Wednesday, August 23, 2017

TO FIDGET OR NOT TO FIDGET, THAT IS THE QUESTION


What’s the deal with these fidget spinners?! Fidget spinners seem to be a trend that swept the country for those that are both young and old. They are selling out of stores across the country. Fidget spinners can be found in a large variety of designs, colors and materials. People have even come out with DIY tutorials on Pinterest of how to make your very own fidget spinner. Over 4 million videos can be found online both teaching the users how to do different tricks with their fidgets and showing off their fidget spinner skills. Many of the video creators are young children in elementary school.



If you have not heard of a fidget spinner, it is a gadget that is made up of two or three prongs with a bearing in the middle. This design allows the object to be spun. The spinning of the device is supposed to help the individual stay focused and relieve stress. They are meant to be targeted towards those who have ADD, ADHD, anxiety and autism. However, some schools feel that they have become too much of a distraction and have ban them altogether. Other schools allow any child to use them. That leaves us with the question: are fidget spinners beneficial or are they distracting and detracting from the real task at hand?

A clinical psychologist named David Anderson, who specializes in ADHD and other behavioral disorders, broke it down. Dr. Anderson said, “They’re not a treatment so there’s no psychologically recommended gadget.” He goes on to explain that the treatments for anxiety, depression and ADHD are individualized and vary from child to child, and that there is no universal gadget that works for everyone. The company that created fidget spinners came out with the product and did not have the scientific evidence to back their claim. Scientific studies take quite a bit of time and money to conduct. Dr. Anderson recommends cognitive behavioral strategies if you or your child suffer from depression, anxiety, ADHD or stress. Dr. Anderson did feel that there was something positive that came of fidget spinners, it brought up the discussion of ADHD and anxiety relief and how we can help provide relief to those who suffer from them.

I thought it was important to get a teacher's perspective on this hot topic. I spoke with a first grade teacher from Mapleton Elementary and got her thoughts on the matter. She said, “Depending on the type of fidget, they can help. Spinners are too much for them to handle and they want to watch it. Kids without an attention or fidget problem want them because they are a toy right now.”

Q: Do they have a place in the classroom?
A:“I think they do, they just need to be regulated in the type of fidget and who is claiming the need for it. The needs should be monitored. My kids can bring them to class as long as it’s not distracting. If I saw them using a spinner or its distracting me, I take it away.” 

Q: How do we allow these in the classroom without it hurting those who it isn’t helping? 
A:“That’s why I like the cubes because it gives them something to do with their hands and it’s some extra stimulation and not something to watch.”  

A fidget cube fits in the palm of your hand and has different sensory stimulants on each side that are silenced so that they do not draw attention or distract those around you. 
Ms. Carr herself uses both fidgets spinners and fidget cubes. I asked her why and if she saw the long term benefits of them. She said,“Ever since I was little I have had a ‘fidget problem’. I use to have a sensory thing. When I got my ears pierced I use to spin them over and over. Fidgets are something to play with in my hands.”

Q: Do you think that IEPs should be required or will the teacher be able to identify who needs a fidget?  A: “Yes and no, I could see it being in someone's IEP. I don’t think it has to be regulated by an IEP. It is something that should be worked out between a parent and a teacher. It’s going to need a little time because currently it’s so much of a toy everyone has one. It is because everyone has one. It will take time before it can be used effectively as a toy versus an aid.”

What are your thoughts on fidget spinners? Let us know in the comments!



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