Fingers in mouth

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by SpecialPreskoo, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jan 14, 2008

    Anyone have any tips on how to keep kids (severe to mild delays) from sticking their fingers in their mouth and spreading drool everywhere??

    THANKS!!!
     
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  3. spedtch2

    spedtch2 Rookie

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    Jan 14, 2008

    In the past I have given the student something to chew on, along the lines of plastic tubing, but something that is squeezable. I have safety pinned it to their shirt and they can just grab it when they need to.

    just an idea :)
     
  4. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    Jan 14, 2008

    . . . or they make specific necklaces out of chew-safe stuff that the child can just wear and stick into their mouths at will. similar idea.
     
  5. anewstart101

    anewstart101 Cohort

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    Jan 14, 2008

    I do not like a chew tube as it make a temp problem bigger. I am speaking from the point of view of a mother of a child with special needs and a special education teacher in training. My son started school June 4, 2007 the same day his grandma and my mother passed away. He started chewing on his shirt. She was a big part of his life. He is five and non-verbal.

    The school suggestion was a chew tube connected to his shirt from when he got off the bus to when he go on the bus. When I observed during this time I noticed he had in his mouth the whole time. Stopped chewing his shirt. He chewed this all day long. One day it came home and it was moldy inside of it and he had chewed pieces off. It was disgusting.

    I told the school no more! They needed to take it away. they took it away and the chewing stopped instantly. he has been without it for a few months. Now he has began slowly making forward progress. I can see where it may be beneficial. . .in my sons case it was an excuse to not deal with his issues.

    Stephanie
     
  6. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Jan 15, 2008

    A visual never hurts either. Maybe a picture of fingers in mouth with an X on it?
     
  7. SpecSub

    SpecSub Comrade

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    Jan 15, 2008


    I have to agree. I was an aide last year with moderate to severly disabled children, and I did not like the chewy tubes. In my mind, letting them suck on their fingers would be better because of how gross those tubes get. They're not very hygienic and the saliva ends up all over the students' shirts.

    Do you think your students are sucking on their fingers out of a true need for sensory input, or out of habit (kind of like a toddler with a pacifier?) If it's for sensory input, try to replace that with something else - your OT should have suggestions. If it's out of habit, as I suspect it is with most kids, then try a reward system. We do that with one of my current students who likes to stick his fingers in his mouth. He can earn smiley faces every couple of minutes that he doesn't suck on his fingers. Five smileys earn a minute of playtime with a toy.
     
  8. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jan 16, 2008

    I think with 2 of mine, it is just pure-dee-old habit. We'll be doing circle time and singing, next thing I know fingers are in the mouth.

    I don't know if they would understand a reward system for keeping their fingers out. When we do hands on activities, it isn't quite as bad since fingers are busy and if they do pop in mouth, the activity stops for them. "Oh, fingers in the mouth, you can't play with my toys if your fingers are wet". That kind of stuff. I want to do more hands on things with circle time but fingers are so soppy wet sometimes.

    THANKS For the ideas!! Keep them coming!
     
  9. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Jan 19, 2008

    My "typical" kids have to go wash their hands when we see it... and it doesn't matter if we're in the middle of a story or something, they have their fingers in their mouths, they have to stop whatever they're doing and go wash them. curbs a lot of it because they hate having to stop what they're doing.

    Can you give them a fidget to keep their hands busy so they aren't in their mouths? Kind of a retraining?
     
  10. AuRatio

    AuRatio Rookie

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    Jan 20, 2008

    When I was younger, I did this all the time. Mostly I chewed on my shirt, though when I was younger I would chew on my whole hand (usually not so bad that it would hurt, though sometimes it would).

    What helped me to not chew/suck on my fingers is to keep them busy somehow. One thing I would do is ball my hands up into semi-fists (my hands were balled up, but not tensed as if about to punch) and rotate them around each other. I reverse the direction as necessary. The way I play with rubber bands and hair-ties are similar to this motion.
     
  11. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Jan 27, 2008

    I have one finger sucker and one drooler.

    I need bibs!


    One has sensory issues, and I am slowly prying the fingers away, as he is scheduled to go to kindergarten next fall, and can't have wet, gooey papers!

    the drooler has other DD, and is a 3 but behaves like a typical 2 yr old. I just say, "Close your mouth." all day. He sits there with mouth wide open, like maybe he is a mouth breather? Seems to not notice pool of drool leaking all over the place. So I just use the broken record routine.

    Close your mouth.

    I do seriously wonder what they do at home.
     
  12. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Feb 9, 2008

    I too have tried using the chewy tubes and do not like them. They distract the kids from their work and cause increased drooling from my experience. I've had several students that have this behavior and different things work for different students depending on the cause of the behavior.

    1) I had a student with severe ID who constantly licked his hands. Whenever he was caught licking them I would tell him, "hands down" and make him go wash his hands (great time for practicing hand washing skill too!) :) Also, after instructing him to put his hands down I always praised him when he complied. He eventually caught on and the hand licking stopped. The only time he would do it was when he got really nervous about something.

    2) I have another student with severe ID who puts fingers in his mouth for attention. He knows that when fingers are in his mouth someone will tell him, "hands down" and if he refuses will physically assist him in putting hands down. He enjoys that interaction and just keeps doing it and doing it, SO as hard as it was, I just had to start ignoring the behavior. To my suprise, it worked! No more fingers in the mouth. He'll still try it occassionally. He'll look right at me and slowly put his finger towards his mouth. But I just walk away and ignore it. He stops!

    3) Now another student I have constantly licks his fingers, sucks his thumbs, and flicks his tounge. It is definitely a sensory issue for him. He will comply with a directive for "hands down," or "fingers out of your mouth" but it's a constant problem. I'm still working on him. I try just keeping his hands busy and reminding him "hands down."

    Here's what I would suggest: pick a time of day when they have their fingers in the mouth the most (is it circle time, art time, story time). Whatever time it is, pick that time and consistently reward them for keeping their fingers dry. Start the activity with dry hands (keep a washcloth near by). Set your timer for 30 second or 1 minute intervals (whichever works best) and every minute check their hands to see if they are dry. If they are, lay on the praise and give them a reward (whatever reinforces them, maybe an m&m or goldfish or sticker or whatever you use). If there hands are wet, quickly dry them with the washcloth and tell them to "keep your hands dry," or "no fingers in mouth," and continue the activity. Repeat after the next minute is up and so forth. If you do this consistently, every day during that activity, they will start to connect that when they keep their hands dry they get the sticker )or whatever reinforces them) and hopefully you will have more and more opportunities to reinforce. I hope this helps. I know it's time consuming but well worth the effort if it works. :) Let us know how they progress.
     

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