Causing or Curing a Distraction: ADHD Community Reacts to Fidget Spinners

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Fidget spinners are a hot new toy that has invaded homes and classrooms alike, providing a release to those with an insatiable need to fidget throughout the day. Some say these widgets can really help children stay focused, especially those with ADHD, anxiety or autism. However, others argue they’re ultimately a distraction to individuals and entire classrooms. Schools across the country have begun banning them as a result. 

Dr. Hallowell plans to give his own thoughts on fidget spinners, cubes, and other fidget toys in a future episode of Distraction. Meanwhile, we found a passionate discussion from the ADHD community on Reddit and asked users if we can include some of their thoughts here. Take a look.

ADHD Community on Fidget Spinners

“The spinner is way too much noise for me to focus. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone to be forced to try and focus in class with one of those going in the room. I fidget pretty much constantly and having one thing I can take anywhere really helps, so I’d say a cube [read: fidget cube, a different ADHD toy] is the way to go.”
– Reddit user RagingOcelet

“I sell fidget toys and they are more of a fad I think. I have ADHD and rarely use them for fidgeting.”
– Reddit user Starklet

“I like my cube because I can fiddle with it in my pocket or under a table in situations where I need to sit still for a long time without being distracting. It definitely helps me focus on otherwise boring tasks. I don’t plan on getting a spinner because it’s the equivalent of doodling in class: useful for passing the time, but ultimately distracting from getting actual work done.”
– Reddit user HyperFrosting

“The cube helps me more than the spinners, but I agree with a previous poster who said that using them after the fad has worn off is kind of like advertising our invisible illness.”
– Reddit user AnotherOneAvailable

“There are two main categories of fidgets, in my opinion. The first category is a fidget that allows you to distract yourself from negative behavior or thoughts. Let’s call these distraction fidgets. This type shouldn’t be used in the classroom, or at the very least needs to be in an area that is not distracting to other students. The second category of fidgets allow you to concentrate better while using them. Let’s call these focusing fidgets. Focusing fidgets need to be silent and not too flashy so they don’t distract you or your peers. Ideally they should be something you can use one handed so that you can also be writing notes while you use them. Spinners fall in the first category of distraction fidgets but are being used as if they belong in the second category.”
– Reddit user Cloudbreaks

“My son goes to a behavioral therapy school because he is severely ADHD and has oppositional defiant disorder and can’t function in a normal classroom with causing issues or being a distraction. Even his therapeutic school has banned spinners because the kids use them as toys and not as therapy devices. They’re fine with the cubes though. When you have an entire class using them and playing with them, it causes an issue, especially with kids who have issues focusing as is.”
– Robyn B., Chicago

“It’s a toy like every other toy that blows through schools for three weeks then disappears. I’m waiting for them to inevitably disappear, then I can use them to ACTUALLY focus, not as a toy. My school pretty quickly banned them unless you have ADHD on file, in which case they have no problem letting you use them.”
– Reddit user arc_968

“I find the spinners to be a distraction — my brain’s like, “How in the heck are we supposed to see anything else but that?” It doesn’t give me personally any sort of satisfaction; I find them irritating. I feel very differently about my fidget cube. The cube really helps me — I am an acne picker, mascara picker, scalp picker, scalp peeler, pen destroyer, etc.”
– Reddit user ahomegirlslife

“I’ve personally found them really helpful! To be honest I personally find them better than fidget cubes because there’s only one type of action you can really do, so I don’t end up getting distracted by it. I use them predominately in the classroom, by the way.”
– Reddit user 1000Colours

Overall, fidget spinners seem to have garnered very mixed opinions. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section, or tweet us @Distraction_pod.

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