25+ Chew Toys for Teens and Adults With Autism [Oral Sensory]

life skills special education teachers teaching experience transition May 20, 2024
Chew Toys for Teens and Adults with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder

As a special education transition teacher for young adults with the highest support needs, it wasn't uncommon for me to find a few chewies around my classroom at the end of the school day. And it is common for students to go through periods of wanting to use a chewie more than others or for some young adults to try different styles and brands of chewies to find just the right fit for their sensory needs.   

 

According to research, there is a high correlation between autism and sensory processing disorder.  Oral stimulation is a specific sensory need for some individuals with autism.  Finding an oral motor tool to meet their unique needs, including being age-respectful and environmentally appropriate (for transportation, representation, and use), can be tough as so much is geared towards the younger population of autistic children.  

 

Having worked with the older population of special needs teens and autistic adults, I know that sensory chew toys can be powerful tools for meeting unique sensory needs.  

 

A chewy is an object that can safely be put in the mouth to meet oral sensory needs. It may be known as an autism chew toy, chewy, or chewie.  

 

 

 

The Need to Chew

Teenagers and adults with sensory processing disorders may experience a strong desire for oral sensory input. This sensory stimulation need can be met with non-food objects and non-edible things known as chew fidgets or chewies/chewys.  

 

A need for oral stimulation can be apparent through teeth grinding, placing hands and clothes in one's mouth, and by biting things other than food.  The best way to meet that need is through oral sensory toys or objects that are made of safe materials to chew and suck on.  

 

The oral sensory need to chew may arise during times of high stress or anxiety when there is a need to increase focus, or throughout one's day.  Chew toys can have a calming, focusing, and organizing impact on an individual.  However, for safety (and ethical) reasons, never force anyone to use a chewy. 

 

 

For an extensive list of sensory toys, including oral sensory toys with options other than chew toys, check out my blog post of 101 Sensory Toys for Teens and Adults with Disabilities, Autism ,and ADHD

 

 

 

Things to Consider

While there are the 'most popular' sensory chews with lots of 5-star reviews (which I've also listed below), it's important to consider the teen or adult's sensory needs and preferences and match what's available to find the perfect chew toy. While it may be apparent that an individual has an oral fixation, finding the chewy that best meets their needs may take trial and error.  

 

The following are things to consider before trying a few or to understand why previous chewies may not have been successful.  

 

1. Shape

Chewys come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from long sticks to Y-shape, U-shape, figures, and more.  Shape matters because an older teen or adult may want a chewy that has a long extension that can reach their back molars or they may want something with a shorter/smaller chewable surface so it can easily fit into a pocket or purse.  Along with the right shape is finding the right size.  When looking at shape, also take into consider the width.  While chewy options may be the same shape, like a Y-shape, a different diameter or width may better meet the individual's needs.  

 

 

2. Durability

Some individuals would consider their oral input needs to be infrequent and may be a light chewer, and others may rely on oral sensory stimulation throughout their day and be more aggressive chewers.  Some autism chew toys come with toughness levels, with different colors denoting different silicone toughness.  While jaw strength may indicate that the individual may need a tougher chew, their sensory stimulation preferences will help determine how tough they need a chewie to be safe.  

 

As with any oral motor chew tool, adult supervision is always required as the item may break and become a choking hazard, even with chews made of high quality silicone.  

 

 

3. Texture

There are a variety of textures to consider when trying to find the right chewy.  While it is easy to assume that a chewy may not be a good fit for someone if they didn't gravitate towards it immediately, it may be worth trying a different texture.  Different textures will result in different oral stimulation.  From smooth, to bumpy, to lines, to curved shapes, and more, the right texture can send the right sensory information to the brain for the most effective oral feedback.  

 

Another note on texture is that different textures may cause a 'squicking' sound when in use, which may be appealing or unappealing to the user.  

 

 

4. Accessibility

Chew tools will not be nearly as effective if they aren't easily accessible!  Sensory chew necklaces are the most popular option because they are hands-free and rest near the mouth, however not all teens and adults with autism enjoy or can tolerate wearing a necklace.  If they can, looking for a neck lanyard option or breakaway clasp for easy on/off access may help to maximize accessibility and use.  Also, the 'b' style chew is very popular as it can be held or kept in a pocket/bag/purse easily, the design of the handheld chews also allows for a necklace or retractable chain to be added for easy accessibility.  

 

Some chew sensory seekers will want to have their chew tools always accessible and others will prefer to access the chewy when needed and may feel bogged down by excessive chains and clips.  This is an other important factor to consider when finding the user's favorite chew toy.   

 

 

25+ Chew Toys

 

          

Necklaces

 

Gold Gemstone Chew Bricks Necklace

 

TShirt Autism Chew Necklace

 

Textured TShirt Chew Necklace

 

Pearl Chewable Jewelry Necklace

 

Silicone Chew Tube Necklace

 

Large Oval Pendant on Necklace (Reviews report appropriate size for teen/adult size mouths)

 

Blue and Pink Marble Colored Chews (Available in a variety of shapes)

 

Mega Brick Stick, Long Thick with Pendant Necklace Option

 

Y-Shaped Stick Chewy Necklace

 

Hollow Heart Shaped Chew Necklace

 

          

Pendant

 

Extra Large Feather Textured Chewelry Pendant

 

2 Sided Silicon Remote Chewable Pendant

 

Ark Therapeutic Bendy Bite (Can choose toughness level)

 

Dagger-Syle Chewie with Hole (attach to Retractable Clip)

 

Starfish Chew

 

          

Other

 

Chewable Zipper Pull

 

S Chewie Fidget

 

Chewable Neck Gaiter

 

Clippable Fabric Chew

 

Dental Chew Sticks (Similar to Chewable Pencil Toppers)

 

Chewable Bangle Bracelet

 

Ark Magic Wand Long Stick Chew

 

Long, Thick Chew Stick

 

Handheld Thin Curved Chew Semi Circle

 

Flavored Wood Stick for Light, Infrequent Chewing 

(Intended to be used to quit smoking, so flavors are more pleasant and size is more discrete)

 

          

Most Popular

 

4 Option Chew Stixx Super Chews

 

Grey Chewy Tubes

 

Orange Flavored Chew Tubes

 

Chewable Pencil Toppers

 

Wide, Smooth Tear-Shaped Chewy Jewelry

 

 

And a special shout out to occupational therapists!  I learned most about oral sensory chew toys from the occupational therapists I worked with in the school setting, a true expert support system for the certified staff in my program (in my humble opinion).  They brought a new lens and professional experience when we worked together to provide the new and best support to our students with autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorders.    

 


  

 

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