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Q&A: Licking or Tasting?


I’m an OT working in a school setting. I have a student in a moderate to severe ASD class who licks everything from playground structures to people’s hands. I’ve given him a chewy. He used it initially then returned to licking objects. I appreciate your advice!


It’s likely he is seeking taste rather than just oral proprioceptive input, which he would get from a chewy. I suggest frequent opportunities to meet his need for intense gustatory (taste) input such as allowing him to lick a lemon wedge or put a drop of lemon juice on his tongue, beef jerky, salty nuts, a burst of sour candy spray, a Smartie, etc. At the same time, I would implement a behavior plan. Maybe whenever he licks an object that shouldn’t be licked, he has to use clean the object thoroughly. Or if he licks the playground structure, he is only allowed to walk laps on the playground for the rest of recess rather than be near the playground equipment. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance!

Best Wishes,