Monday, February 20, 2012

Special Needs: Why do kids put things in their mouth?

There are different reasons why children put things in their mouth: 

1. If they are chewing it, they may be seeking proprioception input. So if you take it away, their central nervous system will find another way to get its proprioception input.

2. If they are sucking it, they may be seeking tactile input...

3. There are also the PICA kids. If there is a mineral missing in their diet (for whatever reason), then you may see your "woodsy kids" which are kids to put in their mouths things like, clothes, paper, sometimes shoes, sometimes dirt, the list goes on and on. And their are your metallic kids which are kids who put metal-like objects in their mouth like zippers, door knobs, etc...

So the bigger question, is what else does the child do. We can never just look at one thing. If they are a seeker, they will seek out more than orally whether its proprioception or tactile. Use a whole body approach. Are they a picky eater, are there any subtle medical issues (i.e. history of subtle digestive issues, etc). Sometimes the othe signs are obvious and somtimes you'll see more subtle signs. I hope this helps. 

From a sensory integration point of view, there may be an increase in oral seeking if the child isn't getting enough vestibular stimulation. Try incorporating more vestibular throughout their day. It may also be a good idea to track what he's doing when there is an increase in the oral needs and mouthing, there maybe something in the environment triggering him or her.  

Any more ideas?  Please share. 

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