Does your child have oral issues that relate to his autism?
I may have briefly discussed oral-related issues at various times in previous blogs, even in my last blog, but I feel it’s an important topic so I’m writing some more.
Oral autism-related issues still affect my child with autism and he’s now ten years old. Additionally, there have been plenty of times that his oral issues have affected his behavior.
However, I can also say that I believe oral issues in children with autism come and go. At least, that has been the case with my child. And, I mean this over the course of years. My child would need to chew on something for months, and then the issue would disappear for a year. And, this pattern has been ongoing since he was about three (he’s now ten).
What are oral issues?
Oral issues are physical issues that relate to the mouth area. This may include a child’s teeth, lips, tongue, and gums. In my child’s case, he also seems to have issues with the area between the bottom of his nose and the top of his upper lip.
Something in that particular area of the body bothers our kids. It may sometimes bother them so much that it leads to behaviors. If may affect their mood and may even lead to meltdowns.
Or, they can cause stress or anxiety.
What causes the problems?
I am not a clinician or a behavioral specialist, but in my experience oral issues like dry lips or the dislike of certain food textures can cause a child to stim or cause a negative behavior.
What I’ve observed is the child is so distracted by whatever it is in that particular area that they obsess over it. They fuss with their mouth, lips, or whatever is causing the discomfort.
Something bothers them so much they can’t focus on anything else.
What will they do?
I have seen kids chew on their shirt, chew on a toy or a book, or even chew on their fingers.
What can we do to help?
I have mentioned some remedies in the past. A child can chew gum or gummy bears or a chewy T to help them feel better.
My child also makes a buzzing noise when he runs or rides the Razor which I believe creates a kind of vibration inside his mouth. I believe he’s helping his oral issues by making these noises.
Our kids need to find a reasonable way of dealing with oral issues. They can’t simply chew on an eraser at school because their mouth bothers them. That’s not a healthy option.
Oral-related issues in autistic kids are common and we need to help them deal with their issues and also how to help themselves. We want to avoid negative behaviors.
For example, whenever my child makes his noises at school with ask the aide to remind him to try not to draw that kind of attention to himself. At home, in the backyard, that’s fine. But, he’s at the age where he needs to start to recognize his environment as a place that’s okay to do certain things or NOT okay.
He has permission from the school (written into his IEP) to chew gum or gummy bears during class. That type of arrangement is helpful to my child and less distracting. He can focus better and avoids behaviors associated with oral issues.
What other oral issues are there?
In my next blog, I’ll talk about yet another oral-related issue that some kids have, finger licking.
To Find Kimberly Kaplan:
www.smashwords.com or Amazon Kindle ebook “A Parents’ Guide to Early Autism Intervention”