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May 31, 2021 3 min read

Pop Fidgets and other sensory toys made of silicone have invaded TikTok and elementary school playgrounds. Is this a passing fad, a concentration aid, or both?


According to Dr. Katherine Isbister, a professor of computer media at the University of California, fidgeting is a fairly common behavior, and its growing recognition has led to an increase in innovation around products like the Pop Fidget, which are intentionally designed and marketed to support fidgeting.


"A lot of times, people just use whatever they can get their hands on - a paper clip, a flash drive," she explains. "People say Fidgets help them pay attention and focus, and they also say Fidgets can help them calm down or work through feelings like anger."


Children are no exception. Isbister says there hasn't yet been enough "rigorous scientific research" on manipulative toys, but she says the studies she has conducted with children and their caregivers on manipulation imply that "the right kinds of manipulatives seem to help children focus and manage their emotions."


Isbister is currently collaborating with experts in children's social-emotional learning, including Dr. Julie Schweitzer of the University of California Davis, to conduct research on the impact of fidget objects on the attention of people with ADHD.


She explains that some therapists recommend fidget objects to people managing ADHD, as long as the devices do not attract the attention of others through movement or noise. This may explain the rapid rise and fall of the fidget spinner.


Definition of ADHD

Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hyperactivityis a neurobiological disorder of the brain that can produce attention difficulties, hyperactivity and impulsivity.


We all have difficulty from time to time in staying still, concentrating or controlling impulsive behavior. However, in the person with ADHD, the symptoms are so persistent and pervasive that they interfere with daily life at school, at work, and in interactions with friends and family.


According to a study led by child psychiatrist Dr. Michel Bader, attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity affects at least 4% of school-aged children and adolescents.


The fundamental causes of ADHD are not yet sufficiently known. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that ADHD has a biological basis. Several studies show a genetic disposition as well as a dysfunction of the brain metabolism that are at the origin of the disorder.


The attention deficit reflects difficulties in concentration. The child cannot concentrate for long periods of time, is easily distracted, often seems not to listen when spoken to, avoids engaging in activities requiring sustained attention, and often loses objects needed for work or activities. Hyperactivity is characterized by difficulty staying still. The child often fidgets with hands or feet, talks too much, often leaves his or her seat and acts as if he or she is "on springs. Impulsivity is manifested by a tendency to be irritable and by difficulties in controlling emotions, frustrations and stress. All three of the above components vary in severity and intensity from child to child.


There is no single test for ADHD. A comprehensive and detailed assessment is required to make a diagnosis. Information from a variety of sources, especially parents, physicians and teachers, will help the professional make an accurate diagnosis using standardized assessment scales.


Although individuals with ADHD can be successful in life, without proper screening and treatment of the disorder, ADHD can have serious consequences, including academic failure, depression, low self-esteem, personal relationship problems, substance abuse, and behavioral problems. It is therefore extremely important to identify it as early as possible in order to control it.


Sources: The Guardian, www.aspedah.ch


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