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Choosing Sensory Chew Toys for Children with Autism

Since there is such a variety of chewable toys on the market, you have the ability to choose based on your child's preferences. So, how should you go about choosing the best chewable toy for your child?

Consider your child’s:

  • Age and developmental stage. If your child is particularly young, or does not have the social skills of their peers, opt for a personal toy the child keeps on their person; for instance, a chewable necklace or bracelet.
  • Chewing habits. Some children will chew aggressively using their strong back teeth, while others will chew more gently or suck on the toy. Be sure to choose a chewable that can withstand your child's strength and chewing habits (e.g. tougher/thicker silicone for aggressive chewers).
  • Sensory needs. Is your child looking for more sensory input or for a way to calm down and self-soothe? If so, look for chewables with different textures, or those that provide deep pressure input.
  • Preferences. By paying close attention to your child, you can tell which colors, textures, and objects they gravitate towards. Use this information to guide your choices when selecting a chewable toy.

While guides like this one are a great place to start, keep in mind that your best bet is to get to know your child and their unique needs before making a purchase. The toy should be practical, but of equal importance is your child's enjoyment; after all, the goal is for your child to have fun while improving their sensory processing skills!

Tips for Choosing and Maintaining Sensory Toys

For parents of children with autism, finding the right sensory toy can be a game-changer. Not only do these toys provide much-needed sensory input, but they can also offer a sense of calm and peace for children who are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Here are a few tips to help guide your search:

  • Avoid cheap alternatives. When it comes to sensory toys, you get what you pay for. Cheap knock-offs may seem like a good deal at first, but they will likely contain BPA (an endocrine disruptor) and other harmful chemicals. Furthermore, they are likely to break easily, which can pose a choking hazard for children with autism who tend to chew on their toys.
  • Set up a cleaning schedule. Most sensory toys have instructions on how to clean them, but some will require more care than others. For example, those made with natural materials like wood or wool may need to be spot-cleaned more often. In general, it's a good idea to have a regular cleaning schedule for all of your child's sensory toys to prevent the build-up of bacteria and dirt.
  • Choose longer toys if the child chews at the back of their mouth; otherwise, they may not be able to reach the toy with their teeth. Shapes like cylinders and spheres work well for children who chew in the front of their mouth.
  • Select a variety of textures to provide different sensory experiences. This could include smooth, bumpy, soft, hard, etc.
  • Look for durable materials that can withstand chewing and biting. Chewelry is a great option for strong chewers, as it is made with high-quality silicone that is durable and safe to chew on. It's also more discreet, which is ideal for children who may be self-conscious.

Taking the time to find the right sensory toy for your child can make a world of difference in their life. Not only will they be able to get the sensory input they need, but they will also have a toy that brings them joy and peace.

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