Being a parent of a child with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be overwhelming in a lot of ways. There are accommodations to consider, appointments to juggle, and of course, wrestling with the emotions that often accompany parenting a child with special needs is a job in and of itself. When it comes to therapies and adaptive toys, you might be wondering which fidget toys are best for kids with ADHD? The options seem limitless and the pressure of providing the best for your child and increasing their chances of success can be so heavy.
According to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), ADHD is a common behavioral condition that can affect up to 11 percent of school-aged children. It is usually characterized by being fidgety and easily distracted. As CHADD noted, other symptoms could be appearing not to listen, being scattered or forgetful, talking excessively, being excessively physically active, or having difficulty waiting.
With proper treatment and support, kids with ADHD can be very successful. Fully supporting a child with ADHD usually requires a team of caregivers (parents, teachers, coaches, therapists) to be on the same page requiring the child's specific needs. Using adaptations, such as fidget toys, can prove to be an extremely useful way for children with ADHD to self-soothe and improve focus, as noted in The Wall Street Journal.
Fidget toys typically come in a few different categories that align with various needs that little minds and bodies with ADHD could have. Recognizing your child's specific needs, and providing appropriate adaptations, can go a long way in supporting your child's individual development.
1. Calming Fidget Toys
According to a study published in Child Neuropsychology, kids with ADHD often need to feel grounded or settled in order to sustain attention. Fidget toys that provide calming input can do just that. Things like Wikki Stix, Flexy Fidgets, and plastic nuts and bolts can all help to promote a greater attention span by increasing calming sensations for your child. A weighted lap pad can also help to provide additional calming input, but be sure to work with your child's therapist to ensure proper usage.
2. Alerting Fidget Toys
For some kids, added stimulation works best to increase focus and attention, as noted by research in The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. For these children, fidget toys with added light, noise, or color can help provide an alerting input. Wacky Tracks are a popular choice for kids who need alerting input, as are light-up balls, Pop Toobs, and GyRings. As an added benefit, GyRings don't make noise, so they're beneficial in a classroom environment, as well.
3. Chewy Fidget Toys
Children with a need for increased oral input can benefit from chewy fidget toys. Chewing can help to increase oral/motor stimulation and can result in a longer attention span and improved focus, as noted by research in a study published by The University of Puget Sound. Chewy tubes, chewy pencil toppers, chewy jewelry, and other chewable fidgets are all appropriate ways for your child to receive additional oral/motor input. It helps to keep a fair amount of these on hand, and they will inevitably be needed to washed and sanitized often.
4. Resistance Fidget Toys
Fidget toys that have a bit of "give" or resistance can be useful for children whose hands need to be pushing, pulling, or squeezing. As mentioned in The New York Times, resisting input can provide a calming input for many kids and can result in a decrease of undesirable behaviors. Thinking putty, stress balls, massaging pencil grips, and Squidgie balls are all great options for fidget toys that have resistance.
5. Tactile Fidget Toys
Children with a need for tactile input typically are drawn to different touches and textures. Anything that is interesting to touch — fuzzy, slimy, sticky, gooey, scratchy, or slinky — can work to help them sustain focus and attention, as noted in The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology study. Koosh balls are a definite favorite among these kids, and because they are inexpensive and not messy, parents love them too. Playfoam, kinetic sand, and Ziggy Pasta are all fun options for tactile input, as well, but would be better suited for a home enviroment.
Sorting through endless research on what fidget toy is best for a child with ADHD can seem so overwhelming. You know your child best, and thinking about their specific needs can help to narrow down the many options. Sometimes, a little trial and error is necessary to find what works, but rest assured that there are many ways to support your child on their unique path.