Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Don't toy with me

Fidget spinner
Following in the wake of Cabbage Patch Kids, Beanie Babies, Pokémon cards and those things called Pogs, the milk bottle caps that never really made sense...today's kids are into their Fidget Spinners.

I saw one for the first time the other night at the firehouse alumni night, when a kid of about 10 showed me the toy that's sweeping the nation.

Hey - toymakers - how about making a toy broom one of these days? That's a fad that could really sweep the nation.

But a fidget spinner is a little like a handheld ceiling fan. It has a stable middle section and paddles that you make spin. There's no battery or portable powerpack; the kid supplies the power.

Toymakers will see that and figure out how to make these things battery operated, and then will add a tiny solar panel so the kids can leave the toy in the sunlight to juice them back up again.

But it was interesting to learn that the original purpose was not to drive the kid in the next seat crazy, or be the latest seized item to fill up the teacher's middle right drawer. No, they were make to help the kids who deal with ADD.  Attention Deficit Disorder can be ameliorated somewhat by giving the sufferer's hands something to do.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus is the co-founder of ImpactADHD, a coaching service for children with attention disorders and their parents, and she says, "Promoting fidgeting is a common method for managing attention regulation. For some people [with ADHD], there's a need for constant stimulation," she says. "What a fidget allows some people -- not all people -- with ADHD to do is to focus their attention on what they want to focus on, because there's sort of a background motion that's occupying that need."

Image result for ball bearings
Ball bearing

I can buy that. When I worked a desk job, I had a ball bearing that I would spin sometimes as I mused and pondered...sort of the same thing. There are all sorts of desk toys for adults, and so why not allow kids to keep their hands in gear?

I worked with a woman who was absolutely incapable of sitting still.  I saw through many a meeting with her, and at no time was she ever totally sedentary. Either her hands were fluttering or her feet were tapping or her eyebrows were going up and down like venetian blinds or her arms were flapping, but at no time was nothing moving, and if she could have had a fidget spinner in her non-dominant hand, like maybe under the desk, the rest of her could have paid better attention to the proceedings.

And no, this is not my justification to go and buy my own spinner. I still have my ball bearing!

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