Therapist Answers: Do Fidget Spinners Help?

Fidget Spinner

Do fidget spinners help or hurt?

Will a fidget spinner help my child focus?  Are fidget spinners effective in treating symptoms of ADHD? If you’re a parent or teacher, you know that Fidget Spinners are the newest toy fad.  Many of my young clients have convinced their parents that they need a fidget spinner to help them in school.  For parents, it’s a tempting solution: buy their child a toy that they are begging for AND help treat their ADHD. 

What is a “fidget”?

A fidget is an item that may help a person improve their concentration and attention through the use of sensorimotor stimulation (i.e. fingers, mouth, legs).  Special education professionals and therapists have been recommending these for years to children with attention deficit problems.  These are simple, quiet, and non-distracting tools that students could use as they seek extra sensory input to help them focus.

Are fidget spinners an appropriate “fidget” to help my child focus?

Short answer, NO.  Sorry to disappoint all those children out there that love having a whirling spinner to play with while at school.  Fidgets are tool, not toys, to help individuals focus.  Fidget spinners make noise and are distracting.  While there is some circumstantial evidence that people have positive experiences (increased focus) while using fidget spinners, there is not any evidence yet to prove that this is an effective tool. If your child believes they are benefitting from the use of a fidget spinner, I would recommend looking into fidgets that may be more therapeutic and appropriate.

What could I give to my child to help them focus better in school?

Studying

Helping a student focus is a complex issue.  Throwing something in a child’s hand is probably not going to cure their lack of focus in the classroom. I highly suggest working with teachers, mental health therapists, occupational therapists, and other specialists to create a personalized treatment plan. All fidgets need to be approved by the school and teacher in the classroom.

Here are a variety of appropriate fidgets that may help someone focus:

  • Stress ball

  • Putty

  • Velcro under a desk

  • “Chewlery” (for those with oral fixations)

  • Corks (for those who pick)

Is a fidget an appropriate therapeutic tool for my child?

You’ll need to speak with a professional to see if it is appropriate.  Fidgets are often a distraction for people.  They can take away from the person’s concentration.  Fidgets should only be used by those that need extra sensory input in order to focus.  I recommend speaking with a professional that help you figure out if a fidget would be helpful.

What else can I do to help treat ADHD?

Therapy, Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs), occupational therapy, exercise, and medication (in extreme cases) are all resources that can help a child focus and flourish. At Christopher John Counseling, we meet with parents and students to help them maximize their effectiveness inside and outside of the classroom.  Click here for a free consultation to meet with an ADHD therapist in Denver, Colorado.

One thought on “Therapist Answers: Do Fidget Spinners Help?

  1. Joanna says:

    Hi Chris, thanks for the post. I have had folks asking and talking about it a lot. I am going to refer to your post when discussing!

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