A recent study on ADHD indicates that fidgeting actually improves, not hinders, focus. Maybe it is time to stop telling our kids to “sit still” or “stop playing with that.” Speaking from personal experience, I know that I actually focus better on verbal input when my hands or feet are moving in some way. What about you?
Additionally, many occupational therapists, experienced in working with children with autism, agree that fidgeting improves focus for their clients. For instance, occupational therapist, Moira Sullivan, M.A., O.T.R., explains why fidget tools are beneficial for students with autism in her article Better Focus Through Fidgeting and the aspergerssociety.org supports this theory in their article Autism Treatment 101 – Fidget Toys, indicating that fidget items help regulate the sensory system and help make concentration easier.
Children with ADHD and autism are not the only ones who would benefit from a fidget tool. Children with anxiety, sensory needs, or just a need to move in general, may benefit as well.
As a school psychologist and behavior specialist, I have encountered students who have the opportunity to use fidget tools/toys and have also had the privilege of working with occupational therapists who provide fidget tools to students. There are several fidget toys that I absolutely love, for my students and for myself. Below I have listed my top five. All tools listed below are either silent, create very little noise, or have a silent option.
1) Flippy Chain Fidget
The Flippy Chain Fidget toy consists of two key rings, and two chains, similar to what you would find on a bike chain. See the video demonstration below for exactly how you would fidget with this item and how much sound it makes. You can attach it to a key chain, put it on a necklace or bracelet, or tie it to a desk leg so it does not get lost.
2) Fidget Pencil Topper
You can slide, spin, pull, or bump the Fidget Pencil Topper.
3) Fidget Cube
The Fidget Cube has several fidgets in one such as clickable buttons, a switch, rollers, and a joy stick. This cube has silent and audible options. Check out the video demonstration for an in depth look at a fidget cube.
4) Tangle Jr.
Tangle Jr. is a series of 90-degree curves, connected and able to pivot at each joint. It has no beginning and no end – just continuous motion. Tangle Jr. has endless uses and serves a variety of different purposes. It can be a puzzle, a desktop toy, a fidget, a brain tool, an anti-stress device, a movable sculpture, etc. Tangle Jr. is silent and calming. See the video demonstration below for a variety of ways to fidget with Tangle Jr..
5) My Fidget Friend
This fidget toy is made from high quality mesh and contains a marble on the inside. It is calming and quiet. It comes in a variety of colors. See how to fidget with this item in the video demonstration below.
More Great Fidget Tools
Educators Have Expressed Concerns that Fidget Tools Get Lost. Why not tie them to the desk leg or wear them on a key ring, bracelet, or chain?
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Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, educators, and counselors to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them.