“tic tacs”: a light-hearted look at autism intervention

Today I encourage you to think about tic tac candies. Yes, I mean the teensy little mints that come in the clear plastic dispenser. As a parent of a child on the Autism spectrum, I must admit that the tiny tic tac has proven to be a powerful ally. This understated little candy has been a lifesaver (pardon the confusing pun) on countless occasions in my world. Passing H the entire wee package has been a strategy and an accessible resource too amazing for me to keep to myself.  Let me wax poetic and extol the virtues of the humble, understated, but not to underestimated, tic tac. 

1) tic tacs are light, and inexpensive to carry around in a backpack or purse

2) I believe they are actually too small to be a choking hazard for a child (although I am certainly not qualified to say this as a certainly)

3) tic tacs are musical and can be shaken in rhythm to accompany a song

4) tic tacs are a sensory item and can be wiggled or shaken in a pocket or a hand and provide a lovely calming activity

5) tic tacs provide a fine motor activity – in the opening and closing of the tiny flip top lid

6) You can give your child a whole package of tic tacs – it wont cost you a fortune and even if they eat the whole bunch- they probably contain fewer calories than a single hard candy

7) tic tacs never go stale

8 ) The left over containers can be used to store beads, bb pellets, Lego accessories, or other tiny treasures

9) tic tacs come in a variety of flavours and they taste good

10) You can bite them or eat them slowly

11) One package of tic tacs can last all day

12) One tic tac can be given to a child before they enter the barber shop or healthfood store (or another place with an overwhelming smell) and they are less impacted by sensory overload

13) Face it!! Sometimes bribery works!! (But we usually like to call it positive reinforcement or a token economy)

14) It is impossible for tic tacs to spoil your dinner

15) And most importantly… tic tacs are SOCIAL and meant to be shared and this encourages a short patterned dialogue and the opportunity to practice thinking of others!!!


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2011)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
This entry was posted in Autism, Behaviour, Intervention, Parent, the box, Tic Tacs and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to “tic tacs”: a light-hearted look at autism intervention

  1. Margo says:

    Going to buy some tic tacs! They’d be such a mellow sound for those with kids who NEED to, at times, make noises with something.


  2. Elaine says:

    I have been reading your Blogs and thoroughly enjoying the scope of your writings…So very much understanding and knowledge to give to others on this very important and so little understood topic…You certainly have given a gift of yourself during this month of Autism Awareness…Thank you.


  3. CG says:

    I love this! I will be sharing this idea.
    Thank you


  4. Leah Kelley says:

    Post Script: I sent this post to the tic tac company, with a suggestion that they consider sponsoring some kind of campaign for Autism Acceptance and Understanding (maybe next year??).


  5. Tic tacs can be used for a mindfulness exercise. Focus on the taste of the tic tac, keep returning to the taste when other thoughts go through your mind. No really, it works – even for kids. I had a child with autism calm down significantly in my office this week by focusing on the taste of a hard candy in her mouth.


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thank you so much for adding this wonderful idea Barbara. For me it could also be a mindfulness activity even to slowly enjoy the experience of a whole tic tac and not to bite it. That will certainly require considerable focus.

      I must add that it was also recently pointed out to me that tic tacs can be shared without spreading the germs that are sometimes on little hands…

      Now I love them even more!


  6. Pingback: “tic tacs”: a light-hearted look at autism intervention (via Thirty Days of Autism) | Thirty Days of Autism

  7. Kathi Flynn says:

    I love this! Great work! It’s inspiring to make something so simple hold so many options, especially when faced with so many challenges!


  8. Pingback: Siblings, Stress, and Love: A Big Sister’s View of Autism « Flappiness Is…

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  10. Renee Salas says:

    Happiness, Leah, thanks! x


  11. ouremuk66 says:

    Must confess I’d never given tic tacs much thought above their low calorie status but I am seeing them in a totally different light now. I wonder if my daughter would like them? She doesn’t like sweets (at all) but it would be worth buying a packet; she can always share them out 🙂


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Oh… Nice! I hope you can find a flavour your daughter likes. My son likes the orange ones! I prefer original… I finally realized that they taste like vanilla – took forever to figure that one out 🙂


  12. Anna says:

    Those big fruity tictacs are nasty and they taste like chemicals to me. But the other kinds (like spearmint) are great.


  13. Kelly Lasseter says:

    This is so ironic. My 10 year old son who has autism LOVES tic tacs. In fact he told me about six months ago that he is going to ask Santa for every flavor of tic tax ever made. He is sticking with his request too!! Thanks so much for this wonderful post!!!!


  14. Jennifer Dinsmore says:

    Little tips like this are some of the most helpful and relateable of all…thx so much!


  15. Reblogged this on Yes, I Really Did Just Say That. and commented:
    Tic, Tac, Oh.. Yeah!


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  17. Pingback: 18 невероятных фактов обо всем на свете

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