&ei=KrKNWabAFcvgmwG965-4CA&ved=0ahUKEwim_drepc_VAhVL8CYKHb31B4cQvQ0InAI

4. Pencil Toppers
These work great for older students who are frequently sitting and using writing materials. You can place them on the back of their pencil so they can chew on that item instead of the end of their pencil. These comes in all different shapes and sizes as well. Again, some more age appropriate than others depending on the age of your student.

5. Hoodie Chews
I've personally never used these in my classroom, but recently found them and think they are GENIUS! How many of us know a student who chews on their clothing/sweat shirt strings?! I love this one the most for it's blending in factor. You can easily put these on the ends of the sweat shirt strings and if they are the same color as the string they aren't really going to stand out as much. You can easily put a sweatshirt on a student who is chewing on their shirt collar (temperature permitting) and this would allow a more appropriate chewing option. The only website I've been able to find them from is in the UK.

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6. Chewease Tubes
These are clear tubes that students can chew on. Again, these don't really stand out too much which is nice. You can find them with a closed end to help avoid spit collection -- gross, but we do what our students need, right? I've also heard teachers mention that you can purchase aquarium tubing for this same purpose and it's very cheap. I've never used this myself. Honestly, I'm not positive of the safety concerns with that option-- is it non-toxic? Appropriate for mouthing? -- so I tend to stick to what I know is.

7. Chew Buddy
These are great for holding on to certain chew items. You can clip them, hang them, and can help with not losing them or mixing them up with other students. I thought they were worth sharing along with the suggestions above.

Any pitfalls to these options?

Well yes, there are a few things to take into consideration when looking for the right chew for your student/child. My biggest thing is age appropriateness. Make sure what you are choosing is as age appropriate as you can get to meet your students needs.

The next thing is sanitary needs. We all know these things can get gross. Especially the open tube options. I try to steer away from open items as much as possible because they collect spit. Most often students who really need their chews are good about keeping them with them because they need it and enjoy the input they get. But it's still important to keep tabs on where chews are, what surfaces they have touched and if more than one student has one, making sure they don't get mixed up!

I hope these are suggestions that have sparked your interest to look into further! Again, I am NOT an occupational therapist and they are great resources when it comes to these items! If you see something on this list that you like and think will work for your student/child, talk to your OT! Get their opinions too!


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