By Danielle Allen - Service Administrator
In today’s modern age, many of us with children do find ourselves letting them watch YouTube from time to time. The videos more often than not, consist of unboxing of toys, some of which are fidget spinners. I could never understand why my children found these entertaining which is why I took it upon myself to research these types of toys. The more research I did either online or speaking to my son’s nursery teacher, I came to the positive conclusion that there is a benefit to the use of these toys.
My son has struggled with poor attention and listening which can cause disruption in his nursery activities. With him moving into reception this year, I decided to further my research into fidget sensory toys to see if they could be of use for my son and other children who struggle with similar behavioural issues. I found that not only do they help with attention and listening but also ASD, anxiety and many more. From fidget spinners to fidget cubes, putty to taggy blankets, sensory balls to squishies. The list is endless on the variety of sensory toys available which allow families the ability to do trial and error for which one works best for your child.
A recent purchase for my son was a sensory fidget bag with a variety of toys inside. I actually found this from a fantastic online store on Facebook called Once Upon A Time. I showed my colleagues who have now purchased these for their children they see in clinic and at school. There has been great feedback from both the children and parents.
So, what exactly is a fidget toy and how do they help? Fidget sensory toys are tools which can help boost attention through the use of the toy which could allow him or her to focus more at school or at home. As I had mentioned before, there are a variety of different toys available from the way they look, to the way they feel, and in the general use. The fidget spinner for example, has a central disc on ball bearings with extended wings allowing you to spin the device. Or there is the fidget cube which has sensory tools on each face of the cube such as, a roller ball or a spring action button.
Overall, there are numerous benefits using these toys to address certain struggles a child faces at school or at home. The biggest is increasing the concentration and focus of a child. Studies have shown that using the left and right hemispheres of the brain is required for learning and carrying out task. Fidget toys have been proven to help these as movement and sensory input are essential and allow this to happen. Case studies have assisted this research in confirming that increased focus in a learning setting was achieved in a student who was using a stress ball.
Another huge benefit is using these toys to reduce anxiety. Fidget toys, although not a cure, can have a calming effect of those who suffer with anxiety or sensory issues, such as ADHD and ASD. It can help relieve the symptoms the user gets notably in the hands and fingers, they keep their hands busy. Some parents and teachers have raised concerns of it becoming more of a distraction however with children with ADHD or ASD for example, a situation can become overwhelming causing more disruption and potential harm. Fidget toys allow the child to fidget which can be a minor disruption at first, but can have a vast amount of benefits such as a soothing or calming effect. This can then develop to increased concentration and focus which boosts the productivity and learning for the child and classmates.
From a personal perspective, I have found fidget sensory toys highly beneficial for my son and am hoping he will continue to improve when he starts reception. It is a working progress which I will take at his pace as after all, it is going to be beneficial for him growing and building up his skills with attention and listening. I am looking forward to trying the variety of fidget toys we have and testing which ones help him focus more.