Recently, with the introduction of the famous “fidget trend” everyone is becoming more aware of the benefits of sensory based input to achieve better success with school and other areas of their lives. My former students share that they continue to use these tools and strategies today. As adolescents transition to adults their sensory needs still remain, they just begin to take different forms. It is critical for individuals to continue to explore what works for them so that they can learn how to self-advocate for their sensory based needs in college as well as the workplace.
At Transition Steps to Success, we have found that there continues to be a need to explore new sensory-based strategies as it applies to new environments. Our focus is to help young adults adapt their childhood sensory strategies into tools that will support their new adult lives.
The following was recently featured in ADDitude magazine. I love these ideas even though they are geared towards children some of them are ageless so I wanted to share them with you. Remember, it is always best to consult with an Occupational Therapist who is well versed in providing unique personalized strategies to manage a variety of environments.
Here are eight fidgets worth trying:
- Walk and talk. When your child gets restless and tunes out an important conversation you’re trying to have with him, try walking and talking. Any non-strenuous activity, like playing catch or doing a jigsaw puzzle together, will also work. This is a powerful strategy for talking over your child’s day or having an important discussion with a partner who has ADHD.
- Doodle. Encourage your child to draw or write words or numbers when listening to a teacher’s lecture (just make sure he doesn’t doodle on the desk). Doodling will also help you focus when you’re on a long phone call with a client or are in an endless, boring meeting.
- Use multi-colored pens and pencils. This fidget works well when your child needs to complete an assignment or read for comprehension (he can underline words as he reads). Scented markers may also help.
- Busy your hands. This facilitates focus when a child is listening, talking, or thinking about how to answer a tough essay question. Fidget toys for school or home include cool-looking pens or pencils, beaded bracelets, paper clips (they bend into interesting shapes and can be linked together), and clothes with interesting textures or doodads. For adults at work, a small, smooth stone — a worry rock — in your pocket will allow you to fiddle without your boss or colleagues knowing. Curling your hair around a finger also works. At home, clients of ours find that either knitting or squeezing a Nerf ball can increase attention.
- Tune in. Plugging into an MP3 player helps children stay on task when studying, reading, exercising, or even going to sleep. Choose music that is appropriate to the task: a stimulating beat when exercising, calming tunes for sleep, and something in between when studying or reading. At the office, use this strategy on days when you are working at the computer and have little interaction with colleagues.
- Chew gum. This helps your child when he has to concentrate for an extended period — doing homework or taking a test. Chewing gum in the office is effective when writing a memo or having to slog through a week’s worth of e-mail. If gum is not an option, sucking on a lemon drop or other hard candy will also do the trick.
- Beat the clock. Set a timer for 20 minutes, and race to get as much done as possible before the alarm goes off. An adult can use this to accomplish any dull chore — doing dishes, paying bills, or picking up around the house. Your child can race the clock when doing worksheets, memorizing vocabulary, or cleaning up his room.
- Stand up or move around. Talk with the teacher about letting your child stand, at appropriate times, during the school day. A child can do this discreetly at the back of the room or at his desk. Some teachers assign a child two desks, so he can move from one to the other when necessary. Other teachers let restless kids be message runners and send them off on real or invented errands.
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