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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Fidget spinners: Do they help or distract?

Fidget spinners — handheld, multi-pronged tops — are supposed to help hyperactive and anxious kids stay focused.  Some teachers say they’re distracting, reports Kristine Kim on Education Week Teacher.  Some schools have banned the toy, required a doctor’s note or limited students to using school-provided spinners.

Advocates of “fidget therapy” say under-stimulated students “may become restless” and “act out as they feel to need to increase stimulation, reports Kim. “The same study found that during academic tasks requiring concentration, students with ADHD engaged in fine motor activities like hair twirling, nail biting, and chewing on objects to generate and regulate stimulation in order to focus.”

“There are lots of adaptive learning tools; just like some kids need glasses, others need fidgets,” Melissa Feery, a special education teacher at Gainaird Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Mich., told the Washington Post.

However, rhere’s no proof spinners help children with ADHD or stress, Julie Schweitzer, director of the Attention, Impulsivity and Regulation program at the University of California Davis MIND Institute, tells the Sacramento Bee.

The toy is “becoming a huge distraction, Schweitzer said. “To me, it’s common sense. If you give somebody a toy or they could be doing classwork, what’s going to be more interesting?”

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