Can Fidget Toys Help With ADHD?

Can Fidget Toys Help With ADHD?

Fidget toys like fidget spinners, stress balls, and Pop Its have exploded in popularity as tools to help restless minds and bodies self-regulate. For those coping with attention and sensory disorders like ADHD, these deceptively simple toys offer tangible benefits. Read on to understand exactly how fidget toys can help manage ADHD symptoms.


What Are Fidget Toys?


Fidget toys refer to a range of handheld toys designed to keep hands occupied through sensory stimulation and motor movements. Various buttons, switches, dials, textures and functions allow endless manipulation. Common fidgets kids love include:


  • Fidget spinners and cubes
  • Pinching/pops toys like Pop Its
  • Stress balls
  • Tactile rings and silicone toys
  • Kinetic sand and putty
  • Fidget pads and grids


These amusing little toys capture restless hands, eyes and minds through endless motions, all while fitting within a palm. Fingers glide over surfaces as amusing visuals, clicks and lights keep the brain absorbed. The cause-enchanting effect satisfies brains hardwired for sensory exploration.


Benefits of Fidget Toys for Managing ADHD


The sensory-motor engagement fidget toys provide can profoundly help students with ADHD self-regulate attention, emotions, energy and behavior by:


1.Improving Focus The tactile, visual and auditory elements of fidget toys cognitively distract and occupy areas of the ADHD brain prone to wandering. Children tune into the soothing sensory input, diverting from disruptive thoughts. Hyperfocus on these motivating toys in turn allows better attention and engagement with classroom tasks, instructions and processing. Essentially, fidget toys can produce a stimming effect that makes focusing easier.

2.Channeling Excess Energy ADHD often manifests physically through restless legs, tapping fingers, and fidgety habits. These unconscious motor movements happen when the ADHD nervous system has pent up energy to expel. Fidget toys provide a constructive outlet for this excessive stimulation, allowing kids an acceptable avenue to channel their impulses. The hand-eye coordination also tires out the system.

3.Easing Anxiety and Frustration In addition to wiring mismatches, many children with ADHD deal with emotional dysregulation. But the repetitive, self-soothing nature of fidget toy motions can calm the nervous system when heightened. Kids relax and reset. This prevents escalating actions and reactions when distressed. Fidget toys ultimately teach effective emotional coping tactics.

4.Building Classroom Rapport When kids can subtly fidget without disrupting others’ learning, teachers view it more positively. Meeting children’s sensory-motor needs through fidget toys prevents problematic behaviors that strain rapport. Fidgeting no longer hinders relationships or learning.

    The science clearly supports fidget toys’ ability to aid self-regulation in those with ADHD. Specifically, the toys address impaired executive functioning to:


    • Strengthen attentional control
    • Improve inhibitory response
    • Diminish impulsivity
    • Enable appropriate emotional responses
    • Strategies for Effective Use

    While fidget toys serve therapeutic purposes, taking a deliberate approach ensures meaningful benefits. Here are tips for effectively incorporating fidget toys:


    • Set Expectations- Discuss appropriate fidgeting rules regarding timing, distraction levels and toy treatment. Praise compliance. 
    • Offer Variety- Rotate novel fidget toys weekly to sustain interest and novelty. Sensorily diverse options prevents habituation.
    • Make Available Not Imposed- Children will intuitively fidget more with certain toys. Provide buckets of fidgets for free selection based on changing sensory needs. 
    • Use Reminders- Have nonverbal signs to cue specific fidget toy use during activities demanding greater attentional control.
    • Limit Electronic Fidgets Initially- Apps and e-games prove more distracting than helpful for many children new to fidgeting.
    • Pair with Therapy- Occupational therapy helps determine suitable fidget toys that meet the child’s unique sensory profile and developmental abilities.


    Consistency and patience allows kids with ADHD to form helpful fidgeting habits that support self-regulation during learning.


    Fidget Toy Recommendations by Age and Skill Level


    Wondering which fidget toys work best for a child’s age and ability? Here is a breakdown of top picks for both young kids and teens with ADHD:


    Ages 4-7

    • Squishy stress balls
    • Silly Putty or dough
    • Fidget spinners
    • Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty
    • Tangle therapy toys
    • Chewlery jewelry
    • Flip sequin pillows
    • Mini marble mesh balls


    Ages 8-12

    • Pop It toys
    • Infinity cubes
    • Kinetic sand
    • Fidget pads
    • Spiky sensory balls
    • Polygon spinners
    •  Mini bike chains
    • Flippy chain fidgets



    • Fidget cubes
    • Monkey noodles
    • Fidget rings and bracelets
    • Gear bubbles
    • Grippies
    • Velvetansw
    • Stress dice
    • Vortex fidget spinners

    By tailoring fidgets to emerging abilities, kids progress their skills as they learn to self-regulate behaviors.


    The Best Fidget Toys to Start With


    While the array of fidget toys keeps multiplying, a few all-star options rise above as must-tries, especially for ADHD beginners. Here are 5 quintessential fidgets to start out with:


    1. Pop Its These bestselling silicone toys provide springs tons of irresistible popping bubbles. They snap and click loudly, providing auditory stimulation atop tactile joy. Easy to use anywhere and super satisfying - Pop Its rule!
    2. Fidget Spinners A longtime fave, fidget spinners smoothly spin for minutes with visually mesmerizing motion. Kids love making them go as fast as possible! The 360 movement engages restless hands.
    3. Kinetic Sand This incredibly moldable sand never dries out, allowing kids to sculpt limitless creations. The smooth, fluid texture offers stress relief through its sand sifting sensations. Super tactile and creative too!
    4. Infinity Cubes These cubes twist, pivot and transform into endless configurations with a rollercoaster snap sensation. Moving the pieces challenges dexterity and keeps hands happily occupied. Engaging AF!
    5. Squishy Stress Balls .Few fidgets beat squishing a super soft, sensory ball. These cute balls provide calming input through their continuously moldable form. Simple yet sensory satisfying!

    While all fidgets have benefits, experiment to discover which deliver the most profound focus and emotional regulation results. Sensory needs vary!


    In Conclusion


    Fidget toys serve a therapeutic purpose well-supported by science for managing ADHD symptoms. Their sensory-motor nature allows neurodivergent minds an outlet for restless energy and attention so kids can focus, soothe emotions, build skills, and ultimately self-regulate behaviors. Employing fidget toys in school and home routines makes a substantive impact on development. Screen addictions fade as kids find joy manipulating these simple toys infinitely. Ultimately fidget toys grant freedom over compulsions, channeling tendencies into playful skill-builders. Yes - fidget toys positively help with ADHD!

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