(This post contains affiliate links because it’s rather hard to find this stuff: it’s easier to just link it and save you time.)
Dear parents of ASD and SPD girls,
If you’re like me, you’ve probably looked at the selection of ARK chewelry and despaired because they’re really expensive and your fashionista daughter wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a dog tag design even if it was purple. And since we need something like 20 necklaces because she keeps taking them off and losing them, it’s just not a great choice for us even though her brother absolutely loves his Krypto-bite and brick.
But…we have to do something, because the next time she licks the length of the entire glass case in the department store’s jewelry section, the cashier just might calls the cops on us.
What to do? Make your own, of course!
(note: this probably won’t work for heavy chewers, as the silicone isn’t the tough silicone that ARK uses for its Krypto-bite gems.)
Our 3-year-old Princess has sensory issues. I wouldn’t call her SPD, but she clearly has seeking-type behaviors. Her coat collars are constantly wet, she wads her shirts up and slurps on them, and every little toy she finds goes into her mouth. Including a penny she picked up off the ground. Two x-rays later I finally admitted that my only “normal” child has a problem.
She has a turtle chewy but won’t wear it. I made her chewy bead necklaces, but she keeps losing them. Time for a better solution.
I watched her for a while and figured out that she needs a chewy with depth: something that her back molars can chew on and that her tongue could explore. I headed to Amazon determined to find something that would work, but that was girly enough that she would want to wear it.
I hate pink: she loves it. I hate sparkly: she adores bling. I abhor the mall: she asks to go there. I would question if she was switched at birth, but because I had no meds for her birth (not by choice!) I’m positive she didn’t go anywhere without me.
I didn’t find everything that I wanted. I’ll be honest, the selection is pitifully thin unless you’re willing to order in bulk from China. I’ve contacted Fire Mountain Gems (a beading supplier) and asked if they were interested in carrying the loose beads, pointing out that the mommy/teething necklace and ASD market are ripe for beaders to exploit. They’re interested, but it takes time to implement.
The most important thing to remember when picking out chewy beads is that they need to be made from food-grade silicone. That means it’s toxin free in a way that regular silicone is not.
Here are links for the beads that I’ve personally purchased and used. (note, these links will take you to Amazon.)
You will also need safety clasps that break apart under pressure if your child is young like mine, as well as satin cord for the necklaces.
Your local craft store will probably have a better, cheaper supply of satin cord, but I haven’t been able to find the clasps locally.
If you’re making chewelry for younger kids (and for those who need extra texture,) try the pearl knotting technique of knotting the cord between each bead. That means if it breaks, only one bead will fall off. My general rule-of-thumb is to double the amount of cord that the necklace needs to fit correctly, and then add a bit more for just in case.
Of course, if your child is older, then they may love crafting their own chewy designs to wear.
For satin cording, sear the edge in flame for a brief second to prevent fraying. It melts quickly, be cautious!
For knots that you want to be permanent (like end knots or clasps tie-off knots) turn the whole thing in the flame until it melts together a little.
For flower beads: these are a pain with the cording I had. Get thinner than 20mm cord, or sear an inch of the cord so that it doesn’t get stuck.
Breakaway clasps: slide on the cord facing the correct direction, then tie off, sear, and pull the knot through into the barrel.
Always remember that this is a possible choking hazard for young kids if a bead falls off. Necklaces can be a strangulation hazard for young children, so make sure you use a break-away clasp just in case. Never let a baby use this kind of teether/chewy unattended.