QUESTION: Pencil Licking?

QUESTION:

I have a student who licks the lead of his pencil before writing. He says it writes better that way. He is a 3rd grader. He has a lot of anxiety as well in the classroom. Any suggestions?

GWEN’S ANSWER:

Interesting. . . . Here are my thoughts:

1. This almost sounds like just one of those random behaviors. A habit or even a compulsion of some sort. I’m not really inclined to think of this as a sensory behavior.
2. If it is a sensory issue, it will make sense as part of his overall sensory picture. Fill out a Sensory Symptoms Checklist (there is one on my site under the “Forms” tab). If you see a pattern of over- or under-responsivity, try a sensory diet to meet his needs and maybe the pencil licking will stop.
3. If the behavior is more of a way to calm the anxiety, a lot of the “red arrow” sensory diet activities will help to reduce the anxiety and therefore may reduce the pencil licking as well.
4. Whether it is sensory or not, it’s not healthy, so I wouldn’t allow it. Try offering an alternative, like sucking on a peppermint while doing writing tasks.

Hope this helps! Keep me posted on what ends up working for this kid!

Best Wishes,
Gwen