Do Fidget Spinners Actually Help ADHD?

They are beloved by children and an irritation to teachers and parents. Fidget spinners fly off  store shelves, touted as a gadget helps anxiety and treats symptoms of ADHD.

Is this true?

Do fidget spinners really help kids? Many child psychologists feel there isn’t an easy answer, including Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist and senior director of the ADHD and Behavioral Disorders Center at the New York-based nonprofit Child Mind Institute, who has said, “The most frequent thing we say to parents with an unfortunately disheartened tone is that if something appears like it’s an easy fix for mental health difficulties, it’s probably too good to be true.”

The toy's so new that not many studies have been conducted regarding its efficacy. But one child psychologist, Paulo Graziano, set up a study with colleagues after his own daughter became enamored with the toy.

What did he learn?

Graziano found that spinners caused children with ADHD to violate more rules. Kids paid less attention to the teacher, had more trouble staying on task, and were less able to answer questions when called on.

Graziano cautions parents that the toy can do more harm than good, because it distracts more than it helps.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Fidget Spinners Help ADHD ?

Fidget spinners seem to do the exact opposite of what their marketing promotes.  Why did we buy the notion  that they're a learning aid?

One theory goes that kids with ADHD fidget in order to increase their prefrontal cortex arousal and alertness. Another theory says that fidgeting absorbs their hyperactivity and helps them to calm down and focus. While natural movements can help kids to focus, fidget spinners don’t seem to trigger the same neural pathways as natural fidgeting.

The designers and marketers might have meant well, but  it appears that spinners don't help children with ADHD to focus.

What's a parent to do?

3 Tips to Help Your Child to Focus

Praise the positive.

Parents tend to concentrate on stopping the negative behavior of kids with ADHD. But research proves that  these kids do far, far better with positive reinforcement. Give your child tons of praise and attention for good behavior.

Befriend their teachers.

Speak with teachers every few weeks about your child's progress. Keep the dialogue upbeat, proactive, and appreciative of the teachers' efforts. Studies show that a positive collaboration between teachers and parents improves the child's  academic and social performance

Get smart.

Educate yourself on the developmental needs of kids with ADHD. and are two great places to start. Consult with mental health professionals who can offer their expertise on ADHD.

If you're the parent of a child with ADHD and want to learn more, please reach out to me. I'd be happy to talk about how I may help.