Teething can be difficult for many children, and for youth with sensory issues, it can be hard to find a product that works for them. However, Laura Parks hopes to offer a solution.
Parks is co-owner of M&P Designs, which creates silicone teething jewelry. It was 100 percent food grade silicone, making if soft but essentially unbreakable, in addition to being heat resistant, freezer friendly, and dishwasher safe.
She quickly found that her youngest son loved the bead jewelry, and her older son, who has sensory issues, has cut down on some of his sensory induced behaviors because if it.
“We realized how great this was and how much our children loved it,” Parks said. “Then we realized there was nothing like this around here, and how helpful it would be for other woman.”
That’s how M&P Designs came to be. Parks sells customizable silicone jewelry for $6 to $11. The jewelry is customizable in colors and on what is offered on it. She offers deals for those interested in buying in a bundle.
She went on to say that with her first son, she would spend money on teethers and other items just to find that she didn’t like the product or her son wouldn’t use it. With how much she and other mothers were paying for the products (up to $30), she wanted to make a change.
“They have so much to do already, and mothers need something more affordable, something more readily accessible,” Parks said. “If you buy them from somewhere else, you’re looking at paying almost $25 for a necklace, and that’s just robbing young mothers.”
She said that since starting her line, she has come to really enjoy helping other mothers and youth who use the products.
“When you have a mom with a child with sensory issues like mine, you appreciate that you’re helping this mother out. They already have so much going on, and that’s why we continue to do it,” Parks said. “And I think a lot of the why I like doing it so much is because I know the children are benefiting. Being a mom, you want your children to be happy. If you have to force your kids to chew on it, there’s a problem.”
Alicia Frey said that her son also has a sensory processing disorder, causing him to chew on various items. She said that everything they had tried before was either too hard or he would tear them apart. This changed when they ran into M&P Designs at the Strawberry Festival Craft Fair.
“He grabbed one off the table and started chewing one, and he hasn’t stopped,” Frey said. “We’re getting him the necklace next. Because right now he has one clip.”
She said that it’s difficult to find things for children with special needs, and often, they’re outrageously priced.
“Things are expensive. Her stuff is reasonably priced where anyone can afford it — you don’t have to have a high income to afford what your child needs,” Frey said. “He can bend it, play with it, it doesn’t hurt if he hits himself with it. Nothing comes off, and he chews them constantly. They’re really well made.”
She added another important detail is that Parks works to have a range that’s age appropriate.
“She was telling me that she’s getting dog tags in, and that’ll be great for older kids,” Frey said. “They’re not as childish — they don’t want to wear a raccoon. She’s thinking about that.”
Staff writer Kirsten Reneau can be reached at 304.626.1404 [email protected][“Source-theet”]