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fidgets for sensory needsI think of a fidget as any small item or toy that helps keep one’s hands busy and helps them focus while completing an activity. Almost anything can be a sensory fidget. Even basic household items or small party favor toys can make great fidgets. You can make your own fidgets, or buy them from catalogs, online or even in local stores such as a party store, a craft store, or the dollar store.

A Toy or a Tool?

I have found fidgets to be a very helpful tool for me for many years. When I was much younger, I was taught that fidgets were to be used as a tool, and not like a toy. A tool is something that can help one focus, while a toy can distract both the individual playing with the fidget and others around them. This can be a hard thing for an individual to understand as some of the best fidgets that I have found are indeed toys, but they make great tools.

Finding the Right Fidget

It is important to remember that a person’s needs, wants and preferences with regards to fidgets can change over time. A fidget your child or student likes and finds helpful one day, may be distracting the next.

Be sure to have a wide variety of fidgets available and allow your child to choose their own. Different types of fidgets meet different sensory needs, so it depends on what movement the individual is seeking (twisting, squeezing, rubbing, bending, pulling etc.). Make sure that sensory fidgets are available to the child throughout their school day, at home, and while they are out in the community.

Ideas for Fidgets

Clay Related Compounds

Modeling clay and similar compounds that make great fidgets.  Explore ideas below or you can also find recipes online to make your own play dough, flubber, gak, oobleck, etc.

Small Toys

Small Toys that make great fidgets:

There are a variety of balls and toys filled with different things and they are meant to be squeezed. Examples include:

Some of these, you can make yourself. Make your own bead stress ball using a balloon and flour. Make your own rubber band ball by wrapping rubber bands around and around a styrofoam ball.

Consider Everyday Items

Consider everyday items as they make great fidgets:

Create a Fidget Bag

As suggested in Tutor Scripts to Talking Sticks, you can make a fidget bag for your child or student to help him remain focused in the classroom. Sort of like a sensory box to go, fidget bags can be kept in the student’s desk or even in a binder. Just get a pencil bag like the kind you can put into a binder. Fill it with items listed above that will calm, comfort and support your child’s individual needs

Fidget Buying Tips

Check the dollar discount sections in stores for great fidget items.

Buy multiples of a fidget your child or student really likes, just in case the beloved fidget gets lost, or misplaced. This is especially true for very small fidget items that can easily fall out of one’s purse, backpack, pocket or hands.

Have Fun Fidgeting!

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