Fidget spinners are small and made of metal or plastic. In the center, they have a bearing and have a few prongs that spin around it. The intent of the gadget is to provide mindless play while sitting in class. Although they have been around for some time now, they are just recently growing in popularity. However, they are also stirring up both positive and negative feedback.
On the Plus Side
A pediatric occupational therapist may recommend the fidget spinner and they’re being marketed as a therapeutic aid for children with ADHD, anxiety, and autism. It’s said when a child spins the toy in their hand, it’s supposed to help increase their focus. The toy may also help some children who are overly sensitive to stimulation or overreacts to or does not like noise, smells, or touch.
One study showed that children with ADHD who engaged in gross body movement activities performed better with memory tasks than those who just sat still.
These spinners are great tools for children who need them if the educator sets up some ground rules in advance and the child follows them. The toys are designed to be felt allowing the child to keep their visual attention focused on their teacher.
Some teachers are becoming annoyed with the use of fidget spinners in their classrooms. The problem is that they are visually distracting, which is their biggest drawback. It’s to the point where some schools have actually banned the gadget.
To date, there isn’t a lot of science to back up these claims or no real evidence of the effectiveness of fidget spinners.
A clinical psychologist at a Central Florida University, Mark Rapport, who assisted with the aforementioned study, stated that with no research on the spinners, it’s difficult to say definitively if they do help children with ADHD. Dr. Rapport even said he suspected they did more harm than good.
Since the toy takes children’s attention away from what they’re supposed to be focusing on, he felt they would probably serve more as a distraction to kids with ADHD rather than a benefit.
Alternative to the Fidget Spinner
There is a plastic cube called a fidget cube that has a variety of dials and buttons on it for fidgeting hands. Some believe the fidget cube would be more classroom friendly since you don’t have to give the cube any visual attention. With the cube, your child will get the same benefit as they would with the spinner, but they’d be less distracted in the classroom.