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Stop Fidgeting?! Um, Bad Idea

Kids with ADHD actually concentrate, focus, and stay on task better with a little foot-tapping, gum-chewing, movement. Learn what intentional fidget toys and tools help the most.

1 Comment: Stop Fidgeting?! Um, Bad Idea

  1. Hi! This is my first time to comment on this website. I really enjoy reading many of the articles and find them very helpful in learning about my own ADHD and my adult children’s ADHD.

    Regarding this article about fidgets, some thoughts come to mind. First, be aware that sometimes, for some people, music would not be a good fidget, i.e., something mindless to help distract you so that you can focus more on the task at hand. Research shows that for musicians, listening to music is anything BUT mindless, and can very easily pull your mind away from your intended focus so much so that you focus solely on the music (the musical aspects of the music). For me personally, as a trained musician and educator, it depends on the activity I need to focus on (other than the music) as to whether or not I can tolerate listening to music “in the background.” Certainly when doing an activity that doesn’t involve complex thinking, maybe like housework, I can often listen to music simultaneously. But if the focus activity requires complex thinking, I can’t have any music on, or else I cannot focus on the non-music stimulus. My adult daughter, who trained for flute performance and is now an elementary music teacher, used to say in high school that she could listen to music while doing math, but not while writing an essay. All this to say, just be aware that for some people, listening to music might not be an appropriate fidget, according to the definition of a fidget in this article.

    The other main thought about fidgets has to do with being in an environment with other people. Speaking as an elementary music teacher myself, since what we do in an elementary music class is often a group activity that involves all senses simultaneously (which people with ADD can do quite well, by the way), a “fidget” item can be counterproductive to the learning at hand, which is to be learning how to attend to certain sounds/sights “in time,” which means right then. Think of playing your part with other people at the same time they are playing. Using a fidget AT THAT TIME would be very counter-productive. However, there are other times in the music classroom that I can see a fidget would be quite helpful … while listening to other people making music, whether it’s live or recorded … while thinking what choices you’ll be making when composing a bit of music … etc.

    And lastly, as a very personal side note, I find it quite distracting to me personally as a teacher when a student uses a fidget gadget in the middle of music class when we are all working together simultaneously to make music at that moment. And I see that it is quite distracting to the students around that person. That is likely because our activity AT THAT TIME is one where all our brains need to be attending to the matter at hand (playing the same music together) – at least for the few minutes that the activity lasts. And when one of the brains veers off in a different direction, the rest of our brains follow. :). I often find myself saying (before we start playing) something like,”Let’s all find our brains” in a cheerful voice. And sometimes a student will say (when I mess up the music), “Mrs. K, did you forget to find your brain first?” And usually that was the case! No worries … when I or someone messes up, we get extra chances to find our brains and try again. (That’s called practicing, by the way, and it’s great fun!)

    Sorry for the long ramble … hope it makes sense!

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