my 4 year old son is constantly putting things(toys, his hands..etc) in his mouth. even his teachers have told me that they are constantly reminding him of where his hands have been and the germs on them, but he still does it. he does have chronically enlarged tonsils and i'm wondering if throat pain coould be contributing to this bad habit. what i would like to know is, 1-is this normal behavior and 2-what, if anything, i should be doing about it. i have considered using the bitter liquid made to cure nail-biting...
I think this may be an oral sensory issue. My son has sensory processing disorder and his issues include all but the oral and olfactory....funny thing, I just noticed your descriptions sound alot like a sensitivy. I don't think your son is dysfunctional in sensory integration, just sensitive. Here is something for you from www.sensory-processing-disorder.com ......
Children with ORAL HYPOSENSITIVITIES will exhibit many, or all, of the following characteristics:
-they love and crave intense flavors, i.e., sweet, sour, salty, spicy and usually become "condiment kids"
-may actually avoid mixed textures as well since it is difficult to chew and swallow properly when you can't "feel" the food in your mouth correctly
-they are the messy eaters; getting food all over their face and/or leaving bits of food in their mouths at the end of a meal
-they often take large bites and stuff their mouths, or even "pocket" food in their cheeks
-are inclined to not chew their food thoroughly before swallowing (at risk for choking)
-drool excessively beyond the teething stage
-and, they always seem to have something in their mouths; toys, pens, pencil tips, gum, candy, or inedible objects (i.e., paper clips, rubber bands, shirt sleeves and collars, strings...anything!)
When working with these hyposensitive children, you need to:
-give them MORE oral stimulation activities and "appropriate" things to chew on; they will need to chew to feel calm and organized
-give them sensory stimulation activities prior to meals to "wake up" their mouths
-use oral massagers, vibration, and textured materials/objects for stimulation
-use a combination of relaxing input (deep pressure, firm touch) and stimulating input (light, quick strokes)
-choose foods with increased texture, flavor, and temperatures to provide more stimulation
-encourage the child to take different sized bites and have them "feel" the food in their mouth (if old enough have them close their eyes and play guessing games with the food)
-wash and wipe the child's face often during eating with different textured materials (i.e., baby washcloth, napkin, regular washcloth, paper towel with texture to it)
-use the following order for stimulation; start on face with cheeks, jaw, lips, then teeth/gums, inside cheeks, then tip, middle, and sides of tongue, then the roof of the mouth
Above all, remember that children with oral sensitivities, whether hypo- or hyper- sensitive, will need specific treatment and oral stimulation activities by a knowledgeable therapist. Make sure you consult one if you are concerned about any signs of oral difficulties / oral sensitivities with your child.
P.S. By therapist, I'm sure they mean Speech or Occupational Therapy. My son had Speech Therapy as an infant for choking and stuff, he had low muscle tone and weak reflex.....So, I assume a speech pathologist would be the better help here. (((Raynbow
Do you have plans to have his tonsils removed? Chronically enlarged tonsils cause all kinds of difficulties - they make the kids "mouth breathe" and they supress appetite so kids don't grow as rapidly. They interfere with sleep, and cause general discomfort and supress the immunie system.
Maybe once his tonsils are removed you'll see less of this oral stimulation.
thanks so much.. i had never heard of this condition before, but he does/did many of these things. wow! regarding the tonsils, he has an appt. with a pediatric ear/nose/throat dr. next week. i am leaning towards having them removed.
another note...when he was a baby he had an OVER-sensitive gag-reflex. any new texture would make him vomit, as would post-nasal drip, a hard cough, bad flavor or a good cry. i attributed his food-pocketing and not-chewing to the vomiting. i thought that maybe he didn't care for the sensation of swallowing. as a result, he developed a less-than-ideal relationship with food and is in the 5th %-tile for weight.
My son (3) has sensory processing problems too (along with some other medical issues), we had and still do have problems with his eating. He cannot stand mixed textures, gaging and chocking if soft wet foods such as meat pasta and veggies are not mashed or finely chopped to an even texture. He does better with thing such as toast, crackers, peices of fruit (harder things with more texture). He puts everything in his mouth, drools alot too and often ends up vomitimg when coughing or crying. He dropped to below the 5th centile for weight at the start of this year. We have had to go back to giving him mashed foods 3 time a day in order to get calories into him, after meals and at snack time we give him harder chewables to practice his eating skills. He also see's a speech therapist, feeding and swallowing specialists and we are awaiting an assesment with an occupational therapist. It can be quite scary to think your child has a 'dissorder' but once you find out you can be much better equiped with dealing with it. When my son was diagnosed and I read up on the subject it was like someone had switched on a light! Now I can understand the problems my son has I am much better equiped to deal with them. Best wishes to you.
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