The Fidget Spin: Treatment or Distraction?

By Erin O’Donnell

The latest fad to hit the market are fidget spinners. Often given a medical connotation called “focus spinners,” these little toys are marketed as helping those with anxiety or ADHD to help satisfy their need to tap their finger. General Psychiatrist Dr. Nan Link M.D., of Sutter Health in California, says there’s a time and place for these toys, but since it’s not a medical device it opens the doors to being a distraction in the classroom. Little to no research has been conducted on how they help with anxiety and ADHD in children, but psychiatrists agree that the effects of this little 3-inch device can help curb the urge to tap a foot or finger. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found that children ages 8-12 with ADHD and who felt the need to participate in “gross motor activity” didn’t perform as well academically as those allowed to move in class. Kristen Bennett, an elementary teacher in Connecticut, said they aren’t worth the distraction. ‘I understand how they can help certain students focus but to other children it’s seen as just a toy.’

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