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Thumb sucking

SusanDSusanD Member Posts: 2
My 15 year old son who has CP, SLD and coritcally blind still sucks his thumb. He prefers his left hand, but can be ambidextrious as far as this 'skill' is concerned! It is so bad that then thumb nail and thumb itself,is badly damaged and sometimes comes off in places (ouch). He has always tended to put his hands in his mouth. I have tried putting gloves on him and securing the tops to his jumpers with velcro, but he still puts the gloved thumbs in his mouth. He is well stimulated at school and his LSA is constantly 'on his case' to reinforce the no hands in mouth message, but when he is home and 'off duty' it is hard to keep this regime up.


  • JimJamsJimJams Member Posts: 175 Listener
    I dont think it will be easy but maybe speak to a psychologist or someone to help you replace this behaviour with something else, your son must be finding comfort in this, but maybe the attention could be redirected and comfort found in something else, my son constantly runs and screeches as this is comforting to him, but he is not really hurting himself. To reinforce the discomfort of nails falling off etc, why dont you take pictures of the nails at their worst and keep reinforcing sucking thumb with the picture and saying hurt our ouch , this type of association with pictures helps my son who has autism. good luck
  • JimJamsJimJams Member Posts: 175 Listener
    Sorry I just read over your post again, I am unsure what coritically blind means, sorry if I have offended or sounded silly by suggesting taking a picture of the nails. It just a way of reminding and reinforcing the hurting bit I am trying to suggest. Pictures works with my son, along with a picture of the doctor etc as he dislikes going there.
  • SusanDSusanD Member Posts: 2
    Oops, I meant to say 'cortically' blind! Unfortunately my son can't see so pictures won't work. Thank you for your good suggestion anyway. Hopefully it might help someone who has a similar problem with their visually functional child.
  • HeatherHeather Member Posts: 171 Listener
    My son has alot of sensory issues and his mouth is the favourite place to examine anything. But similarly to your son, he chews his fingers, breaking the skin and picking at scabs. His fingers are now mis shapen. But a diversion we found helps is to give him a chewy, a tough rubber toy. OT's gave us some tubing initially that lasted a few months, but he bit through it. Rather similar to a bike inner tube. So we found tough rubber toys and our son happily chews away on them when promoted to fetch one rather than bite his fingers. School don't like it, but agree if is safer than self harming. The next issue is the dribble to mop up!!!!!!!
  • BusyOTBusyOT Member Posts: 76
    I think the tubing Heather mentioned in the last post are Chewy tubes. You can find them on amazon and ebay (or from your OT or SLT - although the SLT might not provide them since you would be using them for a different purpose than they would intend). (In my experience the hammer shape ones are stronger than the P's and Q's). My only worry is ensuring that his jaw is strong enough to chew on the tubes. I usually advise that the individual is only provided with the tube for a short period of time, to ensure that it doesn't become a sensory soother (or dummy to be politically incorrect!)
    The use of the chewy tube (or equivalent) might also help his LSA get "off his case" - I would assume he is chewing for a reason (either developmental stage or sensory) and therefore no amount of "mithering" is going to make a difference!
    Ask for an OT sensory assessment.
  • HeatherHeather Member Posts: 171 Listener
    My son's school have finally got an OT visiting 1 day a week. This is a severe, profound and complex need school and he's been there 5 years! Hospital OT's have given us piles of paperwork and lists of contacts to help with our son's sensory issues and then declared they have no funding to be able to help. But maybe now the school OT has started his assessment we might sort out alot of issues or find some more practical solutions?
  • DebDeb Member Posts: 1
    Hi my daughter also did a lot of damage to her thumb as she has seizures and bites it whilst sucking. You can buy a thumb guard (uk if you google it) on the internet that covers the thumb but still lets air around it so it can breath, its held in place at the wrist and leaves fingers free. Unfortunatly for us our daughter managed to stretch it off, your not supposed to be able to but I was then worried about her circulation to her hand, but you might not have that problem. The other thing we tried but you've probably already tried this was to put no bite on the nail to make it taste bad. Again this didn't work for us because she didn't care about the taste. Sorryit's a late posting but I've just joined.
  • HeatherHeather Member Posts: 171 Listener
    Hi Deb
    Not heard of a thumb guard. Sounds ideal for thumb suckers....doubt my son would tolerate it as it's the sides of his fingers he chews. But I will look it up. School OT sent home 80pages of sensory activities to do with my son and a massage toy. I've done them all and have our own massage toy. Would have been nice to meet and talk to the OT before she wasted so much paper and time, but with only one day a week and 150 pupils at the school, doubt she'll ever have the time. I'm off to Parliament, invited by our local MP to discuss special needs. Could be interesting!?!?!?! Or a lot of nodding in the right places! H
  • JimJamsJimJams Member Posts: 175 Listener
    Good luck with your parliament visit, hope it goes well
  • fairywishesfairywishes Member Posts: 25
    Sorry for lateness in reply. I don't really have anything to add, just wanted to let you know that other people understand. Thanks for all the suggestions here though, I'll try to use some of them too. My daughter who is 6 also sucks her thumbs & fingers all the time till they are red. Just deciding that I might need to look at this, but distracted by some of her other issues!
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