Three weeks ago, I didn’t know what a fidget spinner was. Then within a week I had seen three in sessions, my children owned one each, and I was having discussions with schools about the best way to manage them. One of the most interesting conversations I had was with a child with Autism. He felt robbed! What he thought was for someone like him was now for everyone. He couldn’t understand why everyone would want one.
This made me reflect on the Down Syndrome Association tag line – not special needs, just human needs. All our bodies need to move, sometimes we can move in break times and that settles our bodies for a period but some of us need to move more often. The role of fidget spinners is to provide sensory input in a less distracting way. This can help improve concentration and attention on the task at hand through filtering out the excess sensory information. However, the fidget can only be of benefit if the child can still listen and attend to the teacher or where the focus is needed. Have you ever been in a group when half of the kids are watching the other kids fiddle and not listening to the group? So the other part to a great fidget is that it doesn’t distract others.
So what is the protocol for fidget spinners where you are? I have fidget spinners in my groups and have the following rules of engagement.
Expected fidget use:
Keep it low
Keep your focus on the activity
Don’t distract others.
We have fidgets but if it becomes a distractor, it’s out.
Fidgets have so much to offer so many. I do love that the universal design has come to the fore again to provide a device that is so popular, mainstreaming what might have been special needs to everybody needs
So maybe we should call them a fidget tool – as it conveys what they do?