Why do we chew? Well, for a variety of reasons…
One explanation for the question “why do we chew?” is “stims” or “stimming” which is short for self-stimulatory behaviours . These are behaviours most people exhibit. We might twirl our hair, jiggle your leg or tap a pencil while working on a difficult problem or task – that’s stimming. Chewing or mouthing objects are also examples of stimming. The difference between acceptable stims and those we consider inappropriate is in the type and intense repetition of the stims.
Commonly, people living with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) engage in chewing or stimming for a variety of reasons.
One explanation is quite simply that it feels good. Chewing releases opiate-like substances in the brain called beta-endorphins, which can produce either a euphoric or anaesthetic effect.
Others believe that stimming could be due to the mechanism that it provides. It provides an extra dose of internal stimulation for people with ASD who feel under-stimulated or a feeling of tranquility for those who feel overstimulated or alleviate the high levels of internal anxiety.
Stimming isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t hurt you or your child while doing it.