Chewing gum in school should be mandatory.

Did you realize there is scientific evidence showing that chewing gum improves concentration and reduces stress? The United States military has known this for decades and has regularly supplied soldiers with chewing gum since World War I. When I came across this fact recently, I was first surprised and then a bit upset. This means chewing gum in the classroom would benefit my ADHD child greatly — I had already noticed over the past year that he is wild about chewing gum and that he actually listens better and can focus on a task better while chewing gum. I just thought it was one of his quirks. It turns out, chewing gum in the classroom would benefit all children (and maybe the teachers’ sanity a bit too).

There have been a handful of studies that have shown chewing gum to increase memory as well as improve concentration, provide stress release and even aide in digestion and weight loss. However, no one has been able to give a concrete scientific explanation. Here are the theories born from a 2002 study from the University of Northumbria in England (Read the complete research findings here.) :
1) The physical activity of chewing gum increases the heart rate. This increases blood flow and delivers more oxygen to the brain.
2) Chewing causes the body to release insulin which docks in receptors located in the hippocampus portion of the brain, the key area of the brain for memory. MRI scans show the hippocampus “lighting up” during chewing.

Sydney Zentall, Ph.D., of Purdue University, and author of “ADHD and Education,” studied the factors that help ADHD children succeed in the classroom and found that doing two things at once actually focuses the brain on the primary task. That is why you will notice ADHD students fidgeting, doodling, tapping their feet, rocking their chairs, etc. The secondary/underlying task of chewing gum will accomplish this as well.

With all of the knowledge we have regarding chewing gum’s affect on memory, concentration, and other key factors to school success, why are there strict rules prohibiting chewing gum in most schools in the United States. Can’t our school administrators overlook the “mess factor” for the improvement chewing gum can potentially bring?

I’d love to hear how you feel about this.

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Sources: wikipedia.org; Chewing Gum Expands the Mind by Ellen Sorokin on bnet.com; Chew Your Way to a Better Brain, BBC News; wrigley.com; Understanding the Science Behind Chewing Gum, Food Technology; hen ADHD Kids Fidget: Better Focus Through Multitasking by Roland Rotz, Ph.D., Sarah D. Wright , additude.com

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.
A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

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Related posts:

adhd and school, ADHD medication, attention/focus, classroom accommodations, sensory dysfunction, sensory processing ·

About the author

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

9 Comments

  1. Ashli says:

    I just happened upon your blog and noticed that we have a lot in common. My daughter is also on Concerta (second medication we have tried). Her diagnosis is only two months old and we are still trying to figure many things out for her. It helps to read about other families on the same journey. I’ll be reading!

    Reply
  2. Ashli –I am glad you found me — it is such a relief to know people are having similar experiences to your own. Penny

    Reply
  3. Mia says:

    Hi Penny~ I found your blog after you commented on my post on Twitter Moms about special needs blogs. Thanks for your comment there. My son has chewing gum in his IEP for school. We noticed that it helped concentration and focus as well in preschool and started there. Does your son have an IEP for school with ADHD? Our son has multiple diagnosis which is why he has an IEP…so I’m not familiar if you get one for ADHD or not.Thanks for the link to your blog. I’ll be back to visit.

    Reply
  4. Mia — Thanks for visiting my blog! My son is in the process of being evaluated by the school for an IEP (I think they have about 45 days left). You can take advantage of the 504 Plan (for diasbled) as ADHD but ADHD does not qualify fr an IEP. My son has some fine motor skills and handwriting disabilities as well so they agreed to evaluate him for the IEP (I asked so he can get OT through the school — I am hoping theyapprove it anyway). Feel free to become a follower here! Your opinion is always welcome.

    Reply
  5. sharon says:

    My 7yo son has been chewing sugar-free gum since he was able to, and it’s his obsession. He also has ADHD and we’ve tried for 2 years now to get the school to allow gum chewing to deal with his fidgeting. They’ve told me no and thrown school regulations and carpet cleaning nightmare stories at me repeatedly. We are now in the process of signing him up for 504 after a 6 month battle with the Guidence Councelor, and we’re going to try again. The sad part is that all these people are educators who ALL have their own biological children diagnosed with ADHD, and have never heard of gum chewing as a coping mechanism for ADHD children.

    Reply
  6. Sharon — There are lots of research studies on the web proving that chewing gum helps with focus and relaxation. Maybe you can submit a couple of them with the accommodation request. We had our 504 Plan meeting 8 days ago and I still haven’t heard if the principal approved the chewing gum. I am guessing she hasn’t decided since I have to send in the gum… Kee fighting for what your little guy needs!

    Reply
  7. Nancy Peske says:

    Absolutely! The argument that kids can't be trusted to properly dispose of chewing gum is bogus. True, you don't want the child taking in too much artificial sweeteners, and sugary gum will bathe their teeth in sugar and promote tooth decay. But judicious use of gum, or a chewing object, can make a huge difference in the ability to focus. My son who has SPD and I like very sour sugarless gum for focusing.

    Reply
  8. D. Ward says:

    We are geting gum this weekend to use during homeschool starting Monday!!  Every little tweak helps make for a more positive experience.

    Reply

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