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Chewing Aids for Children with SEN/ALN: Benefits and Options

Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) or Additional Learning Needs (ALN) often face unique challenges that can impact their sensory processing and behavioural responses. One common behaviour observed in these children is chewing on non-food items. Chewing aids, also known as chewies or oral motor tools, can be beneficial in addressing these behaviours. These aids provide a safe and appropriate outlet for chewing, which can help with sensory regulation, focus, anxiety reduction, and oral motor development. This article explores the benefits of chewing aids, the different strengths available, and how to choose the right one for your child.

Benefits of Chewing Aids

  1. Sensory Regulation: Chewing aids offer sensory input that helps children with sensory processing difficulties to regulate their responses to sensory stimuli. The proprioceptive input from chewing can be calming and organizing for the nervous system.
  2. Focus and Attention: Chewing can help children concentrate better. The repetitive motion and sensory feedback can provide a calming effect, enabling children to focus on tasks such as homework, reading, or classroom activities.
  3. Anxiety Reduction: Chewing on a safe, designated tool can help reduce anxiety and stress. The act of chewing releases endorphins, which can produce a calming effect and alleviate feelings of nervousness or agitation.
  4. Oral Motor Development: For children with oral motor delays or weaknesses, chewing aids can strengthen jaw muscles and improve coordination. This can be particularly beneficial for speech development and eating skills.
  5.  Reduction of Harmful Chewing Behaviours: Providing a safe alternative to chewing on clothing, pencils, or other inappropriate items can protect children from potential harm and reduce damage to personal belongings.

Different Strengths and Types of Chewing Aids

Chewing aids come in various strengths and types to meet the diverse needs of children with SEN/ALN. It is important to choose the right one based on the child's chewing habits, sensory needs, and oral motor strength.

  1. Soft Chewies: Soft chewies are designed for mild chewers who need gentle sensory input. These aids are typically made of pliable materials that are easy to compress and provide a soft, soothing feel.Ideal for: Children who chew lightly or use chewing primarily for comfort rather than intense sensory input.
  2. Medium Chewies: Medium-strength chewies offer a balanced level of resistance, suitable for moderate chewers. They provide enough resistance to satisfy sensory needs without being too hard on the teeth and jaw. Such as the ARK Chew Brick Ideal for: Children who chew moderately and require a balance between softness and durability. 
  3. Firm Chewies: Firm chewies are designed for strong chewers who need substantial sensory input and jaw work. These aids are made of durable materials that can withstand intense chewing without breaking down.Ideal for: Children with strong chewing needs who tend to chew vigorously or have high sensory-seeking behaviours.
  4. Extra-Firm Chewies: Extra-firm chewies are the most durable and offer the highest level of resistance. They are made for children who have extremely strong chewing habits and need maximum oral sensory input. Such as the ARK XXT Firm. Ideal for: Very strong chewers who require substantial sensory feedback and durable materials that can withstand intense use.

Choosing the Right Chewing Aid

When selecting a chewing aid for a child with SEN/ALN, consider the following factors:

  1. Chewing Habits: Observe the child's chewing behaviour to determine the appropriate strength. Note whether they chew lightly, moderately, or vigorously.
  2. Sensory Needs: Consider the child's sensory preferences and needs. Some children may prefer a soft, soothing texture, while others may need a firm, resistant material to satisfy their sensory cravings.
  3. Safety and Durability: Ensure the chewing aid is made from non-toxic, BPA-free materials and is designed to withstand the child's chewing strength. The aid should be safe to use and easy to clean.
  4. Shape and Design: Chewing aids come in various shapes and designs, such as necklaces, bracelets, and handheld tools. Choose a design that is comfortable and convenient for the child to use.
  5. Professional Guidance: Consult with an occupational therapist or speech therapist who specialises in sensory processing and oral motor skills. They can provide recommendations based on the child's specific needs and monitor progress.


Chewing aids can be a valuable tool for children with SEN/ALN, providing essential sensory input, aiding in focus and anxiety reduction, and supporting oral motor development. By understanding the different strengths and selecting the right aid based on individual needs, parents and carers can help their children manage their chewing behaviours effectively. Fledglings is proud to offer a wide range of chewing aids from leading specialist brands such as ARK, Chewigem and Chewbuddy,  designed to meet the diverse needs of children with SEN/ALN, ensuring they have access to safe, effective, and supportive tools for their sensory and oral motor needs.

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