I am excited to share today about Oral Sensory Input. When we first started learning about sensory needs and supporting a healthy sensory system, we knew nothing about the importance of oral sensory input and what this could look like in all children.
What is Oral Sensory Input?
Our oral system allows us to sense the world around us through our mouths. It allows us to make important decisions about our surroundings, and is responsible for our ability to chew, swallow, and even communicate.
We receive information from our oral system through our mouth, allowing us to experience textures, temperatures, and flavors in everyday life.
I have always connected the oral sensory system to the sense of taste. Little did I know it was so much more and responsible for so many more functions and processes. You can learn more by reading here.
Simple Ways to Support Oral Sensory Input
Often times many of us overlook this system unless we have a problem or see a struggle in our children. However, by including these simple activities and/or tools in your daily life you can help support a healthy oral sensory system (gustatory sense) .
Introduce New Foods Often | Many times child like or dislike foods due to their texture as opposed to their tastes. It is great to offer a wide variety of foods that span the different tastes such as salty, sour, sweet, and savory. In addition, it is also helpful to offer a variety in the texture such as chewy, crunchy, soft and hard.
Offer Chewing Gum | Using a sugar-free, dye-free chewing gum can give children both oral and proprioceptive input they desire that helps them organize the world around them. It allows their brain to focus and attend with more clarity. We love the chewing gum from Project Sensory.
Straws | Straws are fantastic! Don't just put them in water, add them to a good thick milkshake or even to applesauce to add resistance. This is great for giving children that have a desire to put their fingers in their mouth something else to use instead. We absolutely love the water bottle and bite valve from Project Sensory to assist in this support!
Offer Appropriate Chewing Devices | I know many of think if we just say “hands out of your mouth, “stop biting” or something along those lines the behavior will end. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Your child is doing these things because they are seeking out a way to regulate their emotions or their sensory input. Chewable jewelry offers a great alternative to clothing and fingers!
Dayna is a National Board Certified teacher, with over 12 years of experience in early childhood education, who now homeschools her 3 children, one of which struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder. She is the author at Lemon Lime Adventures and owner of Project Sensory, where she is dedicated to sharing real life stories with parents and educators about the pretty and the not so pretty days involved in raising children. You can connect with Dayna over on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and G+!