NASHVILLE, Tenn.–Fidget spinners have become America’s new “IT” toy and also the subject of national debate.
The toys have actually been around for a few years, marketed as a device to help children dealing with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The premise is the spinner will allow children and adolescents with ADHD to be preoccupied, allowing for more focus in the classroom or with the task at-hand.
Consumer demand has exploded recently, with both online and brick and mortar retailers stockpiling the toy. Given the toy’s intent, fidget spinners have made their way into homes and classrooms. However, the toy has also become popular among children not dealing with ADHD and some schools have even banned them, calling it a distraction.
FOX 17 spoke with Dr. Brett Shapiro, a child psychologist in Nashville who works with children and adolescents with ADHD to get his take on fidget spinners.
Dr. Shapiro says he hasn’t really seen any in-depth studies surrounding the effectiveness of fidget spinners and if they are “really helping mental health or harming it.” Dr. Shapiro says it is also possible for children to become more focused on the spinners than the subject matter they should be focused on, but adds the spinners shouldn’t be written off.
“I understand where teachers are coming from and how they could become a distraction, especially for students who are not using the spinners,” Shapiro says. “However, I wouldn’t dismiss the idea for a child.”
Dr. Shapiro says a solution would be to have educators and parents get a baseline behavioral evaluation on the child before they are given the toy and then another evaluation of the child with the toy.
“This way a parent or educator knows if the toy is effective,” Dr. Shapiro says.
Shapiro says in the end, parents shouldn’t look at the spinners as a cure or final solution to helping with ADHD.
“It’s not going to cure ADHD, I think it’s a good strategy to include, but setting a reinforcement schedule based on a child’s behavior and scheduling break time are also important strategies,” Shapiro said. “A fidget spinner is just another technique to employ.”
As a specialist in treating children and adolescents with ADHD, I can help your child to develop strategies and coping skills to help with the challenges they face. For more information, contact me.