Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Whole Lotta Mouthing and a Whole New Bag of Tricks

Alright, I am going to tell you something really shocking.  Now sit down and hold onto you hats. . .

Ellie loves to chew on things.

It is a huge, giant shock and I know that you did not see it coming.  I imagine that you were completely blind-sided by this.

Are you calling me mouthy?

Ellie must taste test everything--food, toys, blankie/lovie, clothing, chalk, crayons, paper (she needs the fiber).  Some of these behaviors are typical behaviors of exploring her environment.  The extent of mouthing does affect her learning, speech, playing, and completing a task and therefore it must be addressed in our therapy sessions.

She will  always be a mouther.  So what?  That is what gum is for.  Or the caps of ballpoint pens.  Or nail biting.  Okay, not nail biting.  That is my nasty habit that I have yet to break.

With a warming filter.

My sensory-driven little Bearity Bear is a full blown mouther and that makes speech therapy rather interesting.  It also makes play dates entertaining.  Those rocks on the playground must really good.  Salty.  Indigestible, however.

Think. Out. Side. The. Box.

Got it.

Nope, I do not have it.  I am an in-the-box, detail-oriented, rule-following type of gal.  That is why I need Jan and Kim for guidance.  They think outside the box.  Between the three of us, we can help Bear-Bear learn all while she gets the sensory input that she desperately craves.

My grabby, mouthy Toddler Bear manhandled my glasses one too many times.  These are my new "sexy librarian" glasses as Andrew calls them.  I never would have selected these.  I would have just gone with a pair almost exactly the same as my previous frames.  However, Andrew helped me think outside the box and ta-da! an new look.

I imagine it is really difficult for my sweet Ellie to mimic sounds such as "baaa", "maa", and "puh puh" with a blanket or chewlery shoved in her mouth.  It is also hard to manipulate the toys if a piece is always in her mouth and it is near impossible to sign if her hand is holding said toy/blanket in her mouth as well.  Dilemmas for sure!

Back to outside the box.  There is a lot of trial and error going on in this household.

What works for one child may not work for another.  Find what motivates your child and run with it.  Of course, what motivates her might change frequently.

Here is what is currently working for Ellie Bellie:

Lovie.  Yes, the beloved blanket.  We have four of them.  Previous to her SPD label, Ellie only had her blankie with sleeping, car-rides, and appointments.  Now, they go with us everywhere (not all four, just one). We have discovered that if the blanket is in her mouth, she MIGHT play with a toy or complete a therapy task.  Occasionally, she will use the blanket for pretend play or pointing.  Yes, the blanket communicates for her.  After all, it is communication that we are striving for.

This photo has a cooling filter applied to it.  The other one, a warming filter.  Which do you prefer?

Chewlery.  Food-grade tubing at its greatest.  You can order it cheaply off where it will arrive with the attached cording and clip.  I like this because Ellie tends to throw things when she is done with them.  Now, for a whopping, wallet-emptying $0.26, you can purchase 1 foot of food-grade tubing at Lowes or Home Depot.  I carry ~4inch tube pieces with me every where for emergencies.  It works.  Its cheap.  It is easy to find.  It is dishwasher safe.

Yum Yum!

We also use "The First Years Massaging Action Teether".  My cyber buddy Tiffany recommended this star-shaped biter because Ellie can walk around without choking on it.  It is much much safer than when Ellie runs off with the motorized toothbrush in her mouth.  I actually attached a pacifier clip to it--again the throwing issue.

Look Ma!  Hands free :-)

Now we attend speech therapy and new places with the lovie and chews.  When Ellie goes to mouth a toy, I must silently place chewy in her mouth while removing the toy piece with my other hand.  I must do this every. single. time. during our therapy and organized playing (Hey, sometimes mama has to cook or clean or blog and cannot sit with one-on-one time 24/7 entertaining dear Chick-A-Boom).

Substitute the book for the teether.  This shows her the teether is "acceptable" to chew on.
Repeat.  Multiple times.  Until task is complete.

The swing.  Yes, I know that you cannot chew on a swing.  Occasionally, it is absolutely necessary for Ellie Bear to practice making sounds--imagine that, making noises during speech therapy.  This past Thursday, Kim and I busted into the PT gym.  We placed Ellie in the Little Tykes swing to giver her MOTOR sensory input. While facing Boom-Boom, Kim worked on sound imitation.  My sweet little Bearity Bear performed beautifully.  Again, this is thinking outside the box.

The two-worded book.  Jan has us trying something new since Ellie is starting to show interest in books (aside from eating them).  Each book, no matter what it is about has two words.  The same two words.  For instance, with lift-the-flap books, the words are "open" and "Peekaboo!"  This plays on repetition and expectation.  Ellie will come to expect the same exclamations on each page.  Through repetition, she will perhaps start to "read" to book with me.  Note that these are also touch-N-feel books in which Ellie can receive both motor (opening flaps) and tactile (feeling the bear's fuzzy nose) sensory input.



Now I imagine after this post some of you do not think my little Pumpkin Pie makes noises.  I am going to swiftly debunk that myth.  Ellie Bear is a "talker".  No, she may not be saying words but she babbles and jabbers.  Loudly.  Very loudly.  This is even with the chewy or blanket in her mouth.  Her newest technique is putting a bucket (ie a sand bucket) up to her mouth and talking.  Imagine the sounds!  Ellie also sounds like a Gremlin.   I have no idea how to replicate the jargoned sounds she makes, but it is hilarious. "Feed me and I will multiply!"  I will attempt to video tape it in the near future.

Ahmamamamamah.  Translation: Feed me and I will multiply!



  1. You are learning LOTS, momma! Lily's ST uses the swing in almost every session now. Lily loves it.

    Could Ellie possibly be any cuter...think not. I don't know if I've said this before or not, but Ellie's eyes are gorgeous!!! They remind me of the blue eyes of another little girl I know.

    Said it on FB, but I'll say it are rockin' those sexy librarian glasses!

    Have a lovely week, friend!!

  2. Claire is a chewer too. I keep trying to work on flash cards with her, but they keep ending up in her mouth. I sometimes can get her chewing on something else, but usually she just gets mad at me. :)


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