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Most of the information we see today about sensory processing disorder revolves around children, which makes sense because sensory issues are typically discovered early-on in life. It’s common to hear about sensory intervention strategies for young children, sensory play activities for babies & toddlers, the best toddler toys to stimulate sensory learning, and so forth. What’s not often discussed, however, is that these children eventually grow up. And when they do, their sensory toys and activities must grow up and adapt with them.
This post is sponsored by and written collaboratively with ARK Therapeutic.
The sensory spectrum is complex, but typically oral sensory needs fall into two camps: sensory avoiders or sensory seekers.
Oral sensory avoiders will typically do just that – avoid anything in or around their mouths. They may not like their teeth to be brushed, for instance. And/or they may avoid certain textures or foods. This is often called “oral defensiveness.”
On the other hand, sensory seekers will actively seek out oral input. They tend to like intense flavors gravitate towards crunchy foods. They may also grind their teeth, and oftentimes they feel the need to chew on non-food items. For example, your child may chew on their pencil erasers, shirt collars, sleeves, their hands, etc. Why? Chewing can be very calming, focusing, and organizing. It’s a common way for children with sensory needs, anxiety, and/or ADHD, etc. to regulate their systems.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on oral sensory seekers and introduce you to several options for older children (5-years-old and up) who need a safe outlet to chew on, which is where ARK Therapeutic comes in!
ARK is a family company that designs and manufactures sensory solutions and therapy tools. The founders are a husband and wife duo, John and Debbie Lowsky. As a speech-language pathologist, Debbie had always seen a need to chew in many of her therapy kids.
But 15 years ago, chew toys for older kids simply didn’t exist. So Debbie and John (an engineer) decided to create the Grabber to meet this need (a P shaped chew that you may have seen before). They’ve since come out dozens of other oral motor chewables. The textured and scented ones are particularly appealing for sensory seekers. Check out all of them here and read their full story here
Why are these solutions perfect for older children (and even adults)?
1. ARK’s chew tools come in 3 different toughness levels. The standard ones are very chewy and bendy for mild chewers or those who tend to chew on soft items. The XT (“Xtra Tough”) options are firmer for moderate chewers. And they even have XXT (“Xtra Xtra Tough”) that’s very firm for avid chewers or if your child likes to chew on very hard objects.
2. The shapes are long enough to reach the back molars from older children through adults. This provides the most information to their sensory system.
3. The chewelry in particular is very discreet – the prism and lego-shaped pendants look like regular jewelry.
4. The chewable pencil toppers are a convenient way to chew in the classroom. As an added bonus, having a pencil topper on the end of the pencil adds just enough weight to help stabilize the hand. For those who need even more input, the Tran-Quill Vibrating Pencil has both a weighted and chewable component, as well as vibration (which adds more sensory input without affecting the handwriting at all).
Bonus: all ARK products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in the USA!
For oral sensory seekers, the first step is to provide them with one of these safe outlets to chew on. But please note that this is not an end-all-be-all fix. Sensory seekers typically also benefit from other calming activities and sensory strategies from a variety of professionals. For example, it’s highly recommended that any child with sensory needs be evaluated by an OT to see if a sensory diet could be helpful.
ARK Therapeutic also offers lots of other fine motor, oral motor, and feeding/drinking products. Be sure to head over and check them out, as well as follow them on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest,YouTube, and Instagram, where they run giveaways and share helpful advice.
Francie Foster says
My guy has chewed holes in his OT’s chewing tools before. He is definitely a sensory seeker. I think ARK’s Z-Grabber vibrating chew tool would be perfect for him. I love that you can change out the tips. Thank you for the chance to win.
Amanda Bailey says
The Lego lookalike chewlery for my 7 year old! He was recently diagnosed and chews on his shirt collars! This would help save his shirts!
Katie Santos says
I loooove the pencil toppers. I work in a high school and use them all the time with my anxious and distracted kiddos. I love that they are safe, discreet and respectful
Heather Greutman says
Congratulations Katie, you are the winner! Just sent you an e-mail to claim your winnings!
Nikki Estrada-Schafer says
My 8 year old LOVES legos! The brick stick would help me save on shirt and blankets since he chronically chews on both! He has ADHD and anxiety and definitely a sensory seeker.
I would love to win this. I think the kryptobite may be exactly what my son needs to stop chewing on everything else during school. Maybe the pencil topper would work to stop him from basically eating his pencils.
Sarah Harford says
I’m in my last year of a graduate occupational therapy program and plan to work in early intervention. I would love to experience ARK products so that I’m comfortable recommending them to my clients. As an oral-motor sensory seeker myself, I am interested in seeing what effect the brick stick (blue) would have on my stress level during exams and high stress times during the semester.
Brandy Blankenship says
My son has his chewy attached to him at all times or else he is licking everyone and putting everything in his mouth. Now that he’s in kindergarten we want something more kid friendly like the Lego shaped chewy ?
I’ve seen products like these in the past, possibly by the same company, and have contemplated trying them out for my son. He was a thumb sucker, and when that stopped he started chewing hist shirt collar when anxious. He hasn’t been diagnosed with a sensory need but I think he would benefit from a product like the chewable pencil topper. He recently started at a new school, and is probably anxious.
Rachel Bezerra says
My brother in law is 15 with a complicated diagnosis & absolutely a sensory seeker. My MIL is always looking for solutions to his chewing on shirts & such. Sometimes it’s hard to make suggestions to them though. I’m interested in the Lego chewlery. I’d love to present it as a gift along with more information about your company. I think they could really benefit!
KrIstin Hernand ez says
I would love to try the pencil toppers. They look amazing and non distracting!!!!
Jenny Rubalcada says
Z grabber vibrating tool would be a great addition to my therapy tools. I work in early intervention and parents are always seeking useful sensory tools.
Myrtle Crowe says
My 6 yr old would love the Tran quill vibrating topper. She is adhd, but loves to do school work but just can’t keep her hands and pencils away from her mouth. These are awesome things.
Christy Walk says
The pencil toppers are my favorite
Z grabber vibrating tool would be a great addition to my therapy kit. I work with children birth to 21. Several of my pt.’s could benefit.
Kate R. says
Would love to try the pencil toppers for my sons!
Dawn Fode says
I just ordered some of the extra tough pencil toppers and chewies for my 5-8 grade boys that chew through everything. Crossing my fingers!
Tracy Szczepanski says
I would love to try ARK’S BRICK STICK™ TEXTURED CHEW NECKLACE for a 2nd grader with an intense chewing issue and it is a great design for boys.
Cindy B says
As a teacher of special needs children I am very interested in the chewelery XT for one of my students. He would benefit greatly being as he is an avid chewer.
I can’t decide between the pencil toppers and the chewelry. Would like to try one of these products for my granddaughter.
krypto bite would be great for my daughter who chews on her lip and fingers and anything she can. .. Ugh the germs and we just started school!! eeccckkkk
krypto bite would be great for my daughter who chews on her lip and fingers and anything she can. ..
Susan Westerfield says
I have a student who requires such intense sensory input that he chews on a tube wall day long and licks /mouths everything. I think he needs much more intense input and then he may not require constant input. The ARK’S Z-GRABBER® VIBRATING CHEW TOOL may help significantly.
Lisa Ellis says
I would love to try the pencil toppers for my middle and high school students! We are looking for more age appropriate chewing solutions!!