Do fidget spinners actually help with sensory issues?

Some schools say they are a distraction.

BOISE - If you have kids, you've probably seen or heard about the new gadget called fidget spinners. Some have claimed they can help relieve stress and focus; while others say they've become a huge distraction.

Just like Pokémon, Yo-Yo's, and slap bracelets, the new hit thing this year is fidget spinners.

"A couple of the kids started having them at school and suddenly everybody had to have one,” Camilla Swainston at Craft Warehouse said.

The small propeller-type toy is flying off shelves. Craft Warehouse in Meridian started selling them just about a month ago.

“We would get a shipment in and in about two days it would be off the shelves,” Swainston said.

Every day hundreds of people will come in just to get their hands on this hot new item.

“I would say about 500 people,” Swainston said.

The toys were originally designed to help children with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, stay focused. It’s a claim we took to Ann Short, an occupational therapist at St. Luke’s Children Rehab.

“We definitely have heard a lot about these fidget spinners over the last few weeks. Kids who I'm working with come in and ask if I have one,” Short said.

Short added a fidget, like the spinning fidget, is designed to help those kids who may need a little more sensory input with learning, whether it be through touch, visual or auditory.

“I think what we're finding with the fidget spinners is there isn't one tool that works great for each child. It's individualized based on those sensory needs, and so the fidget spinner can be great for kids who like having that tactile input,” Short said.

While the spinners may help some focus, it can be a distraction for others.

“There's that sound, which some of us may not pick up the high pitch sound, but for other kids who have auditory sensitivity, that can also be a trigger for them and may see more difficulties focusing,” Short said.

Regardless if parents are buying these to help their child or just because they’re cool, schools are cracking down on spinners, calling them a distraction. Some schools in the Treasure Valley have even sent out an e-mail to parents asking for their children not to bring them to class.

Short added there are other options for kids with sensory needs to help keep their focus.

“Something great would be a like a little stress ball, a squeeze ball that they can have and play with at their desk. There's something called the tangle that they can move and pull apart into little pieces. There are things on top of erasers,” Short said.

Although, fidget spinners are banned from some schools, stores aren’t expecting sales to slow down

“We're trying to meet the demand of the community,” Swainston said.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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