How Chewelry Saved Me $14.99+ a Month

He came home from school each day with holes in his shirt. He destroyed countless pencils, board game coins, and “reusable” plastic straws. But the worst: the perpetual trips to GameStop to replace the myriad styluses (stylii?) that were nibbled to mere nubs. Oh, I tried ultimatums, tried using economic substitutes, and even tried begging and whining :)

The truth is, he can’t help it. Children with autism have difficulty in regulating their sensory experiences. They can have hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to various sensations. Excessive chewing is an example of sensory hyposensitivity.

Through a social media connection, I found Chewelry by Kid Companions and was quite intrigued! Other chewing “redirect” attempts did not stick for us. In their own words, “Kid Companions is a chewable and wearable fidget that is safe, stylish and effective. It’s the perfect alternative to fidget toys and chewys.”

We ordered one for home and one for school, and I got amazing news the first day he tried it!

“Mom! I did all my morning work today! I could concentrate!”

Wow! Shirt without holes: check. Pencils intact: check. Stars achieved for completed morning work: check. Never before had a sensory item made such an impact upon its first use.

Unfortunately, Justin’s best friend also thought it was super cool. When I arrived at school the next day he was wearing it around HIS neck. Blech! Since Justin had two (yes, both previously used), he thought it was okay to share.

One social story and one cleaned and returned Chewelry piece later, we’re back in business. I no longer find pencils gnawed to the lead (attack of the killer beavers?) lying around his room, I don’t have to keep sewing shirts, and best of all, one pack of styluses has lasted over two months, saving me $29.98 so far! Yeah!

Trippin’ Over Road Trip FAIL

So… what do you get when you cross a small Ford Focus, three children (one of which likes her music LOUD), a 125+ lb. Alaskan Malamute in heat, a child with Autism and Sensory Processing issues, and a last-minute four-hour road trip? Road trip FAIL.

At least I can laugh about it now. Let’s hope my son can, too!

You see, I knew better. I KNOW better. I post daily inspiring tips, quotes, and updates on Facebook and Twitter about how to prepare for doing virtually ANYTHING with your Autistic child. Yet, here I was – frenzied, overbooked, and trying to leave town at the last minute – totally unprepared.

The problem? I didn’t arm him with any necessary tools or supports against the boredom of a long trip, his sister’s loud music, being cramped and unable to stretch out when his body needed it, the lack of available favorite snacks and drinks on the road, the chaos of a hotel room, and the absence of a schedule while there.

The result? A child that screamed, threw toys around, harassed the dog, twisted himself up in his seat belt, and repeatedly kicked the back of the driver’s seat while I was trying to safely operate our vehicle. In the hotel he was hyper, loud, and severely discombobulated when it came to what he expected would happen while we were there.

What my daughter, her friend and I saw and were annoyed by, of course, can’t possibly compare to the discomfort, frustration, and confusion he experienced from being thrust into this situation unarmed. Oh, and when you ask your child if they want to bring their favorite supports and they say “no” – PACK THEM ANYWAY! They don’t know that they will need them!

So here’s a look back at what I could have done right (and will do next time!):

Weigh it out

I was so concerned with getting on the road on time that I did not prepare. How long would it really have taken for me to pack additional items and take the time to talk to him about what was happening? How much time would it have added to our trip to make a few more stops? I’m sure the dog would have appreciated it, too!

For a few extra minutes of planning and preparing, I could have avoided frustration for all of us during this trip. LESSON LEARNED!