Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chewy Tubes for Oral Stimulation, Speech, and Eating

It has been nearly a year to the date since Ellie was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.  In the past year, we have tried just about every chewy tube known to mankind and I have learned many things:

1. Chewy Tubes come in various shapes, textures, diameters, and firmness.
2. Chewy Tubes help satisfy oral seeking behaviors.  There will be good mouthing days and bad mouthing days.
3. Chewy Tubes are also for those with oral aversion--start with the smallest diameter chew and work your way up.  Start smooth, then add textured bumps.
4. Chewy Tubes can help jaw gradation and therefore speech development.
5. Chewy Tubes can help in eating--with chewing and biting.


Silly Ellie! Chewing on your foot does not count as a "socially acceptable" chew. Eh, being socially acceptable is truly over-rated.  Embrace your uniqueness, show off your flexibility, and chew away!


This post is not to advertise any particular product or seller, but to rather share the various types of chewy tubes that we use with Ellie regularly.   If any maker or seller of chewy tubes would like to send us a free tube as a "thank you" for the free advertising, Ellie would graciously accept!

Many of your know that Ellie is a sensory seeker and tends to mouth (and climb) everything.  Shoes, toys, crayons (especially the red ones), playground mulch, etc. Sadly, it does occasionally impact her ability to learn and play.  She is so focused on satisfying that oral craving that she cannot remove the toy from her mouth to play with it.  Ellie cannot develop a good grasp on a crayon, marker, or chalk because she is munching on it. Here are where the chewy tubes come in.  While gnawing on a chew tube, Ellie is able to focus on her occupational therapy tasks.  She is able to color. She does not get in trouble at the gym daycare for chewing on other kids' toys/shoes/artwork. Chewy tubes satisfy Ellie's oral cravings, but they can also be used to stimulate a certain area of the mouth to help with chewing or to help with sound development.  We use the chew to massage the insides of her gums or we place it along the upper alveolar ridge behind her front teeth encourage her tongue to touch the top of her mouth (this is for forming "n" and "t" sounds).  These tubes can also be instrumental in helping children over come oral aversions.

Throughout the day, I show Ellie the stash of chews and she selects the one that she is in need of.  Many of these can be found on Amazon by searching for "chewy tube" and some can be found on many Autism websites such as National Autism Resources.  Plus, added bonus, the very last one can be found at Lowe's or Home Depot for just cents!



The P-Tube or The Grabber
P & Q Chew

The Grabber

This particular chew is solid unlike many of the other chews marketed.  Consequentially, it is the firmest.  The curved portion of the P allows for an easy grip, even among those children with delayed fine motor skills.  These tubes can be smooth or bumpy.  Ellie prefers the bumpy (we had the Grabber). The bumpy one has different types of textures on all sides.  I have not been able to find replacements online, but there are pre-flavored P-Tubes in orange and in grape.  Ellie received her orange one from her speech therapist, but sadly it is caught behind a drain at the 24-Hour Fitness Kids Club.  If you child has oral aversion, try buying the smooth P-Tube first as she may be more tolerant.  Then you can build up to the bumpy one.



The T-Tube is currently Little Bear's favorite.  We have the red one and it is by far the firmest of all of her hollow chews.  The red one is also smooth, but if your kiddo needs an extra sensory stimulation boost, the green one is knobby.  Not only do these bad boys satisfy oral seeking behaviors (or help with oral aversion) they also help jaw mobility for the development of biting and chewing. Ellie will chew on all ends of the T-Tube, but technically the long portion of the T is meant to go into the mouth.  The tube is short enough that the risk for jabbing it into the back of the throat and causing all sorts of nasty bleeding is minimal.  I do allow Ellie to run around with this particular chew unlike I do with the toothbrush or food-grade tubing. 






The Tri-Chew is also another favorite in our household.  Each side is a different diameter and its main purpose is for jaw gradation.  Essentially this chew helps promote jaw stability which in turn will add in the production of sounds.  The textured sides are supposed to, in theory, mimic chewing textures of food. This particular chewy tube has the most "give" or should I say the "chewiest" in our entire arsenal.  The shape of this tube, like the P-Tube is easy for young children and those with fine motor delays to hold independently. Another added bonus to the Tri-Chew is the decreased choking hazard.  I will allow Ellie to run around with this one in her mouth. 






We actually do not use jigglers, but rather a vibrating toothbrush.  This little vibrating bits of cuteness are quite pricey at around $28, but they do serve multiple purposes.  If you decide to purchase one of these vibrating oral stimulators, I suggest the elephant because his ears can also act as a spoon.  Or, you can be cheap like me and use a Thomas the Train (or Dora) toothbrush.  Yes, I do carry a toothbrush in the diaper bag.




Chew Necklace

This little stretchy cord come in a variety of colors and diameters and can serve as necklaces or bracelets. Their main function is to satisfy mouthing.  The necklace is actually marketed for kids who tend to chew on their clothing.  In all practicality, they are better served for older children when you do not have to worry about accidental strangulation due to overzealous use of the chewelry necklace.  Ellie does have a bracelet.  She used to have a necklace.  It is now laying abandoned in the darkened corners of the Lakeline Mall.  While Ellie does chew on the bracelet, she tends to play with it more.  She loves to stretch it as wide as possible and then let go, sending spittle everywhere and the chewelry cord flying.  Note that this is one of those where you can buy it cheaply on Amazon rather then buying the brand-name of Chewelry.  Search term: chewelry





The chew is hanging off of her shirt in this older photo.
As you can see, she is preferring to chew on the camera lens cap. 

This was Ellie's first foray into the chewy tube world.  I purchased this for two reasons: 1. it was cheap and 2. it has a little clip to attach to Ellie's clothing.  It is also my least favorite due to some reasons listed later on.  The Chew-Ease is essentially food grade tubing that has a "chewelry" cord attached to a clip.  Ellie loves the tubing and she loves the chewelry cord.  It is a great little chewy if you have a thrower which is why I purchased it in the first place.  However, I would not want Ellie to have this tube unsupervised given it shape which allows for ramming down the back of the throat or poking out an eye.  Also, the Bear would accidentally step on the tube while its dangling from the collar of her shirt when she bears crawling up stairs.  It would snap back up and whack her in the face.  It took me days to figure out where the strange pattern of bruising came from on her face.  Amazon search term: Chew-Ease




Food Grade Tubing

Yeah, I know, still the chew-ease, BUT the food grade tubing is that clear tube on the end of the blue coiled cord.
Food grade tubing is very similar to what you see with the Chew-Ease.  It is PVC tubing found at Lowes.  It is the cheapest and easiest to replace.  As with many chews, you can vary the firmness.  Typically we buy 1 foot for food grade tubing for $0.29.  See, I said cheap!   I cut it into 3 pieces.  We tend to lose these rather frequently because it is clear and there is the potential for it getting rammed down the throat.


Finally, you can flavor any of these chews to increase oral stimulation.  Slightly moisten the chew tube and roll in dry Crystal Light powder.

It is really beneficial to have a few chews of various diameters and firmness.  On any give day, Ellie may select the chewiest of all them and other days it may be the firmness.  Oral cravings vary by day and therefore having a variety of chews on hand is very beneficial. 

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9 comments:

  1. Sunny is a chewer, do you have any advice for the rash that can develope on the chin? She doesn't always get one but has one now because of her excessive chewing/drooling here lately. I put Aquaphor on it before bed but she still irritates it throughout the day. Thank you for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Casey! I use Vaseline or baby eczema cream throughout the day to create a barrier. Try applying the aquaphor more frequently. Hope this helps.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow...I know you always said she is a chewer but when you list it out like that....

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  4. Kamdyn's ST tried to use a chewy thing in her mouth for oral stim once. It didn't go over very well ; ) And we don't know when Kamdyn's sleep study is yet. We'll have to talk to the ENT more about it when she goes back in 2 weeks to have her ears red-checked.

    ReplyDelete
  5. We are currently trying to get Avery to stop chewing on her hands...mainly her thumb...so we take the red t tube and tell her to bite 10-15 times a couple times a day...We have always did oral stimulation when she was little too...including a Dora toothbrush:)

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  6. Thanks for this nice sharing. chewy tubes is a great medium for improve the biting and chewing skills. These chewy tubes are safe for children.
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  7. Many of the parents use chewy tubes as an oral motor device designed to develop biting and chewing skills of their children. They are safe to use with small children and effective tool that many therapists recommend to treat patients to develop initial oral motor skills.
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