Biting or chewing on non-edible objects such as the individual’s own hands, fingers, clothes, pens, etc. is very common in individuals with special needs. It is especially common in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is usually triggered from frustration, stress, excitement, and overstimulation. For many of these individuals this, along with other behaviors such as rocking and hand flapping, is called “stimming,” which is also known as self stimulatory behavior. Especially with chewing on non edible objects, there is a significant danger of injuring oneself and one’s teeth as well as introducing dangerous bacteria into their mouths from the objects they are biting on.
It is very very difficult to get an individual to stop this behavior, but here are some ideas on how to protect them and their teeth from harm: