My name is Lorraine, I’m 34 years old and I’m married with two children. My youngest child is Joe; he is 10 and loves football and X-Box. My eldest child is Jamie she is 12 and currently loves Undertale. Jamie is on the autistic spectrum and her obsessions change. She has been obsessed with Undertale since it was released, she lives and breathes it! Another obsession, which she is totally unaware of, is Chewing. From an early age, she would chew anything she could get her hands on. When she started school it was her school uniform, polo shirt collars, jumper cuffs and when she couldn’t chew those it was her hands, keys, she even loved to eat sand. School were concerned and when we met with SALT we were advised to find some chewelry.
So we ordered some from Canada. However, it took weeks to arrive and was far from discreet. At school she stood out, kids kept asking what the weird thing around her neck was. So at this point, I tried to make something myself whilst doing more and more research to see what was available.
Eventually, I found a website called “Gumigem” through the online network, Netmums. Gumigem is designed with teething babies in mind; it had stylish necklaces and bracelets for mums to wear and babies to chew and did not look any different from modern jewellery! Bingo! We ordered a necklace and it came the next day from the UK. It cost around £10 and it looked really cool. Cool enough for a seven-year-old to wear at school. That day I actually went into school once the post had arrived (so mid-morning) because I was so excited. The teacher gave it to Jamie and at the end of the day instead of being called in to speak about Jamie’s behaviour, I was called in to speak about the new necklace and the positive effects it had already had!
I emailed Gumigem immediately as I felt I needed to thank someone, I’d been looking for this simple solution but it was so hard to find. I also explained that there was a whole other community out there that would benefit from these products. It was at this point that I started to work with Jenny from Gumigem to develop Chewigem. We wanted to keep the brands separate, as they were both such big communities in their own right.
We found that with Chewigem, chewing became a positive rather than a negative!
How Chewigem Has Help Jamie
The positive effects that Chewigem has had for Jamie (and others) consist of:
1. Increased concentration- helps to keep individual focused on the task in hand
2. Relieves stress and anxiety- helps to self regulate
3. Can be used to increase low tone- helps develop the chewing muscles
4. Hand to eye coordination
5. A safe alternative to other items
Chewigems have also been used to wean children off dummy’s, stop nail biting and hair biting, stop teeth grinding and much more! Adults who wear our jewellery love the fact that they can fiddle and chew discreetly in the workplace or social situations without standing out.
Chewing is very difficult to manage; some people find it expensive and frustrating. If you have a child chewing their school uniform daily this can be costly, not to mention the saliva that can be lost doing this. Chewigem is a safe alternative. You can’t stop people from chewing, it is a seeking behaviour. However, I would recommend providing a safe and suitable alternative. You will not only save inappropriate items from being chewed but you will also see other benefits as mentioned above.