All for Fidgeting

Since I am currently in the process of studying to obtain certification as an ADHD coach, it was with great enthusiasm that I read the recent article on the fidget spinner craze. Contrary to what is expressed in the article, I have encountered both scientific and anecdotal evidence that fine motor fidgets as well as gross motor fidgets can help the ADD brain to focus (Dr. Edward Hallowell, Hallowell ADHD Centers). For example, while listening to an otherwise uninteresting lesson, engaging in a fidget like squeezing a small ball, fiddling with beads on a bracelet, or even doodling can enhance focus.

In addition, experts say that effective fidgets can include any task that uses a sense other than the sense used for the primary activity (Dr. Roland Rotz, ADD expert and author of Fidget to Focus). Successful fidgets can engage our sense of smell, sound, taste, sight or touch. Some examples include chewing gum or sucking on a sour candy, listening to background music and using colorful tools (e.g. pens, highlighters, folders) or scented markers.

The key in the classroom or office setting is that the fidget is silent and otherwise not disturbing to others. Also, for the fidget to be effective it must be intentional and not distract you from your primary task. Fidgets are not one-size-fits-all, but by experimenting with different fidget strategies an individual with ADHD can improve both focus and performance.

A. Nirenberg, Spring Valley, N.Y.