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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Oral Sensory Solutions

Another one of Dovi's biggest sensory issues is oral sensory. At age 4 1/2, he still likes to mouth everything in sight. He is being coached and taught at school to decrease all that, but he is still pretty much at it. He will also eat and chew many things that are not edible such as leaves, sand, play doh, wiki sticks, soap, candles... It's often a challenge to figure out if he's chewing on something edible or whether we have to immediately part his teeth and make him spit out what he's eating. It took a long time for him to stop instantly eating sand when in sandboxes. If I do shaving cream/hair mousse for tactile sensory input, he always mouths some of it and I have to rinse his mouth and warn him again not to eat it. It doesnt' always help. He also loves to eat raw food like rice, farina, oats, spaghetti - anything that can be flung around or broken up.

In addition he is also very sensitive to things like toothaches. Unfortunately he does not tell us when he has a toothache and it's a guessing game. In a future post I will relate the ongoing saga with Dovi's teeth; for now I'll just briefly say that his behavior and mood is very related to having cavities or sensitive teeth - and we don't always figure out that this is driving him for many weeks.

Dovi also went through a phase of biting out of frustration. It was a very difficult phase, as he would bite me, the volunteers, the therapists, anyone who made demands of him or wouldnt give in to his demands. It's extremely frustrating to be unable to express oneself, especially when you're as bright as Dovi and have plans and needs which you can't explain to anyone and have demands made of you which you can't or refuse to meet. B"H that stage has passed for now, but it rears its ugly head every time Dovi makes some cognitive or developmental progress and he becomes more aware of his surroundings and his independence increases.

At school, as well, he tends to mouth the toys and therapy accessories - anything from wooden blocks to the balls in the ball pit to the TheraPutty. They are working on it; I don't know if it's an immature form of exploration or he just feels the need for oral sensory input. At home I am finding less instances of him mouthing toys or inedibles - it happens mostly out on the street or at school - and therefore I have very few oral sensory solutions I'm still using at home. Here, however, are the oral sensory stimulators / solutions I used in the past and still rely on infrequently.


I got two chewy tubes, but somehow Dovi didn't care so much for them. The massaging teether, however, was an absolute hit! I still use that sometimes, if he seems to be a in mouth/teethy kind of mood, or just angry for some reason. It massages his teeth and lips and he can chew down on it.

There are a lot of other oral sensory solutions which other people use and work well for some kids, especially kids who are higher functioning and like to chew on stuff like their collars and cuffs. Chaim did that a lot; the cuffs of almost all of his shirts from a year or two ago are all chewed up and frayed and I couldn't even hand them down to Dovi. I got him chewelry and chewelry cuffs to chew on but obviously he couldn't take it to school so he didn't really get use out of it.

Then there are other vibrating lip stimulators that I've seen speech therapists use in videos. I never looked into it or purchased it because it seemed expensive, but that's something that seems to be pretty effective for some kids.

Finally, there are some homemade sensory solutions too. I had to come up with some creative, cheap solutions and here are some: Dovi loves to rub a peeled, raw carrot back and forth on his teeth. He also loves a whole, unpeeled apple which he can bang against his teeth and sink his teeth into. I bought him sugar-free licorice to chomp on when he felt the need to chew. And oddly enough he absolutely loves frozen food; a block of frozen peas or broccoli is often the best sensory solution when he needs to feel something cold and numbing on his mouth. Sometimes he likes to gnaw on a flexible cold/ice pack as well.

My next and final post on this topic will be tactile sensory solutions, which is more about different solutions we found to Dovi's constant need to touch and smear and throw things about. We havent' perfected it but we're getting there. And with that I will end this series on sensory solutions and return back to the narrative - there is still so, so much to talk about!

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