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I am excited to have Dayna of Lemon Lime Adventures sharing with us today as part of the A-Z’s of Sensory Play for Kids series. She is sharing some great oral sensory input ideas for you all.
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.
Play Games | Blowing bubbles, pom-pom races, and other fun games that include blowing and sucking are absolutely fabulous ways to encourage healthy and appropriate oral sensory input!
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+!
My son is five and still puts everything in his mouth. I’m going to try to incorporate some of these things so that he can get the support he needs without licking shopping carts (seriously). I especially like the chewable jewellery idea. Maybe he needs something like that .
Heather Greutman says
Hi Kalista, Yes the chewable jewelry is a great option. I have one for my two year old and she uses it in church as well. I need to remember to take it with us when we are grocery shopping because she likes to lick the carts too. I hope these tips were helpful for you!