Oral sensitivity disorder is related to the perception of sensory input in the oral cavity or mouth. The well-coordinated processing is done by the combination of three individual sensory system, which includes proprioception, tactile and taste. Oral sensory processing also plays a vital role in producing clear speech. The tactile sense gives feedback on temperature or texture or how it feels. Proprioception is based on the process input given by the jaw (in oral sensory) this happens mainly during the activity of chewing and sucking. The sensory receptors in the tongue give an idea about taste. If any of the above mentioned system affected, human may show either over, under or no sensitivity to the oral input.
Many of the parents are struggled with their children’s eating habit, especially parents of children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Kids with healthy oral sensory processing are able to adjust with food when texture changes and taste changes. They are also willing to try new food habits.
But there are some children who are over or under responsive in receiving oral input. Children who are hypersensitive to sensory input may avoid some textures or tastes. Along with their defensiveness to food, they also start to refuse the eating in utensils. They find it difficult to accept new foods. They often gag chokes or drools. They always prefer a specific texture or taste of foods. At times they can’t even accept size change. Along with food preferences they dislike brushing.
There is also a condition where children are hypo sensitive to food or they have seeking behaviours. These children don’t care about the texture, taste or edibility of the oral input. They possess excessive licking, mouthing and biting behaviours. They also bite others, toys especially when they are irritated or excited. Mouthing of non-food items are a common feature of this category.
Some children also find difficulty in chewing, blowing and sucking. They also fail to hold food in the mouth. Children who have oral sensory issues shows problems in mouth coordinating movements, oral motor planning and speech production.
Activities to improve oral sensory disorder:-
- To improve awareness of oral input we can give vibration to cheeks and lips with vibrating toys or vibrating toothbrush.
- Improve blowing skills using bubbles, balloons and candles.
- Chewing activities with crunchy food items, dried fruits, organic chewing gums.
- Introduce food with different tastes and different temperature.
- Improve sucking skills using straw, lollipops.
- Imitation of exaggerated mouth movements and funny faces.
- For children who avoid or hypersensitive to food- gum massage if the child doesn’t allow it start from the cheek along with the gum line first.
- Increase the tolerance of vibrating brush.