Five Great Products for Fidgets!
Adults and children with Autism, ADHD or Dyspraxia are often known for our fidgety ways!
Fact is, fidgeting is actually super useful for us and can help reduce anxiety, improve concentration as well as providing grounding or alerting sensory stimulation and feedback. I always provide the children and adults that I work with a choice of fidget items at the beginning of each session. It helps them to focus on the session and I’ve definitely noticed most are much more able to think and talk with something to fidget with.
Of course a lot of fidget items are a bit problematic. Some of them, such as fidget spinners, need quite a bit of coordination to use. Lots of older children and adults may not like the fact that a lot of fidget items look like toys. They often aren’t very discreet and the fact that they draw a lot of attention in the classroom or workplace is distracting for others.
So with that in mind, here are some of my favourite fidget recommendations.
For work or home desks, do give one of these desk figipods a try. I have one on my desk all the time! It stays on my desk (unlike smaller fidget items which get lost and are scattered around the homes South Devon) and provides unobtrusive fidgeting input whilst I’m working, speaking on the phone or trying to concentrate on something.
However the figipod is a bit too big to fit in my pocket, and so I need some alternatives which are easy to take around during the day, to meetings, training/speaking engagements, or just out and about. I sometimes use fidget cubes or tangles, which are both great as they don’t require much dexterity, but do have a lot of variety, textures and movements.
Or I use one of these: my top recommendation fidget-wise, spiky sensory rings.
They are basically a spiky spiral which you can rotate and fidget with, but also you can put them around individual fingers to provide a gentle massage/tactile input. They aren’t suitable for younger children or chewers as they are quite small. But this means they are also very discreet so are an ideal choice for more self-conscious fidgeters or for a school/office environment. The added bonus of giving a good finger massage for those of us who get sore hands from writing or other fine motor tasks with our hands.
They are available in bulk and that’s great for me, as it means I can put them in every location I might need one, and if I lose one it is no big deal.
For fidgeting whilst sitting, I really recommend one of these Gymnic cushions.
It’s all well and good to have one comfy chair at work at home, but most of us actually use more than one chair in a day. These are easy to move around the house, school or work. They help promote good posture but also allow you to subtly move and fidget in your seat whilst staying put.
They’re great for those of us who like movement and tactile input, but if you are someone with tactile sensitivity they are quite bumpy to sit on – you have been warned!
Another fidget item that’s useful whilst sitting is a moving footrest
This is for those of us who swing our legs, kick the table leg, rock the chair and constantly change the position of our legs whilst sitting.
Any kind of moving footrest provides that kind of input to our legs without being noisy and distracting.
Also significantly less dangerous than rocking and tipping over in your chair!
Lastly for sitting, weighted lap pads can be helpful. I put mine to the test on a long haul flight. Whilst it didn’t stop me needing to move my legs entirely, it did significantly reduce it to a level which was manageable on the plane.
So the take home message is really that fidgeting is often a misunderstood but necessary process for those of us with differently wired brains and sensory systems, which can help us to manage focus, anxiety and our sensory experience. Fortunately the acceptability of fidgeting and the range of fidget items available is increasing, so fidget away!
Dr Emma Tremaine trained as a medical doctor and psychiatrist before starting up a social enterprise specialising in comprehensively supporting adults and young people with Dyspraxia (The Dyspraxic Doctor). She also provides regular emotional and social skills therapy for children and young people who have a neurodevelopmental diagnosis (including Autism/Aspergers and ADHD). Dr Emma has Dyspraxia herself and is a passionate writer and speaker about neurodiversity, mental health and her own experience becoming a doctor with a hidden disability. She also enjoys horse riding, yoga, amateur sewing and making people laugh.