There are a huge variety of sensory tools to experiment with, here I am focusing on “fidgets” whilst my other posts will cover many other exciting tools.
Fidget tools are a great strategy for busy hands, bodies and minds. They can assist with sensory regulation, concentration, reducing anxiety and supporting emotional regulation. So, what do I mean when I say a fidget? Fidgets come in all shapes, sizes and textures with the purpose of keeping our hands busy and in turn support our bodies and minds to feel calm or “just right”. They might have bits you twist and turn, a squishy ball, have a stretchy component or have a hard or rough texture.
There is no one size fits all and this is why we have so many different fidgets on offer. You might also find one tool works well for you one day but not on another day. I like to think that some days I need my coffee as thick and dark as mud and other days a weak milky coffee does the trick, it’s the same for sensory tools. Having a variety of fidgets available is a must for anyone with sensory needs, anxiety or just wanting to support their attention and concentration.
You might have noticed I like to use the term “tool” and not “toys”, you can use the terms interchangeably but my hot tip for classroom use would be to call them tools, this encourages use that is effective. Just like I need my pencil case at my desk to complete the task I need my “tools” to concentrate.
So here are some of my top tips for fidgets:
· Make the fidget a size that fits in your hand.
· Have a variety of tools available in a “toolbox”; a shoe box or basket is the perfect size.
· Make the fidgets different for example, hard, soft, stretchy and twisty.
· If you want to help your concentration pick tools that don’t make a noise.
· Tools wear out and needs change so be sure to keep topping up your toolbox with a mixture of new tools.
· If you are supporting someone else be sure to reflect to them if the tool is helpful or not for example “you look like your using that tool well, is it helping you feel calm?", this will support them to increase their awareness and ability to self-regulate.
· Consider using the term “tools” or “toys” depending on the situation. There are times we need tools to be tools and times where sensory toys are fun and used in a playful way!
· Make sure your toolbox is always easily accessible.
Happy regulating everyone!