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Chewing On Things That Aren't Food

Posted by on Mar. 28, 2011 at 7:58 PM
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My 6 year old son has autism.  He is non-verbal and either doesn't understand a lot of what we are saying to him or he is VERY good at pretending.  He is awesome and sweet (so don't think I am saying these things to be mean) but it is very hard to get him to understand.  Anyway, the point is...he is eating his clothes.  Literally knawing on his neckline until it looks like I laced it with cheese and left it in a rat trap.  He just started doing this in the last 6 months.  I thought at first it was because he had some loose teeth but those are long gone and he is still doing it.  And it isn't just his shirts (although that is his favorite) it is also sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, socks (not always clean...ew).  So, does anyone else have any experience with this in their autistic child and if so are there any suggestions to save his clothing?  He is eating his way through his wardrobe and I can't imagine it is good for him.  Thanks.

by on Mar. 28, 2011 at 7:58 PM
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Replies (1-10):
pomeroyz
by New Member on Mar. 28, 2011 at 9:31 PM

We have a speech/feeding therapist that ordered something called "chewlery" it a necklace and bracelet they can wear so when they start to chew you put it in their mouth and hope they start chewing on it instead.  My daughter doesn't like to wear it but when she starts chewing on something she shouldn't (usually furniture) we give it to her and sometimes she will chew on it instead.  Good luck! 

mrs.wondergem
by on Mar. 28, 2011 at 9:53 PM

We have this same problem and I feel for you.  I never heard of the chewing necklaces but I used to give him rolled up wash cloths to chew on instead of his clothes.  Some times it worked some times it didn't .  He still chews his neckline occasionally (maybe once or twice per week) but usually just when over stimulated.  Or OT recommended a vibrating toothbrush to chew on.  That didn't really work for us but maybe it would help you little guy.  Good luck!!

Kate00
by Member on Mar. 29, 2011 at 7:31 AM

My son, who just turned 3, just started doing it.  Clothing and blankets.  When I'm getting him dressed, he'll lean over and bite the shirt on my shoulder and sometimes get me too - ouch!  One thing that we are going to try is experimenting with having him eat different textures - crunchy and chewy (like licorice).  Not sure if it is going to work - we'll see!  I'm interested to see some of the other responses since we have the same problem.

 

mrsbailey05
by Member on Mar. 29, 2011 at 7:37 AM
My son did this with books! He now will chew on his neckline but likes to suck on it more.
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twins0506
by Member on Mar. 29, 2011 at 1:02 PM

my son does the same thing. we were going to order him the chewlery but i know he wouldnt wear the necklace. so i ordered him the grabber. heres a link in case you dont know what they are.

http://www.nationalautismresources.com/oral-motor.html

stillstandin246
by Member on Mar. 30, 2011 at 2:18 PM

 I know exactly what you mean. My 6 yr old is verbal but its also hard to get her to understand and I frequently have to remind her "not to eat that", she used to eat paper and stuff.  She sucks and chews on her necklines and sleeves and her therapist tells me its when she's overwhelmed more than usual.  Her teachers have suggested crunchy foods, maybe gum (I don't give her gum), things that she has to chew that are supposed to be chewed.  Its frustrating that's for sure!

willsmomstacie
by Bronze Member on Mar. 30, 2011 at 4:49 PM

 Oh, yes, the goat-boy syndrome.  We had that here too.  For my son, it was as simple as a zinc deficiency.  He is on a maintenance dose of 60 mg a day.  If I drop the zinc, goat-boy returns.  Keep the zinc and we have pretty shirt collars. :)

My son never wanted the chewelry...he wanted the taste of poly/cotton blend or matchbox tires.

mrs.wondergem
by on Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Wow....thanks for the tips ladies.....I will have to look into the zinc...do you give it in a liquid form or pill???  And as for the chewlery I am gonna order one too just to see if it will help.....willing to try anything!!!!

willsmomstacie
by Bronze Member on Mar. 30, 2011 at 7:35 PM

We use capsules from http://www.kirkmanlabs.com/ broken open into an oral syringe and diluted with water.  But there are liquid zinc options too.

JenJenPBBM
by Member on Mar. 31, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Thank you for the great suggestions.  How did you know that your son had a zinc deficiency and what dose to give him?  Also, how did you know that the zinc deficiency is what was causing him to chew on clothing?  I'm curious how this works. :)

I will probably try the chewlery also but I have a feeling he isn't going to like it.  Mostly because it wasn't his idea.

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