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Sophie, my daughter is 5 and has Down's Syndrome. Since teething she has chewed her fingers.


  • EmmaandSophieEmmaandSophie Member Posts: 3
    Sophie, my daughter is 5 years old and has Down's Syndrome. Since teething she has chewed her fingers. She still does it. All the time. Her fingers are mis-shaped and covered in raised pads. It is also getting in the way of her listening skills at school. It is driving myself and my husband to distraction. We are running out of patience and are taking away toys and TV until she stops - she can't help herself though. So this isn't working effectively. My peadiatrician's comment was 'our children can't be perfect'. Yes I think I realised/ accepted that a long time ago! I am telling her all the time, not to do it! So I also feel guilty for not coping with the situation positively but I have a very demanding toddler that fights for my attention all the time. I ask every single professional I come across and repeat the question at every meeting and still no-one has given me any support or advice. Please can you point me the right direction?
  • BusyOTBusyOT Member Posts: 76
    Hi Emma, sounds like a very frustrating situation for you all. I'm not a paediatric OT and therefore my advice is only from my experience with adults. There are a couple of things you could try, though I suspect you probably already have. I'll just make a list of my thoughts and you can pick through and ask more questions if you think the comment might be relevant to Sophie.
    - something else to chew on - chewy tubes
    - something else to fiddle with - sensory toys
    - strong smell on hands to make it an unpleasant experience
    - looking at the times she does it most to try and understand the function - e.g calming herself when stressed, comfort/habit when watching TV, escape from other tasks (that are difficult, e.g listening)
    - a structured behavioural intervention programme, with rewards for not doing it (you may be unintentionally re-enforcing the behaviour by telling her all the time not to do it)
    - depending on her communication level she may also not be processing your message (don't bite your finger COULD be processed as bite your finger!!). It's really interesting that in proper assessment the amount of people with a learning disability that don't process the negative parts of statements. We always advise that you say "walk" rather than "don't run". using that theory you could tell her to "put her hands on her knees" or "squeeze your fingers" (that might also give her additional sensory input if that is why she is doing it).
    Hope some of these suggestions help. Please let me know if you want more info about any of them. Good luck and sorry I can't be more specific.
  • BusyOTBusyOT Member Posts: 76
    Hi Emma. The message above doesn't flow particularly well, sorry. It let me do it as a list in the posting box but has run it all together in the proper post! Sorry. hope you can understand it.
  • EmmaandSophieEmmaandSophie Member Posts: 3
    Hello, Thank you for all your ideas. I do think Sophie chews out of habit and to calm herself. And to escape, especially listening. Your advice on processing is really helpful, interesting as well! I'll try the 'squeeze your fingers' route and let you know how we get on. I've been distracting her and that has been working a bit better. We have previously tried vibrating toys but to no avail. Will see how we get on. I really appreciate your advice. Thank you, Emma
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