Who says fidgeting is bad? For many kids with autism, sensory or listening challenges, fiddling with a toy can help them keep calm, focused and attentive. Koosh balls are cool for wee ones, but how about teens? Find a few fixations in our photo gallery for older kids who can benefit from a bit of positive preoccupation.
Many kids with special needs fidget, but toys can help build focus. Find great new ways to keep hands busy at family/therapist-run funandfunction.com – including its on-the-go plush and denim marble mazes. Kids use their fingers to find the marble in the fabric and push it through the maze and back again, which works fine motor skills and problem solving, too. They’re $12.99 each.
This lanyard, which was made by an adult with autism, comes in wooden and plastic varieties, and allows for discreet fidgeting. Each lanyard is about 6 inches long and has a key ring at the end so you can attach this to car or house keys. Beads are nearly silent when rolled. $2.25-plus. stimtastic.co.
This patented product won’t give away its secret purpose at first glance. However, fidgeters will recognize the hidden potential that the Kineckt Gear Ring has for fingers. The micro-precision gears work in unison when the outer bands are turned, providing instant relief for restlessness. Available at Kinekt Design online for about $165.
Sold in packs of four, these fidget-friendly pencils keep fingers busy. Each one has a different fidget near the eraser that can be taken off and moved onto another pencil. The cool designs feature a wing nut plus nut-and-bolt pencils – along with two others. Check them out at Discount School Supply online for around $7 a pack.
Have a LEGO lover in your life? Then the Eureka Ball by Creative Whack is for you. This kinetic toy uses 12 blocks and rare earth magnets to create endless design possibilities. Excellent as a fidget while encouraging right and left brain communication and problem solving. Warning: Keep away from pacemakers and young kids (small magnets are located in the toys and, if dislodged, are very dangerous if swallowed). For ages 14 and up. Find it at Fat Brain Toys for about $22.
Looking for something a little squishy – or drippy? Look no further. Smart Mass Thinking Putty fits the bill. It even shatters, shears and tears, keeping hands occupied and attention focused on the task at hand. Try this nifty product in different styles or colors at ThinkGeek. Price ranges from $12.99 to $14.99.
Best suited for tweens and teens, due to its small size, this fidget will help ease anxiety and can be quickly stored or retrieved from a pocket. Designed by a person with ADHD, the ultimate fidget toy is sure to be a hit with anyone needing a fidget friend. Available via Amazon for about $15.
This little pediatric hand exerciser does double duty as a fidget and a hand strengthener. The ergonomic design and soft exterior make it easy and appealing to use. Kids won’t know they’re improving fine motor skills – they’ll just be happy to keep those hands in motion. Find it on Amazon for about $28.
This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for 2016.