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Old 05-13-2009, 08:18 AM   #1
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Reynaldo Aleman HB User
Son with Autism and chronic thumb Sucking

Hello:

My child is 8yrs and he has Autism, we are having a serious problem with thumb sucking. He has been taken to the doctor many times already because he is either loosing his thumb nail or sometimes get infections. Now he is not bitting the thumb but his nail gets soft and broken down. We have try gloves, bite no more nail polish, socks covering his arm, a plastic type glove that covers his thumb use by dentist, the outer skin of aloe vera plants and nothing has work. We meet with a dentist this week to get a Habit Device but he rules out that option because of his condition. He says that will cause more problems than solve them. His pediatrian at one point sugested that may be something that he was doing as a way to calm him self, but after some time he is realizing that this has become a problem. Has anybody has gone to a situation like this and there is any advice. Any information will be welcome thanks.

 
Old 06-28-2009, 01:13 PM   #2
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stargirl6072 HB User
Thumbs up Re: Son with Autism and chronic thumb Sucking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reynaldo Aleman View Post
My child is 8yrs and he has Autism, we are having a serious problem with thumb sucking. He has been taken to the doctor many times already because he is either loosing his thumb nail or sometimes get infections. Now he is not bitting the thumb but his nail gets soft and broken down. We have try gloves, bite no more nail polish, socks covering his arm, a plastic type glove that covers his thumb use by dentist, the outer skin of aloe vera plants and nothing has work.
Hi Reynaldo,

This reminded me of my own childhood. I was also a chronic thumb sucker. What exactly you do depends on the qualities of your son's Autism, I would expect. I am also not exactly clear on how severe a "serious problem" would be in this case, since long term thumb sucking was normal for me. I bit my thumb and scarred it unusually (the scar disappeared after a while), but never lost a nail, so have a hard time imagining exactly what you're describing. I hope my experiences help:

My parents tried everything and nothing worked -- especially not hot or sour liquids, as they can easily be wiped off, sucked off, or might even be enjoyed. The sock is nonsense as it is removed quite easily by a child who is desperate to get their appendage out of a strange "thing" (this was my case - it was not so much that I needed desperately to get at the thumb as the sock itself was irritating). I can't imagine that these things above (the ultimate uselessness of edible liquid and socks) wouldn't be universal to all children.

I was 10 before I began to quit. I believe that it was finally a combination of Iodine and the many life changes of pre-adolescence that precipitated the change. The color and smell of Iodine was and is distressing to me. I disliked it on other people's hands, much less my own. It turned my "friendly" thumb into something unknown and "unfriendly." This is also a taste so awkward as to possibly hinder nocturnal thumb sucking. Whether this would work for your son or not only you might be able to guess. It at least would be medically useful in battling infection. In addition, I was allowed to keep anything else that might have been perceived as childish and soothing, and I think this helped.

Try explaining to him that it's not about him, and the thumb sucking itself isn't bad, but that you're concerned about his thumb (and teeth?) becoming injured. ...As if it were a problem-solving exercise about the thumb nail. Depending on his personality/Autistic characteristics this might help, since the child might then be sent the message they are a partner in the mystery and good helper rather than a bad thumb sucker.

Edit: I ate Jolly Ranchers constantly after quitting the thumb sucking, but of course, this might not be appropriate in your case. My brother recently told me that working the mouth (the mouth/tongue is secondary only to the fingertips in nerves) relieves people who are naturally short of serotonin. I'm not sure how exact this is but it makes a lot of sense. If your son is a high functioning person, I might watch him to make sure he doesn't replace the thumb sucking with overeating or smoking as an adolescent. I have to suspect it is all related.

Last edited by stargirl6072; 06-28-2009 at 01:26 PM.

 
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