A SentioCHEWS Chewable Necklaces Product Review
By Elizabeth O’Keeffe
One big feature of life for many children on the autism spectrum, such as my six year old daughter Melon, is the need to gain oral sensory input through chewing. Chewing can help children with autism and/or sensory issues manage their anxiety and boredom and to better engage with the world around them. Chewing can cause problems though – damage to clothing, furniture, toys and school equipment has a financial cost, it can draw negative attention to the child in public places, and also there are potential health risks from chewing unsuitable materials.
There are a few companies in the marketplace who manufacture and distribute specially designed chewable jewelry. One of these products, the one I’m reviewing today is the SentioCHEWS chewable necklaces available exclusively through kidcompanions.com.
The ordering process was clear and simple, KidCompanions communicated with me quickly, warmly and efficiently. Even though I’m overseas (I’m from the UK, and the company is based in Canada), our products arrived promptly and well-packaged so no damage occurred to them in transit.
So what did we get in our package?
We received two individually packaged flower shaped SentioCHEWS pendants on nylon lanyards, with safety breakaway clasps to minimize choking hazards. They were of a size that could not be swallowed by a child my daughter’s age. Each SentioCHEW necklace had its own set of clear instructions, and our package also contained a separate instruction sheet, along with business/information cards for KidCompanions that included a discount code for subsequent orders.
The SentioCHEWS were in bright primary colors, Melon straight away identified them as being something for her, and scuttled off upstairs grinning with one of the packets. Initially she was unsure about the texture−the smooth rubber feel of the chew is different to the rough-surfaced objects she usually mouths. Within a few minutes though, she realized that the chew gave her teeth a huge amount of resistance and set about one of the most vigorous chewing sessions I’ve ever seen her do. She bent the chew, gnawed at it from every angle and rubbed it onto her gums. The chew was completely unmarked afterwards, and her mouth and gums weren’t hurt in anyway. The chew was easily cleaned afterwards.
Melon’s little brother, aged 2 1/2, got in on the act too, and gave the blue SentioCHEW a thorough test. He’s not on the spectrum, but he’s a regular tooth grinder, and often mouths non food objects. He certainly seemed to find the texture of the SentioCHEW satisfying.
I let Melon take one of the SentioCHEWS to school, and staff there reported that she used it several times throughout the school day both as part of a planned sensory break, and as a distraction technique for a group learning situation that she was finding difficult.
There was only one minor issue I could identify−the SentioCHEWS are marketed as jewelry to be worn and used discreetly. Due to tactile sensory issues, Melon doesn’t tolerate necklaces or bracelets, so refused to wear the SentioCHEW as intended. This wasn’t a problem as I simply added the chew to the small bag of sensory toys that she takes to school, and within the home she simply carried it around with her. This meant that she could still independently and discreetly use the SentioCHEW as needed.
I mentioned this to the manager of KidCompanions and she sent this response (below). It gave me confidence that KidCompanions, through their own lived experiences of special needs parenting, genuinely understand the challenges faced by their customer base, and as a result are willing and able to work flexibly and creatively to maximise the practicality of their products:
If parents email me about this issue, I will offer to switch the regular breakaway to a cotton clip-on. HOWEVER we’ve even removed the clip-on part completely a few times and simply made a “loop” that can be grasped or hitched into button holes or straps. That could work as well if a child might be inclined to pull off a clip-on and munch on the clip end, which tends to be my family’s issue with clip-ons!
So the SentioCHEWS are tough, they appeal to children with sensory issues, and they were soothing and stimulating for Melon in a variety of situations and environments. The company staff was friendly and efficient.
*Liz O’Keeffe is a stay-at-home mom to a beguiling six year old daughter who is autistic, and a tornado preschooler son. They live in Birmingham, UK, with her Husband, their dog and two cats. She likes sleep, sunshine and coffee, and gets precious little of the first two!! Liz writes about daily life with autism, parenting and life on her Cat on a Trampoline Blog and Facebook Page. She is also a member of Geek Club Books’ Mighty League Moms.
**Images courtesy of Liz O’Keeffe