A recent article by ADDitude Magazine, “When ADHD Kids Forget: Better Focus Through Multitasking”, explores the idea that children with ADHD might benefit from having “fidgets.” In other words, by tapping their feet, chewing gum, listening to music, or playing with a simple toy – any simple repetitive exercise – while studying or in class may actually improve their focus and attention.
Spark, a book by John Ratey MD “shows that physical activity increases levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the way ADHD medications do. Both chemicals play a key role in sharpening focus and increasing attention.”
Students with ADHD tend to tune out when tasks get boring, so by allowing them to feed into their need to fidget, you’re actually helping them to engage the parts of their brain that allow for focusing. Doing two things at once can focus the brain on the primary task. Called “Secondary Focusing” by some, these mindless distractions can include pacing or doodling while on the phone, for instance, or chewing gum while taking a test.
While some schools may frown on typical “fidgets” behavior such as listening to music or chewing gum in class, for students with ADHD, this might be just the type of activity that will help keep them on task. Some unobtrusive, silent, tactile tools you might check out are FiddleLinks Fidgeter, Fidgeting Finder Spring, or a simple sand-filled balloon.