#159 - Tips for Oral Seekers! If You Don't Know If Your Child Seeks Oral Input, Listen Up!

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC June 30, 2021

Tips for Oral Seekers! If You Don't Know If Your Child Seeks Oral Input, Listen Up!

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Tips for Oral Seekers! If You Don't Know If Your Child Seeks Oral Input, Listen Up!

“Why does my child chew on everything to the point of soaking their shirt and ruining objects like pencils?” 

“How do I help a child who grinds their teeth constantly?” 

“Will my child grow out of oral seeking tendencies?” 

If you have asked yourself any of these questions, then today’s episode is for you! 

Today we tackle the subject of oral seeking. As we get a lot of questions from parents whose kiddos seek oral input, today we’re going to break this down. 

From chewing or sucking non-food items to grinding teeth, overstuffing while eating, biting, making excessive noise with the mouth, drooling, or displaying poor feeding skills, we talk about how to identify an oral sensory seeker. 

Tuning in, you’ll find out why your child does this and we give you some new things to try that could make all the difference. We give you a breakdown of games, tools, and activities to help oral sensory seeking people in different phases of life get the oral input that they need. 

We also discuss how to create a verbal or a visual cue to remind your child of alternative options to chewing their hair, clothes, or other items, and we provide some advice on how to replace socially unexpected behaviors with expected behaviors. 

To find out all the tips, tricks, and strategies to help an oral sensory seeker, tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An introduction to some of the questions our hosts get asked about oral input. 

  • Insight into why these kids are hyposensitive or under-responsive to oral input. 

  • How the oral seeking tendencies relate back to infancy and how oral input is very calming. 

  • How to identify an oral sensory seeker.

  • The importance of giving a child as much oral input as possible, early as possible. 

  • A breakdown of games and activities to help oral sensory seeking babies and toddlers.

  • How using a mirror may help school-aged kiddos who have poor control while they’re eating. 

  • A list of safe chew items appropriate for school-aged kiddos. 

  • How to give kids the independence to know when they need oral input and ask for it.  

  • Oral motor games that you can play with school-aged kiddos.

  • How a vibrating toothbrush may help.

  • How to provide more input during mealtimes

  • How chewing gum and sour spray may help.

  • How to create a verbal or a visual cue to remind your child of alternative options to chewing their hair, clothes, etc.

  • Other toys, items, and activities that could help kids get the oral input that they need. 

  • The importance of talking to your child about why they are doing what they’re doing and what they’re feeling when they’re doing it. 

  • How to teach them to replace socially unexpected behaviors with expected behaviors. 


“These kids are hyposensitive or under-responsive to oral input. They’re seeking that input because they don’t feel like they get enough and also, oral input is very calming and organizing.” —All Things Sensory [01:28]

“Talk about what they feel when they chew. If they’re chewing on their pencil, you can talk to them and say, ‘I notice you’re chewing on your pencil a lot. Do you know why you do that?’” —All Things Sensory [23:36]

“Our kiddos won’t be able to connect [chewing on a pencil] to a feeling but it’s very important to try to help your kiddo connect it to a feeling, so that way they know what they need and what they’re seeking, and what they can do instead.” —All Things Sensory [24:03]

“These are just tools and strategies, and your child is seeking oral motor input for a reason, right? Let’s teach them about that reason and let’s teach them what they can do to get that same input in a more expected way.” —All Things Sensory [24:42]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Ark’s Z-vibe  

Warheads Super Sour Spray Candy


Harkla on Instagram

All Things Sensory on Instagram

All Things Sensory on Facebook

FREEBIE: Tips for Oral Sensory Seekers (Be sure to look for Episode #159!)


Check out our video all about Strategies for Oral Sensory Seekers


Check out our video all about Strategies to Help Stop Biting


Full Show Transcript

[0:00:01.4] RH: Hey there, I’m Rachel.


[0:00:03.1] JH: I’m Jessica and this is All Things Sensory by Harkla. Together, we’re on a mission to help children, families, therapist and educators live happy and healthy lives.


[0:00:12.2] RH: We dive into all things sensory, special needs, occupational therapy, parenting, self-care and so much more. In each episode, we share raw, honest, fun ideas and strategies for everyone to implement into daily life.


[0:00:24.6] JH: Thank you so much for joining us.




[0:00:32.1] RH: Hello everyone, welcome to episode 159 of All Thing Sensory by Harkla. This is Rachel. 


[0:00:38.2] JH: This is Jessica. 


[0:00:39.5] RH: We’re here to talk about oral seeking today.


[0:00:44.1] JH: Yeah, we get a lot of questions from parents about their kiddos who seek oral inputs.


[0:00:50.5] RH: Yes. We are going to break that down, tell you why, tell you how, and then tell you some things to try to make a difference. 


[0:00:59.7] JH: All the tips, tricks, and strategies, the reason why you’re all here.


[0:01:03.0] RH: Yes. All right, let’s get started. 


[0:01:06.1] JH: Okay, we have questions like, “Why does my child chew on everything to the point of soaking their shirt and ruining objects like pencils?”


[0:01:14.6] RH: Things like, “How do I help a child who grinds their teeth constantly” and “Will my child grow out of oral seeking tendencies?” and “What can I offer my child to help them get the input that they seek safely.”


[0:01:28.6] JH: Okay, these kids are hyposensitive or under-responsive to oral input. They’re seeking that input because they don’t feel like they get enough and also, oral input is very calming and organizing.


[0:01:44.4] RH: Yeah, if we take it back to infancy, babies are born typically with the ability to root and suck and swallow and calming input is to suck on a pacifier, suck on a boob, that is calming for our babies and for our children and for so many people.


I just feel like I want to point out here, Jessica mentioned these kiddos are under responsive and these kiddos are trying to get enough input to their mouth, to their jaw, to feel normal, to feel like you and I feel just sitting here listening to this podcast, you and I recording this podcast right now because something is off in the brain, telling these kiddos, telling these adults whoever they are that they need more, that there isn’t enough input. That’s just like – think about that for a minute.


[0:02:38.8] JH: I was also thinking too, infants learn about objects in their environment by mouthing them, that’s why babies mouth everything because that’s the first way that they can explore and learn about all of these objects and sometimes these kids maybe don’t get the opportunity to explore objects orally. Because toys are taken away or they don’t have access to the toys and so then later on in life, because they didn’t get that oral motor input as infants, they’re going to seek it out when they’re older.


[0:03:11.6] RH: Yeah, maybe it’s not even that they didn’t have access or things got taken away. Maybe they kind of skipped that phase and they just never went through that oral seeking phase as an infant and that could go both ways, they could be under responsive or they could be over responsive as they grow up. There’s a lot of different reasons why a kiddo might be seeking oral input, we’re not going to necessarily focus on that today, we’re going to focus on – well, let’s start with what does it look like?


[0:03:42.0] JH: Okay. Chewing or sucking a non-food items, these are the kids who chew on their shirt, chew on their pencil, chew on their fingers, maybe they chew on their tongue or their lips, they chew on their hair. 


[0:03:58.8] RH: Yeah. Personal antidote here for you, my niece who is five is a big time oral sensory seeker.


[0:04:07.3] JH: Logan is too.


[0:04:08.1] RH: Logan is as well, yes. 


[0:04:09.8] JH: If you guys see any of our videos, he’s always chomping his gums, anyways.


[0:04:15.1] RH: My niece is always chewing on her hair, her shirt and we laugh about it because her dad, my husband’s brother is the same way. He chews on bottle caps, chews on like everything and it’s so funny to see the connection of father-daughter, they both seek that. You have some instances of seeking it a little bit too.


[0:04:37.5] JH: 100 percent!


[0:04:39.3] RH: It’s so much genetic and environmental too so we just have to laugh at that when kiddos have these sensory tendencies and parents are like, “Where did they get them from?” It’s like, “Well, look at the mirror, sometimes you have things” I mean that in a very respectful way. It’s just it’s helpful when parents realize that they have their own sensory needs too.


[0:05:00.7] JH: Yes. Okay, back to what it looks like.


[0:05:03.5] RH: The next thing is grinding teeth. This is what I do, I grind my teeth during sleep, while I’m awake, during stressful moments, while you’re concentrating, randomly throughout the day, a lot of kiddos, a lot of adults grind their teeth.


[0:05:16.8] JH: It’s also going to look like overstuffing while eating. This could be eating too quickly or placing too much food in the mouth, which is a safety concern. 


[0:05:27.7] RH: Another one is biting. This can often be a typical childhood experience, we see this in very young children as they start to explore social situations but it shouldn’t last very long and once they realize that it’s not okay, they’re going to move past it. For kiddos who seek that input, they might bite themselves, they might suck on their arm or give themselves hickeys on their arms, they might bite other people. Not in like a negative way of just – they just chomp down and they just need that extra input.


[0:05:58.9] JH: Logan has given himself hickeys on his arm before and I’m always like – 


[0:06:02.4] RH: I used to.


[0:06:04.4] JH: Stop, knock it off.


[0:06:07.2] RH: I for sure used to do that.


[0:06:08.8] JH: Oh my goodness. Okay, another way that this might come out is by making excessive noise with the mouth. Humming, clicking your tongue, making buzzing sounds, those types of things.


[0:06:23.2] RH: Yes, another one is drooling or maybe displaying poor feeding skills. When a kiddo’s under responsive, they don’t feel that input to their oral structures and they can have poor saliva control, poor coordination of their oral structures that are required for chewing and swallowing and drinking so it’s going to be all over their mouth.


[0:06:44.6] JH: These kids can turn into picky eaters because they can’t eat a big variety of food because their mouth isn’t coordinated in a way to allow them to explore different textures.


[0:06:55.0] RH: These might also be the kiddos who sit at the table for 30 plus minutes trying to eat a meal because it takes them extra time to chew.


[0:07:04.0] JH: They’re tired.


[0:07:03.3] RH: Small and it’s exhausting, yeah. What on earth do we do, Jessica? Tell me what do we do?


[0:07:13.2] JH: Well, this is perfect because you have a nine-month-old and you started him young and that’s what we need to do, we need to start our kids young if possible and provide as much oral motor input as we can using your fingers or oral motor tools, we really like arc therapeutic but you just keep it simple when they’re young.


[0:07:33.9] RH: Play oral motor imitation games so one of my favorite things to do with Trip right now is to make noises like – or – and he’ll look at my mouth and he’ll look at my tongue and then he’ll try to do the same thing.


[0:07:47.3] JH: Yup, that’s perfect. Or even, making silly faces and definitely use a mirror during playtime, this is really helpful and little kids love looking at themselves.


[0:07:58.7] RH: Yeah, then blowing bubbles. Being an adult, blowing bubbles for the kiddo to maybe try to catch on their tongue or having the kiddo try to blow bubbles.


[0:08:07.2] JH: They do make those edible bubbles.


[0:08:09.7] RH: Yeah.


[0:08:10.4] JH: You could get that edible bubbles.


[0:08:12.1] RH: that would be fun. Yeah, bubbles are great, vibration is great, I started using my vibrating toothbrush with Trip and just brushing his two little chompers with that.


[0:08:22.4] JH: So cute.


[0:08:24.0] RH: Then we also love the vibrating teethers. The ones that you can bite and then they vibrate, those are great and then Ark’s Z-vibe is also great as well.


[0:08:33.8] JH: Another thing to do when your child is young and as they’re getting a little older and starting to learn words and starting to talk is to name all of the parts of the oral structures. Naming your cheeks and your tongue and your lips and all the different parts and use a mirror, demonstrate – stick out your tongue, that kind of stuff.


[0:08:52.8] RH: Yeah. It sounds silly talking about it kind of.


[0:08:57.0] JH: It is super silly.


[0:08:58.2] RH: It makes such a big difference and you know, it’s second nature for us to do it with my kiddo, with the kiddos that we treat but it really does make a big difference when you implement these very simple tools and strategies in your infant, toddler and let’s talk about some school-aged kiddos as well.


[0:09:15.7] JH: Yup, these older kids, if they are an over stuffer, if they have poor control while they’re eating, use a mirror during meal time so that they can look and watch while they put food in their mouth, while they chew, while they swallow and they can see what’s going on, the visual feedback is so key in learning about their body.


[0:09:36.4] RH: Yes. Same with how we use mirrors for dressing and body awareness, it’s the same idea. The next one is provide chew items like a chew necklace or bracelet, just something that is safe and appropriate for the kiddo to chew. If you notice that the kiddo is chewing on their hair or on their shirt then bring it to their attention and say, “Hey, I see that you’re seeking a little bit of oral motor input.” I’m just kidding, don’t say that.


[0:10:04.2] JH: I mean, you could, depending on the kid but just bring it to their attention, don’t say, “Stop chewing on your hair, stop pulling, stop doing this” just bring it to their attention and ask them what they need and see if they can recognize it and if they can say “Yeah, I need a chewy.” Well, get them a chewy, let them chew on that and then ask them how they feel afterwards.


[0:10:24.4] RH: I do this with Logan all the time because he is a true oral seeker and he will sit there and he will chew on his fingers, he used to chew on his shirt when he was younger, he doesn’t really anymore because I got on his case a little bit I’m not going to lie.


Now we’re at a point were he’ll go and he’ll get gum and he’ll just chew gum all throughout the day, he loves blowing bubbles with his gum, there are times when I notice him starting to kind of start seeking some input and be like, “Hey, if you need some gum, you know, where it’s at?” and he’ll go get it.


[0:10:52.4] JH: That’s so much better than saying, “Stop chewing on this, stop doing that. Get some gum.”


[0:10:57.6] RH: Gives him the responsibility.


[0:10:59.3] JH: Yeah, for sure. It is just teaching them even for our kiddos who maybe aren’t talking, it still can be something that you can work on. 


[0:11:08.9] RH: Show a picture of a gum and put it on their Proloquor put it on their visual schedule. They realize, chewing gum, maybe it’s not chewing gum, maybe it’s sours, maybe it’s another one of these strategies that we’re going to talk about but give them that independence because it will help and they will learn how to understand that that’s what they need and they’re going to love it and they’re going to start requesting that for sure.


[0:11:31.5] JH: Okay, another thing to do is going to be more oral motor games. Bubble mountain is one of our favorites, you fill a bowl with water, squirt some dish soap in there, grab a straw and blow and you're going to create this big bubble mountain, it’s nice to do it outside if you can because you don‘t have to worry about cleanup.


Doing games with straws so pom-poms, cotton balls, little pieces of cereal or opposite, doing it straw sucking so where you use your straw and you suck and you pick something up.


[0:12:02.8] RH: Yeah, you have to transfer it to another bowl like an M&M’s or something.


[0:12:05.8] JH: Pennies are really hard because they’re so heavy.


[0:12:08.6] RH: Yeah, I’m thinking like a piece of cereal or an M&M I’ve done before which was great, it’s perfect. Like we said before, vibrating toothbrush, they have lots of different options. Some with a lot of vibrations, some with just a little bit of vibration, the Ark Therapeutic Z-Vibe has a toothbrush attachment as well, building that into your daily routine, you know? Adding it to your sensory schedule so it’s just – you don’t have to think about offering this extra sensory input, it comes second nature and it’s just natural to do and you just put your darn sensory goggles on and you realize that what you're doing is so helpful.




[0:12:47.3] RH: We just want to take a minute and talk to you about our company, Harkla. Our mission at Harkla is to help those with special needs live happy, healthy lives. Not only do we accomplish this through the podcast but we also have therapy products, easy to follow digital courses and the Harkla Sensory Club, to try to bring holistic care to you and your family.


[0:13:04.8] JH: Listeners of the All Things Sensory Podcast get 10 percent off their first purchase at Harkla with the discount code “sensory.” We’d recommend checking out some of our bestsellers like the compression sensory swing, weighted blankets or our course on sensory diets. 


[0:13:19.8] RH: Here’s the best part, one percent of each sale gets donated to the University of Washington Autism Center to support autism research and fund scholarships to families in need to receive in-clinic therapy for their child. 


[0:13:32.2] JH: Learn more about Harkla and all we have to offer at harkla.co, that’s harkla.co and don’t forget to use the discount code “sensory” to get 10 percent off your first purchase. That’s “sensory” for 10 percent off. 


[0:13:53.4] RH:And the best part is all Harkla orders come with a lifetime guarantee and free shipping. 


[0:14:00.7] JH: You really can’t beat that. 


[0:14:01.6] RH: No! 


[0:14:02.4] JH: No, you can’t. Okay, let’s go back to the show. 




[0:14:06.7] JH: Providing more input during mealtime is going to help as well, so more crunchy foods, more spicy-sour foods, do cold or frozen foods. I’ve seen a lot of people who like to do like frozen grapes. 


[0:14:22.2] RH: Frozen peas. 


[0:14:22.9] JH: That’s a good one, frozen peas. You know, I keep bringing up my kid because he’s an oral seeker but he loves blueberries and he will request specifically frozen blueberries and I was like, “Hey, do you want to thaw them out?” and he says, “No, I want to eat them frozen” and it’s because it’s cold and they’re hard so it gives them a lot of input. 


[0:14:40.9] RH: That’s so awesome. I love it. 


[0:14:42.1] JH: It’s so funny. 


[0:14:44.2] RH: All right, another way in the kitchen is to drink a smoothie through a small straw. Make a smoothie together. 


[0:14:51.6] JH: Make them nice and thick. 


[0:14:52.8] RH: Throw all of the fruits and veggies in there and flax meal and hemp seeds and protein, whatever you want to put in it. 


[0:14:58.6] JH: I love hemp seeds.


[0:14:59.3] RH: Me too, it’s so good, so good for you. 


[0:15:02.1] JH: I know. 


[0:15:02.7] RH: Great brain food. Throw that in your smoothie and then pick out the smallest straw possible. 


[0:15:09.3] JH: Or like those really fun spirally straws, those are cool.


[0:15:12.5] RH: Yes. Yeah, so those will be cool and just have your child drink their smoothie through that straw. Yep, you could even do like other purees, you know, yogurt, apple sauce, ice cream though ice cream would be tricky but just water, you know drink? Just provide water to them in a water bottle with a straw. 


[0:15:32.7] JH: Yep, that’s the next one we had on there and getting them one that requires bite before you suck.


[0:15:39.8] RH: Yeah, like those Camelbak water bottles, you know? 


[0:15:43.2] JH: I did have to replace Logan’s water bottle. He had one with the straw and he chewed the straw part. I actually got him one without a straw because I don’t want him to chew on it. 


[0:15:53.4] RH: All right, so prime example for you, every kiddo is unique and you got to have to trial and error and see what works best for them. 


[0:16:03.0] JH: For real. 


[0:16:03.7] RH: We did talk about gum, so if one piece isn’t enough, try to two or three pieces. Try the really hard bubble gum. If your kiddo isn’t chewing bubble gum yet, teach them how to safely chew bubble gum. I recommend starting with two ten times and then spit it out and then the next day, chew 20 times and then spit it out so that way they get in the habit chewing, chewing, chewing and then when they’re done, they spit it out, they don’t swallow it. 


[0:16:29.5] JH: Yep, for sure and you know what? Chewing gum is such a great way to teach saliva control, you know? That’s a good one especially if your kid is drooling and use a mirror so they can see where it’s at. 


[0:16:42.0] RH: Yep. Another one we absolutely love is oral motor sour spray and so War Heads makes a very sour spray that you can find on Amazon. Some kids love it, some kids are really hesitant but they learned to love it, it’s a great one. 


[0:16:59.9] JH: I have a great story about a kid who tried sour spray for the very first time. Now, he was a picky eater and would build up a lot of really good rapport so he trusted me, so he tried the sour spray for the first time and he immediately spit on the floor, but we kept trying it every single session and he got to a point where he loved it.


[0:17:22.6] RH: See? That’s awesome. I had a kiddo who was an older kiddo, again, we had the great rapport, was very nervous to try it so I sprayed the sour spray on the finger and he had the opportunity to put it in his mouth when he was ready and kind of modulate how much he put in his mouth. A lot of modifications, I would also let kids spray on my mouth and I mean sour, it’s sour and they like to see your sour face. I mean you can’t fake it, you know? They know that. 


[0:17:53.6] JH: Oh yeah.


[0:17:54.8] RH: It’s even just a fun way to build rapport and just to connect with your kiddo for sure. 


[0:17:59.7] JH: Using chew items on pens and pencils and writing utensils. They do make chew items that you can put on top so that’s perfect if your kid is a pencil chewer. Pencil chewer, it sounds so – 


[0:18:14.6] RH: Well, sometimes that’s what they do. Even the aquarium tubing that you can buy for fish tanks is really tough and really intense for those kiddos who just need a ton of input. Okay, so having a verbal or a visual cue to remind the child of alternative options for chewing other than their hair, their shirt, making a special cue between you guys that is just a secret. Whether it’s you, the parent, the therapist, teacher, two taps on the shoulder and that reminds the child that they need to go grab a chewy or they need to go grab a necklace, something like that.


[0:18:52.8] JH: Yep, so if your child is a tooth grinder and they grind their teeth during sleep, first you want to rule out a potential tongue tie, which we’ve got a couple of episodes about that so you could check that out. Reach out to pediatric dentists to see their thoughts. Another thing that you can do for teeth grinding is use mouth guards and especially at night when it is not really something that can be stopped. 


[0:19:18.4] RH: Yep. Yeah, chewing gum helps me when I grind my teeth. 


[0:19:23.2] JH: For sure. 


[0:19:23.7] RH: Yep, when I feel that adding these activities, adding the crunchy foods, adding the more intense flavored foods can kind of help with that teeth grinding as well. 


[0:19:33.0] JH: For sure.


[0:19:33.6] RH: Another one is to try offering hollow two tubes so – 


[0:19:38.1] JH: Like that aquarium tubing you talked about. 


[0:19:40.0] RH: Yeah or pop tubes, something that gives a little bit more feedback. It opens and it closes and they can get a little bit more from the hollow chews rather than like a solid chew toy if that makes sense. 


[0:19:53.0] JH: Yeah, it definitely provides different input. Using more toys like harmonicas, kazoos, whistles, yes, they are annoying but they give so much input. I did get a harmonica for Logan, I think it was like sorry, the Easter Bunny got a harmonica for Logan, those are two dollars. It’s so cheap and he loves it and he can make his own music and it gives him a lot of feedback when he uses it. 


[0:20:22.5] RH: Have you tried a kazoo with him? 


[0:20:24.6] JH: Maybe, I’m not sure. 


[0:20:26.9] RH: I feel like kazoos are hard to learn initially but once they learn them, they get a lot of feedback from them. 


[0:20:33.1] JH: I don’t even know if I have ever used a kazoo. I don’t know, maybe.


[0:20:36.1] RH: I had one as a kid, I loved it. 


[0:20:37.9] JH: Maybe. 


[0:20:38.2] RH: See, all of this is just coming out. When I was a kid, I give myself hickies, I have kazoos, I grind my teeth. 


[0:20:46.5] JH: So many things. 


[0:20:48.7] RH: Okay, so another one that you could try like we mentioned earlier, practice those tongue movements using cards and a mirror like the super-duper oral motor deck. Just following the visual of like push your tongue into your cheek like me and touch your tongue to your nose and I mean – 


[0:21:05.7] JH: No way, you can’t do that.


[0:21:07.2] RH: You can try. 


[0:21:07.9] JH: Some people can probably do it, really long tongues. 


[0:21:09.4] RH: Yeah but that is like a three-year-old skill that kids should be able to imitate these oral motor positions, so if your kiddo is really struggling and it’s definitely something to build into your daily routine and don’t make it work, make it fun and engaging. 


[0:21:25.0] JH: Yeah, for sure. Another good one is moving air back and forth between your cheeks. 


[0:21:30.5] RH: I love this. 


[0:21:31.8] JH: We just did it. Could you do it? I hope you did it, try it. 


[0:21:35.7] RH: Another one of my favorites is humming, so having the child hum and I’m pushing down and in on their chest, so they are getting that humming, I’m pushing on their chest, they’re getting a ton of input from that and kids find it so calming.


[0:21:51.6] JH: It’s not pushing hard and it’s just right below your collarbone.


[0:21:56.5] RH: Yes. 


[0:21:57.4] JH: Okay, offering more big body proprioceptive movements like jumping on the trampoline or crashing on the crash pad, moving and swinging in the compression swing, crawling, things like that that are going to provide whole body movements and lots of proprioceptive input to the entire body. 


[0:22:17.8] RH: I think sometimes we forget about that and we just try to focus on the mouth when there are so many more things that we need to incorporate to take that pressure of just off of the mouth. Okay, last one is try using a weighted vest, a weighted blanket, a compression shirt, a compression bed sheet, a weighted compression vest.


[0:22:38.3] JH: Try all the things. 


[0:22:39.7] RH: There is so many things to try. Try that compression that input to the rest of the body if you can’t do those big movements or you finished doing those big movements. Try adding something like that to your sit-down tasks and see if that makes a difference. 


[0:22:53.8] JH: You know, we did mention this already but let’s just talk about it a little bit more, teaching your child about what they’re doing and how it’s affecting their mood and their sensory systems. Talking about why they’re chewing on their pencil, talking about why they’re making unexpected noises and along with that, teaching your child about socially expected behaviors and how to replace unexpected behaviors. Talking about how it’s unexpected to hum during quiet time in class, let’s try something else instead. 


[0:23:26.1] RH: Or let’s hum while we’re at recess or standing in line waiting to go out to recess. You know, it is unexpected to chew your pencil apart, so let’s try chewing our gum instead.


[0:23:36.8] JH: Yep, talk about what they feel when they chew, so if they’re chewing on their pencil, you can talk to them and say, “I notice you’re chewing on your pencil a lot. Do you know why you do that? Do you feel nervous or anxious when you’re working on a writing task and that causes you to chew on your pencil? Does chewing on your pencil help you focus? Do you not even know how you feel when you chew on the pencil?” Let’s talk about that. 


[0:24:03.3] RH: Yeah, our kiddos won’t be able to connect it to a feeling but it’s very important to try to help your kiddo connect it to a feeling, so that way they know what they need and what they’re seeking and what they can do instead. 


[0:24:15.6] JH: Yep, totally. 


[0:24:16.7] RH: Like we said earlier, when you notice that ask them if they notice it. Ask them to figure out what they can do instead, have options of alternatives available and plentiful and make it fun, make it engaging. 


[0:24:31.3] JH: Yeah, we don’t want any of these ideas that we’re giving you, we don’t want them to be like a consequence or a punishment. 


[0:24:40.3] RH: These kids should be in trouble for chewing. 


[0:24:42.4] JH: Yeah, these are just tools and strategies and your child is seeking oral motor input for a reason, right? Let’s teach them about that reason and let’s teach them what they can do to get that same input in a more expected way. 


[0:24:56.9] RH: Boom, I don’t think we need to say anything more. 


[0:24:59.0] JH: Okay, well then that’s it. Thanks for joining us. 


[0:25:00.8] RH: All right, if you have questions, if you love this episode, take a screenshot while you’re listening and share it with your friends, your families, your in-laws, your parents, your grandparents, your uncles and aunts, teachers, principals. 


[0:25:13.7] JH: Basically everyone you know. 


[0:25:16.0] RH: I feel like a lot of kiddos can benefit from having some of these tools in place. 


[0:25:20.9] JH: Oh, for sure. 


[0:25:21.8] RH: Even kiddos without diagnosis. 


[0:25:24.2] JH: Yeah like Logan. 


[0:25:26.2] RH: Yeah, so there you go. Enjoy and we will chat with you next week. 


[0:25:30.7] JH: Okay, bye. 




[0:25:32.6] RH: Thank you so much for listening to All Things Sensory by Harkla. If you want more information on anything we mentioned in the show, head over to harkla.co/podcast to get all of the shownotes.


[0:25:43.5] JH: We always have the shownotes and links plus full transcripts to make following along as easy as possible for everyone. If you have follow-up questions, the best place to ask those is in the comments on the shownotes or message us on our Instagram account, which is @harkla_family. If you just search Harkla, you’ll find us. 


[0:26:03.0] RH: Like we mentioned before, our podcast listeners get 10 percent off of their first order at Harkla, whether it is for one of our digital courses, one of our sensory swings, the discount code “sensory” will save you 10 percent. That code is “sensory.” Head over to harkla.co/sensory to use that code right now so you don’t forget. 


[0:26:25.5] JH: We’re so excited to work together to help create confident kids all over the world and work towards a more happier healthier life. 


[0:26:33.0] RH: All right, we’ll talk to you guys next week. 


[0:26:35.9] JH: Just a friendly reminder: This is general information related to occupational therapy, pediatrics and sensory integration. We do not know you or your child, therefore we do not know any specific needs. Therefore, you should always refer back to your pediatrician and occupational therapist for more information.


Check out our Top 10 Oral Motor Exercises and Why We Love Them


While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.

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