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article imageDo fidget cubes and spinners help with ADHD?

By Tim Sandle     Jun 11, 2017 in Health
Gadgets like fidget cubes and spinners are increasingly popular in homes and schools. One application of the toys is to help people with anxiety, autism or ADHD focus better. But how well do these devices work?
An interesting question poses by neuroscientists is whether children with ADHD move around and fidget because of the disorder; or whether the fidgeting and movements are a necessary coping mechanism, which helps alleviate the symptoms? This research question was recently discussed in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology (“Hyperactivity in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Impairing Deficit or Compensatory Behavior?”)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) refers to a group of behavioral symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It is classed as a neurobiological disorder. In most cases the disorder is diagnosed when children are 6 to 12 years old. A severe form of ADHD called Hyperkinetic Disorder.
Recently University of California-Davis researchers studied the correlation between movement in those with ADHD and performance on cognitive tests that required a person to focus. This was a type of “flanker test”, where individuals had to track the movement and direction of arrows across a screen. The review of the data showed a correlation between increased amount of movement and better performance.
Lead researcher Dr. Julie Schweitzer told NBC News: “It's not anything conscious, but you see children use hyperactivity to boost their attention. They go up and down the room, and jump on chairs and dive under the tables when something is very demanding or boring. When they are concentrating hard, their tongues are moving. There is always movement."
This research supports the use of fidget cubes and spinners. However, other research suggests that the toys are distracting and counter-productive. For instance, Elizabeth Maughan, a teacher, told NPR that the spinners: “make a noise. When you have 10 or 15 in a room, it's just this whirring and it's an irresistible siren call for everyone else to turn around and look at whoever has it out, and [it's] completely distracting.”
According to Laboratory Roots the pros and cons of the spinners requires further research. What is clear is the growing popularity of the devices. One Manhattan based wholesaler sold 20 million units to Wal-mart and Toys R Us in April 2017 alone.
More about Adhd, Anxiety, fidget spinners, fidget cubes, Psychology
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