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  • Writer's pictureDonavan Robinson

Chewing the Stress Away: A Take on Navigating ADHD and Neurodivergent Behaviours.

Do you have a drawer full of chewed up pens, or a closet full of T-shirts with the neck chewed out? If so, you may have ADHD or be neurodivergent.



Today, we're going to talk about one common behaviour that many neurodivergent individuals can relate to: chewing on things like pens and shirts. If you find yourself engaging in this behaviour as a way to regulate your nervous system, and you suspect you may have ADHD or another neurodivergent disorder, you're not alone. Let's dive into this topic and look at some practical tips for finding suitable alternatives that won't be gross or destroy your things!


First, let's acknowledge the elephant in the room: yes, chewing on pens or shirts may not be the most socially acceptable behaviour. But hey, when you're in the throes of sensory overload or trying to cope with racing thoughts, sometimes you just gotta chew on something. It's like a fidget spinner for your mouth!


There are several possible reasons why individuals with ADHD may engage in this behaviour:

  1. Sensory stimulation: Chewing on objects can provide sensory stimulation, which can help individuals with ADHD self-regulate and focus. It may help them manage sensory overload and improve concentration by providing an outlet for their excess energy.

  2. Fidgeting: Chewing on objects can serve as a form of fidgeting, which is a way for individuals with ADHD to channel their excess energy and restlessness. It can help them release nervous energy and improve their ability to stay focused.

  3. Impulsivity: Individuals with ADHD often struggle with impulse control, and chewing on objects may be a impulsive behaviour that provides a momentary distraction or relief from boredom or restlessness.

  4. Anxiety reduction: Chewing on objects may serve as a coping mechanism for managing anxiety or stress. It can provide a form of self-soothing and help individuals with ADHD feel calmer and more relaxed.

  5. Lack of awareness: Some individuals with ADHD may not even be fully aware that they are chewing on objects, as it can become an automatic or unconscious behaviour that they engage in without realizing it.

It's important to note that chewing on objects can have negative consequences, such as damaging teeth, gums, or objects being chewed on, and it's generally not socially acceptable in many settings. If you or someone you know is struggling with this behavior, it may be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional or therapist for appropriate strategies and interventions to manage it effectively.


So, how do you find suitable alternatives that won't gross people out or damage your belongings? Here are some ideas:

  1. Chewelry: Move over jewelry, it's time for chewelry! Chewelry refers to wearable items that are designed specifically for chewing. They come in various shapes, sizes, and textures, and are made from safe, non-toxic materials that are meant to be chewed on. From necklaces to bracelets, there are plenty of stylish options that can discreetly satisfy your chewing needs.

  2. Silicone straws: Silicone straws are not just for sipping on your favou beverages. They can also double up as chewable straws! They are soft, flexible, and safe to chew on, making them a great option for satisfying your sensory needs while also being functional.

  3. Gum or chewable snacks: If you prefer something edible, sugar-free gum or chewable snacks can be a good option. Not only do they provide a satisfying chewing sensation, but they also come in different flavors to suit your taste buds. Just be mindful of the ingredients and avoid anything that may cause allergies or other health concerns.

  4. Chewable stress toys: There are plenty of stress relief toys on the market that are designed to be chewed on. From chewable pencils to chewable stress balls, these toys can help you channel your need to chew into a more acceptable and fun outlet.

  5. Chewable jewelry for pets: If you have furry friends at home, you might be familiar with chewable toys designed for pets. These toys are made from durable materials that are safe for pets to chew on, and they can also serve as a suitable alternative for humans who need something to chew on. Just make sure to keep them separate from your pet's toys!

In conclusion, if you find yourself needing to chew on things like pens or shirts as a way to regulate your nervous system, know that you're not alone. It's a common behavior among neurodivergent individuals, and there are plenty of alternatives that can help you channel this need in a more socially acceptable and safe way. So, embrace your quirks, keep your sense of humor intact, and find the chewable solution that works best for you. Happy chewing!

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