Monday, May 30, 2011

It's Double Bubble at our house.

It's no secret that my son has anxiety problems.  He fidgets, bounces from foot to foot, gets up, sits down, gets up and sits down again.  He's in constant motion until he falls asleep.  Even then, he's rubbing the blanket to determine the texture and thread count. 

I don't know why I was shocked when he started up with vocal stims.  But I was.  He had a bout with strep a while ago and from that he developed a habit cough which spiraled into a full fledged stim.  At one point he was up to over fifty coughs in under two minutes.  I stopped counting after that. 

After school turned it into a complete cluster asking him to stop, to get a drink or eat some magic mints we went into habit reversal mode.  Step one: ignore the problem habit.  That's as far as we got.  The stim went down but not away.

He started to have other vocal noises--chirps, boops, squeaks, raspberries, beeps, you get the idea.  After visiting with our child psychologist, we came up with the idea to use gum to help with the stims.  Give him the gum to transfer the stim. 

It seems to be working.

He has a preference though.  It has to be Double Bubble.  Not Hubba Bubba.  Is there a difference?  You bet your ass there is.  I made that mistake exactly once.  Double Bubble.  No exceptions.  So I've taken stock in Double Bubble and supplied the school with their own stock pile. 

We did have one blip on the gum thing.  School has a rule and it specifically states: "No chewing gum on school premises."  We had to do some pretty hard work on letting him know it was OK for him to chew the gum while at school. 

And he's going to need a mandible replacement at the rate he's chewing.  He's been averaging seven pieces of gum a day while at school so I've been bringing them in a new bag of gum every week and a half. 

The noises are down and it seems to be working so I'll brave the eternal fires of hell (WalMart) to get his beloved gum.

For future reference, Target only stocks Hubba Bubba.  Yes, I was that desperate not to go to WallyWorld. 

Don't judge me.   

Now I'm off to get more Double Bubble.

Note:  I know I'm using terms loosely here.  Things such as stim, habit, tics.  Honestly, to me, they basically amount to the same thing.  Things he does to help block or filter stress or help calm him with his anxiety.  I've not put too much emphasis on what the correct vocabulary is but rather why he's doing it and how I can find the right way to help him.  Please excuse my lack of technical adherence on this post.  

I wrote this a while ago and his vocal stims are still present.  He's added new ones such as rolling his bottom lip with his fingers and he's been twitching his neck, mainly on his left side.  He's recently added a vigorous head shake.  I know it's all anxiety related to school winding down as they decrease significantly after being home for the weekends.  

We're all ready for school to be over soon!  Two more days, a week off, then we're taking this hot mess on the road to Sanibel.  Fair warning if you live in the vicinity......


  1. Sanibel? Florida? That's within a 150 mile radius of me. Is that going to be far enough away?

  2. You deserve Sanibel!! I'm pretty sure there are no deer and if you turn the volume up really loud on Robots, maybe the kids won't hear it when the birds hit the windshield (assuming you are driving of course)... ;)

    I can see my little guy going thru the same thing with all his verbal stims, touching lips, grinding teeth. Hope he passes this phase soon! By the way, I notice you are good a displaying all the goodies. I have a craving for a Reeses now!

  3. I think the gum thing is a great idea. When I was a high school teacher, I noticed that some of the kids seemed to need it to concentrate. As long as they don't stick under desks and all it was fine with me. Glad you found a solution.

  4. I will not judge you! We LOVE gum! We brush our teeth and in between, we chew gum! Our O/T told us it helps him to 'organize' (ie. get focused & more together) when necessary and it absolutely does. So glad it's helping your guy too. And you gave me a good idea - when we start school next year I might bring a big jar in, too. Not sure what their rules are, though... Enjoy Sanibel and I will try not to be too jealous.

  5. I definately won't judge you. We love gum here!

  6. The tics are involuntary. That's the difference between stimming and tics. You can't help tics, and might not even know they are happening. Stimming is, as you say, an attempt to alleviate anxiety.

    Studies have shown that allowing students to chew gum during tests appears to lead to higher test scores. You can mention that to your school if they start to have a problem about it. In fact, our entire school district hands out packs of gum when we do our big standardized testing!

    Way to go with the gum chewing!

  7. Ok...I gotta ask.....I read EVERYWHERE that Americans in general hate Walmart - we don't have nay here but I would LOVE to know why they are so bad? lol

    Oh and....YAY for finding a replacement to the stim!

  8. My son chews Double Bubble as a calmer/organizer, too. We even got it in his IEP. We buy the big buckets. He also chews Big Red, (he likes the hot cinnamon flavor) but it's more expensive, so we reserve that for church.

  9. I've found that if I MUST go to WallyWorld, I go late at night when all the other yahoos are at the local bar. Oh sorry, Did I just judge? Whoops!

  10. My son's teacher suggested Hubba Bubba because she wanted him to have a wad of gum in his mouth that he really had to work with his jaw. He hates it too!! He likes the fruity stuff instead, so we give him 2 pieces at a time.

    Are you driving to Sanibel? You are one brave mama! Rock on with your bad self.

    @Fi - check out That's why.

  11. You all need a vacation!! I hope you manage to squeeze in some drinks too.

    Can't wait to hear what kinds of weird things happen on your trip. C'mon, you know they will.

  12. @Danielle--I think so. My swath of destruction usually as a 7-10 mile radius!

    @Karen V.--We're flying. You just know something going to get sucked thru the engine....

    @Christy--I'll let him know to put it back in the wrapper. ;) I actually have social stories on how to chew gum...

    @AllieF--I'm glad we're not the only gum chewing family out there!!!

    @Amber--why, thank you.

    @Not Just Another Mother Blogger!--yeah, that's the thing, it's just so hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Thanks for the info. I'm glad to know the gum is doing more than wearing down his teeth!

    @Fi--it's complicated. They usually have the best prices but the whole experience is weird. Usually icky people doing weird things and no matter what time I go I wind up waiting in line and the employees just don't care. I prefer Target but where I live the Target superstore doesn't have as much stuff as the WalMart. I think there's a web page---photos of walmart or something like that---it best details what happens there.

    @Papa Bear--we get the big tubs too! I like how you use the cinnamon gum for church--good idea!

    @Anonymous--I go either late at night or early AM. Usually those at the bar are still sleeping/hungover... :)

    @Grace--good idea with the 2 pieces! And THANKS!! That was what I was thinking of for Fi!!!
    We're flying...

    Gurl, if you're ever in KC we need to get drinks...

    @Flannery--I'm planing on adult beverages...and lots of them. I don't doubt for a second something freaky-deaky's going to happen.

  13. My son does the coughing thing and other stims, and I'm afraid all I do is ignore them at mo, though I realise I may have to tackle them at some point. I'm much more concerned about the behaviour that results from his anxiety :(

  14. That kind of thing is so brutal. My guy usually develops these in August. I don't know why. Two years ago it was burping, which was disgusting. Last year it was snorting, which completely destroyed me. I can't wait to see what he comes up with this year.

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