Fidgets for Students (That Don’t Make Noise or Make a Mess)

Fidgets have been all the rage in the past few years but many of them are more of a distraction than a low-tech assistive technology aid. Many of them can make noise or make a huge mass. When you have multiple kids in a room it can be very hectic. After working in the schools or clinic for 11 years, I have picked 4 of my top new fidgets for the classroom, clinic, or home.

I previously worked as an RBT for about a year while I was working on some clinical work in special education specific to autism. One of the teenage girls loved her Mochi squishies. They were the perfect reinforcer for her and were a great sensory item or fidget too. Mochis are similar to squishy balls but they are soft and tiny, about the size of a half-dollar coin. The same girl also had one of these peas and peanuts hanging from her backpack and if she ever forgot her Mochi her second choice would always be the peanut or the pea.

One of my newest findings is one that I am so excited to try myself! I have seen tons of videos online and it is super quiet. It is called the ONO Roller and they have it in adult and kid sizes. It rolls quietly and effortlessly through your hands with ease. It also comes in many colors! Lastly is the “bendy people magnets” more formally called MagMen. The MagMen have magnets on the ends of the feet and hands and can form together to create unique and fun structures. While it is quiet, I would most likely use it as a center in elementary school or as a positive reinforcement activity. I could see how the MagMen could be used in clinical, home, and educational school settings.

Benefits of Fidgets

Fidgets can be beneficial for students with disabilities, particularly those who have difficulty with attention, focus, sensory processing, or self-regulation. Here are 5 ways in which fidgets can help this population of students in the classroom, clinic, or home:

  1. Promoting Focus and Attention: Fidgets provide a tactile outlet for excess energy, allowing students to engage in movement or sensory stimulation while maintaining focus on the task at hand. They can help redirect restless or fidgety behaviors, preventing students from becoming overwhelmed or distracted.
  2. Sensory Regulation: Many students with disabilities have sensory processing challenges and may seek or avoid certain sensory inputs. Fidgets can serve as a tool to regulate sensory needs by providing appropriate tactile, proprioceptive (input related to body awareness), or vestibular (input related to balance and movement) stimulation. Fidgets can help students find their optimal level of arousal and promote self-regulation.
  3. Enhancing Concentration: For some students, having something to manipulate or engage with, such as a fidget, can actually improve their ability to concentrate and retain information. The repetitive motions or tactile feedback from fidgets can create a calming effect, allowing students to better focus on the task at hand.
  4. Reducing Anxiety and Stress: Fidgets can help alleviate anxiety or stress levels in students with disabilities. Manipulating a fidget toy or object can provide a sense of comfort and security, serving as a coping mechanism during challenging situations or transitions. Fidgets can help redirect nervous energy and provide a calming outlet for emotional regulation.
  5. Individualized Support: Fidgets come in various forms, such as stress balls, fidget spinners, textured objects, or fidget jewelry, allowing for individualized support based on each student’s preferences and sensory needs. Offering a range of fidget options allows students to choose what works best for them and empowers them to take an active role in managing their own sensory experiences.

Parent ABA bonus material: ABA Practices at Home & Resources for Parents

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