A Glimpse into our autism: Chewing

Dear friend,

Yesterday he ruined another new jumper. His sleeves and collars seem to be permanently wet at the moment. I know he is self soothing, I know he is using it as a way to deal with his anxieties but I must admit that it is making me feel anxious.

Many people don't understand. If he was still a toddler then it would be easier but all people see is a tall, handsome young boy eating his clothes and think why aren't you making him stop or he needs to grow out of that ?! The invisible nature of his disability is taunting us again...
Two hands holding jigsaw pieces together

Chewing is his form of stimming. Something that he does to relieve anxiety and comfort himself.

Stimming is a repetitive body movement that self-stimulates one or more senses in a regulated manner.

When everything around him seems frightening or out of his control the repetitive nature of chewing can help him self soothe and stop a meltdown from happening. We understand and I strongly feel that he should not be stopped from stimming (as long as it is not harmful) but not everyone gets it!

We have experienced a chewing obsession before (when he was 7)  a speech therapist recommended we use chew necklaces to support him, to save his clothes and help our bank balance. They worked! But I did witness one child cruelly snatch the dog tag off his neck on the play yard and ask sneeringly; What is that?

Now he is 10, he does not want to wear the necklace, he is embarrassed and I understand that! But the chewing isn't stopping if anything it is getting worse. At the moment he is not able to control the impulse to chew so we have to look at a way for him to do this safely. And seriously we can't afford to keep replacing his clothes either...

As a mum I am caught between wanting to support my son and wanting to protect him from any potential teasing from others.
Butterfly with coloured jigsaw pieces pattern with text

Perhaps more importantly we need to try and work out what is causing his anxiety and address that. Where is the chewing happening the most? At school or home? How can we help him manage his anxiety better?

Yesterday he ruined another new jumper. His sleeves and collars seem to be permanently wet at the moment. I know he is self soothing, I know he is using it as a way to deal with his anxieties but I must admit that it is making me feel anxious.

Many people don't understand. If he was still a toddler then it would be easier but all people see is a tall, handsome young boy eating his clothes and think why aren't you making him stop or he needs to grow out of that ?! The invisible nature of his disability is taunting us again...



A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore how autism effects us on a day to day basis. Disclaimer:  this is our experience not all autistic people are the same.


In Holland we use Educadora webshop and chewigem to buy the dog tags and chubes



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