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Fidgets to Help Kids with ADHD Focus at School

I began a quest for new fidgets — small objects with sensory appeal that Natalie can hold in her hands and fidget with. Fidgeting has been shown to help children with ADHD focus.

Strategies for coping with ADHD that, for a time, help my daughter, Natalie, often lose their effectiveness with continued use. Chewing gum in school to improve her concentration is an example of a classroom accommodation that recently bit the dust.

Just before school started this fall, Natalie discovered blowing bubbles. Once she did so, simply chewing gum became absolutely impossible — out of the question — never to be settled for again.

Bubble blowing itself would be enough to call into question the I-can-chew-gum-in-school rule, but Natalie’s personal bubble blowing style, which incorporates the use of fingers just as much as teeth and tongue, really sealed the deal. No more gum in school for my Little Miss Busy.

As a substitute for the gum, I began a quest for new fidgets — small objects with a little sensory appeal that Natalie can hold in her hands and fidget with. Like chewing gum, fidgeting has been shown to help children with ADHD focus.

Natalie’s teachers have provided a few fidgets for her to use over the years. Her first grade teacher, Mrs. Junck, had a round piece of fabric, about 6 inches in circumference, with pieces of yarn, about 2 inches long, covering one side. It looked a little bit like a mop head. (Mrs. Junck took it home and laundered it often!) Natalie has also used squishy, studded sensory balls, and her art teacher has craft-style puff balls for her to finger when they watch videos.

Make Learning STICK

But, based on my belief that any one fidget-able object will lose its effectiveness with repeated use, I decided to buy a variety of items, and let Natalie put them to the test.

My online search yielded several sites that offer a great selection of sensory tools. I chose to order from The Therapy Shoppe, for two reasons. One: They have a large selection. And two: They group their fidgets into helpful categories — alerting fidgets, calming fidgets, silent classroom fidgets, and touchy-feely tactile fidgets.

Although I would have loved to buy a couple of each and every fidget they offer, I narrowed my choices down to the following:

1) Ultimate Wire Fidgeter, $2.99 each
The Therapy Shoppe

2) Pencil Topper Fidget, 2 for $1.69
The Therapy Shoppe

3) Kneadable Erasers, 2 for $1.49
The Therapy Shoppe

4) Fidgeting Finger Springs, 10 for $2.99
The Therapy Shoppe

5) FiddleLinks Fidgeter, $6.99 each
The Therapy Shoppe

Natalie has chosen to use the Fidgeting Finger Springs almost exclusively. They are silent, unobtrusive, and fit her signature anxious-fidgeting style to a T.

I have no feedback from Natalie about the Pencil Topper Fidgets or FiddleLinks Fidgeter — she appears not to use them. Her special ed teacher vetoed the Kneadable Erasers nearly immediately as too distracting, and Natalie destroyed the Ultimate Wire Fidgeter in less than a minute. It never even made it to school. It was a complete waste of money!

I’m going to place another order for a couple of sensory balls, because Natalie has been asking for one. I’ll let you know how they work for her at school.

Does your child use fidgets at school? If so, what are his or her favorites?