Fidget Toys....

Amy - posted on 03/21/2010 ( 15 moms have responded )

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Hi I've heard and read a lot about fidget toys. My son really requires one, ex. when he's sitting at night watching TV, trying to listen in speech therapy and during class time occasionally. My son is a fidget er, he HAS to constantly be moving some part of his body, which I know is common with SPD, but its not just the constant foot shaking or squirming that worries me. He will bite his nails, and its gotten so bad that he's gotten a couple staff infections on his fingers. Also, if he's not biting his nails then he's constantly scratching ALL over his body, and he'll scratch till his skin is raw.
I've tried several "fidget" toys.....sort balls (or stress balls), bubble wrap....which worked well for a while, and a soft, rubber crazy-looking worm thing that my mom gave him. I've even tried his lille Transformer toys, his Hot-wheels cars. Nothing seems to work, he'll use it for a couple minutes then put it down and start scratching or biting.
I need some ideas or suggestions on any other items I could use for a fidget toy.
Would a small stuffed animal work?
Pleas help.
Thanks

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Nanci - posted on 07/06/2010

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My son who is 7 has this problem as well. He needs to have something in his hands otherwise he is chewing his fingers up. His fingers have not gotten infected thanks to the constant cleaning them up but they have really bad sores on all of them. His OT gave him squishy balls to use while at school. At home we have different things depending on his mood. He uses a therapy putty which to me is just like "silly putty" when I was a kid. He can squish it, tear it,roll it, cut it ect. He also has a "chew toy" that is a hard rubber T shaped thing that he can chew on so he doesn't chew on his fingers. We also have hard plastic tubing (the kind you use for fish tank air tubing) that is thick and he also chews on that and plays with that as well. He loves legos. He spends hours on building legos. His OT says that it is good in many ways. This keeps his hand busy for a while. As for the scratching, maybe using detergent that is for sensitive skin and maybe even rinsing his clothes twice. I do. Also try brushing his skin. You could also try using a skin lotion as well. My son was telling me he was itchy all the time. I have done these and also using the lotion/rubbing/brushing helps calm him down. You have to experiment with lots of things and don't be afraid to think outside the box either. Good luck. Hope this helps a little.

Veronica - posted on 01/12/2011

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This book has all kinds of recommendations. Fidget to Focus: Outwit Your Boredom: Sensory Strategies for Living with ADD

Fern - posted on 05/21/2010

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What is your son sitting on during these spells? I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes giving them something to sit on that allows them to have a strong sensory connection with it like a special texture (one that will soothe rather than irritate) could really cut down on the fidgeting. You might not need the fidget toy, but if you do, let him choose it as long as it doesn't bother others. My son went from bouncing around even during story time until I found a TV cushion that you can throw on the floor to lay on or sit on to watch TV. It has a very soft, micro-velour cover and it has really helped him be able to sit through TV shows, reading a book, working a puzzle, etc.

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Shianna - posted on 11/19/2012

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my son has a chewy that he uses that workes well u may try that it may work and maybe a brush instead of scrashing

Melanie - posted on 10/30/2012

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My son's psychologist recommends baby chew toys for biting, she also recommends making lanyard necklaces (be careful where the lace is from, you want American made, not from China or Japan) and using those for biting problems, and keep a stimulation bag (especially for trips) that has favored small toys and that meet stimulation needs. And for the scratching use long sleeve shirts. You can add ribbon to the sleeves to help keep them down so that he can't raise them to scratch through and keep his fingernails cut nearly down to the quick.

Summer - posted on 10/07/2010

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My son has autism, He requires a fidget toy at his Nursery school when he's doing "circle" time. He use to touch other children or get "antsy". I ask the teacher to give him a little toy that doesnt make noise or wont distract the other children to help him focus better. The toy she gives him is a ball that has all those stringing, stretchy pieces that are attached. He sits there and just pulls on the strings or rolls the ball on the floor in front of him. It has seemed to work. The best fidget toys are toys that he only gets when he needs to focus and then it gets taken away (you dont want him getting "bored" or use to it) It has to be a new, interesting toy that he will be focused on. My son also has a "chewy" that he uses when he has the need to lick or put something in his mouth. He has it attached to his belt and that sometimes help. You can find them on the internet, Look for sensory toys.
All the best

Carol - posted on 09/25/2010

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Dear Amy:

I may be too late to this conversation, but I relate to your comment. Each time I've given my son a fidget, he's played with it and quickly tossed it aside. He's gone from scratching, pinching and shoving to poking eyes, spitting and stomping feet. He keeps coming up with new negative behaviors! He loves and is amazing at origami. As long as his hands are occupied folding paper, he is fine. Obviously, he cannot fold paper at all times--and not at school. At school, they have a fidget that clips onto his belt with a retractable cord. He loves it, because it's always there. It has a "nut" that can be moved up and down on a plastic screw, as well as a piece for chewing. I observed school for an hour and saw how much use it got! Perhaps the problem earlier was that the fidgets I tried did not attach. Now I can't find a retractable cord. Can anyone suggest a source? I just ordered Cazzandra's fidget buddy off ebay to give it a try.

Thanks,
Carol

Hartley - posted on 09/19/2010

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A small stuffed animal can work for pushing/squeezing if your goal is to get small motor skill proprioceptive input, but my suggestion is to offer overall proprioceptive input during seated time through a heavy blanket or before seated time with other large motor skill input (climbing, jumping, excerise, heavy work, pushing/pulling, weighted bakcpack, etc.). Also check out www.sensoryplanet.com for an entire network of SPD moms and forums!

Good luck,
Hartley Steiner
Author of This is Gabriel Making Sense of School
www.hartleysboys.com

Tami - posted on 07/08/2010

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We had the same problem with my now 7 yr old Granddaughter. She has just about all of the fidget/sensory toys that you all mentioned. And she used to "mouth" objects too so we had to find things like soft sippy straw cups,and something the OT suggested that she could chew on, etc.

She also loves her bean bag chair, and her child size rocking chair helps her too. We have it in front of her desk so when she eats it's there, and for when she does school work, art projects.

Good luck:O)

Cazzandra - posted on 06/23/2010

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Hi Amy,
I have a son with Aspergers and i developed this product called a fidget buddy. It clips onto their apnts and has all you fidget, tactile sensory toys attached to it. I supply them to a lot of kinders and schools and individual orders. my website is www.fidgetfactory.com.au. Industry professonals support the use of the fidget buddy as it helps calm your child. I custom make them. You can put your child name on it, choose your colors, choose to be made on a stretchy or non stretchy cord. It probably sounds like am trying to promote my product, but i know what its like to have a child with sensory issues and it took me a long time to develop this product as my child struggled at school with classroom noise and other issue and this has helped calm him. Best Wishes

Leslie - posted on 06/07/2010

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My daughter suffers from dermatillomania...obsessive skin picking, and I have similar challenges. She experiences a lot of discomfort from clothing, underwear, brushing her hair...but seems undeterred from picking. We gave her stress balls and therapy putty and through constant re-direction, we were able to get her to stop...for a while. She then began picking inside of her nose so that we could not see that she was picking. She picked all the way through the cartilage in her nose. I have been horrified, mystified and I have felt like a failure since it happened.

But, I talked with her occupational therapist about it, and she told me that sensory kids often crave sensations, too...and that she is getting something from the pain sensation. She suffers with anxiety, and this fits into the Obsessive/Compulsive category as well. There is a relief of tension that she feels when she has picked a scab...

Anyway, I don't have all the answers yet, but we are trying compression therapy and changing her fidget toys daily. We made "weighted lap snakes" out of tube socks that we filled with different matierials...rice, beans, etc.

From the research I have done, I have learned that the biting and scratching issues are not self-injurious behaviors as I had feared...but they are sometimes signs of being unable to express anger. My daughter is as sweet as she can be...almost too much so...and I think that it may be true. We all need to express our anger and frustation at times. I'm going to talk to her behavioral therapist about it, too.

We also use a Pilates ball for classwork and homework. Sitting on a ball seems to help her concentrate because she has a physical outlet..It also doesn't disrupt the class.

I hope this helps. Mostly, I think you need to change the fidget toys regularly and see if there is more to it than fidgeting. It could be unexpressed emotions as well.

Jennifer - posted on 03/28/2010

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My dd needs to move and fidgit. Our OT seggested wrapping an elastic cord (like a bungee cord) around the front chair legs. this allows her to repeatedly kick something without actually getting up or disturbing others. For the fidgiting, you could try different types of balls (stress balls, those squishy balls that have that sort of rubber hair all over it, etc.). you could also try giving him a ball of modeling compound like pasticine, etc. to squish around with. great for tactile sensory seeking needs.

Barbara - posted on 03/24/2010

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How old is your son? If possible, let him choose what he needs for a fidget toy. Different things work for different kids and at different times. Since he won't stay with one thing for long, though, it seems like it's more the need to scratch than the need to fidget. Does he have dry skin? Is his clothing bothering him? Could short sleeves help, or does he need long sleeves, or would the best thing be a tight fitting long sleeve? Am I making sense? It sounds like fidget stuff isn't the answer, so you need to look at why your child is scratching. Have you asked your OT?

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