By Rebecca Gordon
Interacting with someone who is diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder may include lots of movement on their part. Their eyes may roam around the room while speaking. Their hands could pick up a pencil, and immediately set it down again. They could adjust themselves in their seat, shift this way or that way. Quite simply, they fidget.
By this point, fidget spinners are prolific. They are especially popular with the preteen crowd. Amazon’s current best selling fidget spinner asks “Want to put stress, anxiety, ADD or ADHD at bay so you have a better day ahead? Get this long spinning and stylish spinner.”
Studies of whether fidget spinners are beneficial to those with ADD or ADHD have not been conducted, but there are those in favor of the device.
“Kids with PTSD, kids with anxiety, there are kids with a lot of different disorders that could benefit from the spinner,” said Washtenaw Community College psychology and behavior modification instructor Julie Pomerville-Steiner.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 6.4 million children in America between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. The number keeps increasing, a result some experts say is due to increased awareness and acceptance of the disorder. Fidget spinners could be a valuable tool for those who struggle to cope with ADHD, according to Pomerville-Steiner.
“I’ve been surprised I haven’t had more students using them. I like them,” said Pomerville-Steiner. “I think it is a very unobtrusive way to fidget. And there are a lot of people who need to fidget to focus.”
While scientific evidence supporting the benefits of fidget spinners specifically has not been conclusive, studies on the benefits of fidgeting for those with ADHD have been. The New York Times reported that a study published in Child Neuropsychology determined that kids with ADHD who fidget are able to concentrate better than those who don’t. Results of that study suggested to the researchers that hyperactivity is a method for “cognitive self-regulation” by the body to assist in focusing.
“I’m huge on if something works for you, why not?” said Pomerville-Steiner. “If there’s any extra thing, because if one tenth of people with ADD could get rid of meds and just use the spinner, wouldn’t it be great?”
Some schools have expressed concerns over fidget spinners. The devices are considered a distraction to students and disruption to classes, and some administrators have even banned the device from their schools. But do the correctable negatives outweigh the potential positives?
“Kids who don’t need them but would do it just to irritate somebody, or who would do it out of comedy, they would tire of it. I mean they’re not that interesting. They’re boring. But if you have ADD, they’re not boring, they’re calming,” said Pomerville-Steiner.
By Carol Abbey-Mensah
2017 has definitely seen many fascinating toys like the Pokemon Interactive set game, the Anki Cosmo Robot and many others. While most of these toys are more popular with kids, there’s one toy which is on the lips of both adults and kids: fidget spinners.
They are just objects with three sides and a middle button. All they do is spin, but somehow, kids and even adults are obsessed with them. Almost every online site markets the toy as a tool which helps kids with ADHD and ADD. Other sites also market the toy as a tool which helps with difficulties associated with autism, but many experts have come out to say that there’s no study to support the claims.
“Using a spinner-like gadget is more likely to serve as a distraction than a benefit for individuals with ADHD,” Mark Rapport, a clinical Psychologist at the University of Central Florida told Livescience.
Kristy Norris, a Child Psychologist, who teaches Behavior Modification at the Washtenaw Community College, also had this to say about the claims.
“I don’t think there’s any science to support this claim, at least none that I’ve heard of. I’ll urge parents not to rely on these toys because they aren’t going to solve the problem. Rather, kids suffering from ADHD should try to learn internal coping strategies.”
Apart from the fact that these toys are not what they are advertised to be, they can be very distractive. Many schools across the country and the U.K. have banned fidget spinners because they distract their owners and other kids in the class, as well.
Due to the distractive nature of the toy, Norris allows her son, who has more than one fidget spinner, to use it only at home.
“I don’t allow my kid to take it to school because I know how distracting it can get,” said Norris.
Being distractive is one thing, but things get more serious when the toy also becomes destructive.
A 10-year-old girl in Texas swallowed one of the ball bearings which got stuck in her throat.
Another dangerous incident occurred when a 3-year-old boy in Detroit who was taken to the Emergency Department after swallowing one of the ball bearing units.
In fact, the toy is causing so much harm that the World Against Toys Causing Harm, a consumer watchdog group, has named fidget spinners one of the ten most harmful and potentially lethal toys due to choking hazards.
Of course the toys provide entertainment which makes people happy, but when an object does the opposite of what it is advertised to do, that is cause for alarm.