An Autistic Person’s Perspective on Fidget Toys | Autism Awareness Month 2017
I’ve wanted to write a post about self-stimulatory behaviour and stim-related toys for a while now, and the latest crazes have offered me the perfect opportunity.
What are these crazes, you ask? The spinner toy and the fidget cube, of course! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ll have seen pictures of these on social media in recent weeks. These toys have opened up a once-exclusive market, aimed towards autistic people, and people with ADHD, anxiety and similar disorders, to anyone who wishes to own one.
I feel like this is a step in the right direction. With fidget toys becoming an acceptable way of holding concentration, minorities who need these toys will no longer be looked at as ‘weird’ or as non-conforming individuals.
However, there have been some people who disagree with the acceptance of fidget toys. With fidget spinners and fidget cubes. in particular, becoming international sensations for people everywhere, some teachers claim they offer more of a distraction than a concentration aid.
In a way, I can understand where these teachers are coming from. There is always the possibility that these toys are being used incorrectly by people who feel their original use is boring or unoriginal. You’re also going to have the children who use these tools to purposely frustrate their teachers.
Does that mean that those who spoil it for others should lead to them being banned in schools everywhere, though?
I don’t think so. I believe that they have their place in every environment, even for people who may not fit the target criteria. After all, who has the right to police an industry like this? Who is to say that these tools don’t help neurotypical people in the same way as neurodiverse ones?
Although neurotypical people may not have the need to stim in the same way as neurodiverse people, they still do it. Ever fiddled with a piece of blue-tac, or bitten the end of a pencil repeatedly? Congratulations, you could qualify for a fidget cube! All these toys are doing is offering more ways of fidgeting or stimming for neurodiverse and neurotypical people alike.
I’ve definitely had experience of neurotypical people benefiting from fidget toys in my own life, too.
For substance, I’ve been carrying a tangle toy around in my college bag for the last year and a half. I haven’t always been confident in using it, but if I need it, it’s the first thing I reach for now.
There have been times when friends have been curious about it, or I have offered it to them to try out. Many of them have commented that it has helped them to concentrate, or could see how it would do.
Although tangle toys aren’t the latest craze, they still hold the same purpose. I use mine to regulate sensory input, and when I’m very anxious. I’m sure many people use the spinner fidget toy and fidget cube for the same reasons.
In reality, a lot of neurotypical people struggle with concentration problems. There have been many studies into this, which suggest that people can concentrate anywhere between seven and twenty minutes at a time. If there are toys out there intended to lengthen the amount of time someone can concentrate for, surely that’s a good thing?
I’d love to know what other people’s opinions on fidget toys are in the comments below!
Thank you for reading and until next Saturday,