Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Many students across the country are going to school virtually this year, and caregivers are looking for ways to support their students from home. It is important to recognize that support can come in many forms and does not always have to be a complicated process. One simple way to support your student is to include the use of fidget toys into their school day. Although the use of fidget toys has been scientifically documented to improve cognitive processing with students diagnosed with ADHD, the application of this research can be carried across the classroom (or in this case - the home). Studies have shown that increased movement in children (specifically in this study children diagnosed with ADHD) results in increased attention, correct responses, and memory (Hartanto et al., 2016). Research further indicates that using a sense (such as touch) that is different from the primary task (such as listening) can increase attention to the primary task. In the classroom that means that having something tactile to manipulate and touch can lead to increased focus on the listening that needs to happen when the teacher is giving instruction.
So where do you find these fidget toys? No worries. Many different items can be used.
Putty and Play-Doh (putty does not stick to most surfaces and can be less messy than Play-Doh) are great for manipulation.
Stress balls and kneadable squishy toys work well and are easily found in most discount stores.
Puzzle balls and fiddle links make auditory sounds that can be satisfactory for sensory engagement and also provide tactile feedback.
A few guidelines may need to be in place when using these in virtual learning. Remind your student that they cannot throw or juggle them as this may be distracting for other learners. It also is helpful to give your student as much choice as possible. Consider having a basket out with a few options so your child can choose the tool that they need after understanding the various purposes each “toy” serves. Empower your kiddo to take control of their environment and utilize the tools they have to alleviate stress and distraction.
If you have questions about where to find these items or questions about individual customized suggestions, please contact KS Services here, and we’ll be happy to schedule a free consultation and provide any information you may need.
Hartanto, T. A., Krafft, C. E., Iosif, A. M., & Schweitzer, J. B. (2016). A trial-by-trial analysis reveals more intense physical activity is associated with better cognitive control performance in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Child Neuropsychology, 22(5), 618–626. https://doi.org/10.1080/09297049.2015.1044511
Laura Waller, MS