For any child, it is difficult to stay still and focused throughout the school day. But for kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory processing disorder (SPD) or autism, it can be nearly impossible. Many children, as well as their parents and educators, rely on fidget toys for help.
“Fidget toys are one way to support students who experience difficulty concentrating, actively participating, and/or managing anxiety and arousal across social and educational settings,” says Laura Bonazinga Bouyea, M.S., CCC-SLP. “When used properly, they provide tactile, or touch input, which can increase alertness, support regulation, and reduce anxiety allowing a child to attend, adequately switch attention, focus, and reach a ‘readiness to learn’ or ‘readiness to receive communication’,”She continues.
Tools like fidget toys are becoming more popular due to virtual learning and a stressful year that has profoundly impacted our children’s mental health. Fidget toys such as putty or fidget spinners are great for transferring anxious energy from the brain to your fingers. This can result in a sense calm and relaxation. They can also keep hands occupied when they’d be distracted by twitching or biting their nails.
What should you look out for in a fidget? Says Bonazinga Bouyea, “The trick is to find a fidget that provides the ‘just right’ amount of input, supports an optimal state of arousal and alertness, isn’t disruptive, is comfortable, and doesn’t take too much cognitive energy.”Safety and durability are important, especially for children. Avoid sharp edges and designs that could fall apart or trap little fingers. Also, avoid magnets if you have small children.
We have gathered some of our favorite fidget toys, from clickable cubes to squishy ball and satisfying poppers. Children of all ages find it helps them focus, reduce anxiety, and offers a way to calm their mind.
The Zuru Fidget Cube from Antsy Labs has six sides that let kids click, glide, flick, and roll off their antsiness. It is small enough to be used by little hands. However, they should note that some features may be louder if they are using it in school settings.
These tubes, which look like an accordion, can be bent, stretched, and connected to keep hands busy.
This putty can be rolled, stretched and squeezed, or squished to provide endless hours of enjoyment. It actually gets better the more you play with it. Pro tip: Use a darker colour to keep the grime from showing through.
The toy that’s synonymous for fidgets! This silent metal spinner keeps kids’ hands busy and provides stress relief, no matter if they are at their desks or on long (read boring) car rides.
Toys that don’t leave behind mess? Hallelujah. Crayola’s Globbles, which are colorful and can be smooshed or stacked and stretched, can stay sticky even after they have been washed.
The Tangle is a looping, twisting, bent, and tangled endless loop. It can also be disassembled and put back together. Fiddling is enhanced by the variety of textures.
Popping bubble wrap is more cathartic than anything. The addictive rubber Pop It is a bubble wrap-like product. (Full disclosure: I have snatched this one from my child’s hand to get a turn.
The makers of the highly-engaging baby doll are the same. Dimpl The pocket version is perfect for when you need some extra stimulation.
Spaghetti Chewy Fidget, a great choice for children who benefit from oral stimulation, especially children with ADHD, sensory processing disorder and autism. This flexible, flexible bundle of silicone-free BPA-free silicone is fun and flexible “noodles”They can be braided or twisted, or chewed on.
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