To chew or not to chew

Since she was born Bridget has sucked her finger.24411_1435209567366_4582657_n

Not her thumb, mind you, her finger. It has comforted her from the beginning. Whenever she has been hospitalized we make sure the IV is not in her left hand and if possible not in her hand at all.

The IV is in her foot

The IV is in her foot

Bridget receives such comfort from her finger I have never tried to break the habit.  While I recognize it is cute now at age six (holy crap she is SIX!), it might not be at sixteen. Yet how can I take this one thing away from her?

Her school has recently tried to give Bridget another way to provide that sensory input. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Rather than Bridget doing this6a001-chb8-10-11002

They would like her to use thischewy

I know the rationale, that a “chewy” (as Bridget calls it) is easier to remove than an appendage. That the goal of all of Bridget’s therapies is to make her more “normal”, to fit-in, to make her a part of a society that doesn’t understand she needs the comfort and oral stimulation of her finger (or chewy). The goal is to one day remove the chewy, that she will no longer need it.

Except Bridget cannot tell us why she sucks her finger. We assume it is comforting. We assume it is an symptom of the sensory processing disorder. We do not know for sure why it is important to her. The knowing is important to me. To take it away because we have decided it is not something we want her to do, seems alien to me. Let’s face it, she is not biting people or being self-destructive.

She is sucking her finger.

I am struggling, as always, with trying to change who Bridget is to fit her in to what society thinks is right. I am for inclusion, but at some point don’t we have to accept that this is Bridget.


Red hair, dimples and all.

8 thoughts on “To chew or not to chew

  1. womanunadorned

    Totally agree with you here. It sounds like your instincts as a parent are to let her be. It’s not even clear if the chewie would work, or if it does, if they’d be able to break her from that habit, which would definitely be less “normal” at 16! Lots of people do chew nails and so on, right into adult life. And if she’s right handed then I guess she isn’t going to need that finger so much?


  2. Meg C. DeBoe

    Coincidentally, i just posted about chewing today too! Oral fixation is tough; my daughter sucks her thumb (also at age six), and my son has a pacifier (age three). He has recently taken up the habit of chewing his shirts when he doesn’t have his paci (he only gets it at night). It’s gross. We are also trying a ‘chewy’ alternative. Fingers crossed!


  3. thelatchkeymom

    I don ‘t know what the answer is. My daughter was a thumb sucked, and once we got her to stop that, she became a nail biter. And a shirt chewer – and a pencil biter….ugh! Oral fixations!


  4. Steph

    I agree with you Kerri, why put her through the process of trying to break a habit that makes her happy and comfortable. She has enough to think about and learn, just let her be Bridget, even if Bridget sucks on her finger! It doesn’t bother her, why should it bother anyone else. 🙂


  5. allisonbcarter

    Oh I am so intrigued. Neither of my sons ever sucked (they were terrible self-soothers in general and would only scream their heads off until held). Please keep us updated on how this goes. I wonder if it helps at all…


  6. Autism Mom

    You are so right to want to know the reason she sucks her finger – it could be both the sensation of her finger in her mouth, and her mouth on her finger, and a chewy isn’t going to be able to do both. Once you know, you can think of the best kind of thing to use as an option to her finger. Keep us posted on what you learn, Clever Mom!


  7. tamaralikecamera

    I can’t believe she is six.
    I’m not as surprised by a six-year-old sucking their finger, though! My daughter is five and still does it for comfort every now and then.
    I’d so want to know the reason too. What an interesting topic!



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