We’ve only begun to understand how ADHD works, but even the earliest doctors, describing it several centuries ago, understood one thing very clearly: those afflicted with ADHD just can’t stop moving. Indeed, one of the earliest mentions of ADHD claimed a word for it that we’re still using today – fidget toys for adhd.
The doctor, a man named Alexander Crichton, was one of Russia’s royal physicians in the late 1700s, and had noted what most certainly was ADHD in several of his patients. They were easily distracted. They couldn’t focus. Above all, they couldn’t stop fidgeting.
As much as it’s a problem in classrooms now, well, it was a problem back then, too.
In fact, Crichton stated outright that it made some teaching almost impossible.
In short, some kids just can’t stop moving, can’t pay attention, and won’t respond to any threats or punishment.
They’re ADHD. They need to fidget. They need to play with something like fidget toys for adhd, with either hands or feet, to distract themselves from the fact that they’re very susceptible to distraction.
Fortunately, doctors and therapists have come up with dozens of solutions.
Fidget Toys for ADHD Aren’t Medication: Will They Really Work?
In many cases, yes – absolutely. Like with medication, what works and what doesn’t depends highly on the child.
However, given that we’re talking mostly about classroom settings, the one word we should value above all is the teacher’s.
If he or she can teach effectively, and ADHD kids can listen effectively, a proper fidget toy has done its job.
There are dozens upon dozens of different fidget toys for adhd on the market. Most are geared towards ADHD kids, some towards children on the autism spectrum, and some just for those with excessive energy. We’ve picked the best ones, divided them into categories, and presented them for you here.
Some will require a teacher’s permission first. Some might not work, and some might actually make things worse. It’s rare, but it can happen, and it’s important, as a parent, to follow up with teachers. The last thing you want is your therapy device to work against your child’s medication.
Fidget toys, after all, are medication, and they need to be tweaked in the same way that medication does – trial, feedback, and adjustment.
With that, let’s examine the best fidget toys on the market – and we’ll start by listing off the ones you don’t want.
Are All Fidget Toys the Same?
No – no, they are not. There are some you should absolutely avoid, and we’ve placed those, too, in a brief list.
1. Fidget Spinners
We’ve all seen these – a double- or triple-winged clover that rotates on a center of ball bearings. Spin it with your forefinger, and then let it wind down between your thumb and middle finger. It’s supposed to be soothing – and, to be frank, it is – but it’s one of the few you should avoid.
The first reason is simple: most teachers hate fidget spinners. They’ve grown incredibly popular over the past two years (in part, perhaps, because they actually work), and every student imaginable has shown up in class with one. They’ve gone from being therapy to a distraction.
If you’re expecting a battle with your child’s teacher about allowing a fidget toy in class, you’ll likely lose if you bring in a fidget spinner. You’re far better off with something that highlights your child’s need to move, rather than something that highlights the lack of attention of most of the neurotypical students.
For what it’s worth, too, if you don’t know exactly where your child’s fidget spinner came from, there’s a minute chance that it came from China, and may contain lead. It’s highly unlikely, but possible – and lead isn’t something to leave to chance, no matter how small.
2. Anything With Water
A number of fidget toys for adhd, especially those geared towards kids with sensory issues, contain a gel or water within a plastic coating. Don’t use these.
Again, it’s not that they’re not effective – they often are. But our focus here is the classroom, and nothing will be more distracting than the day your child breaks through the coating and spills the water or gel. It will happen – ADHD fidgeting is non-stop, and no container is invulnerable.
If it contains liquid, pass it by.
3. Anything Electronic
This one almost seems like a no-brainer, which is why we’re making it explicit – no fidget toys that make noise or light up. Nothing that needs electricity is acceptable.
4. Anything Edible
It’s easy to fidget with a candy necklace, and easier still to let the incoming sugar rush ruin any attempt made earlier to fidget away the distractions.
Besides, most classrooms won’t allow candy anyway. Save yourself the trouble, and don’t ask for permission for anything edible.
With that, let’s move on to the toys that do help your child focus.
Top 10 Fidget Toys for ADHD That Work
Each of these toys has helped actual students in actual classrooms focus. They may not have received rigorous scientific testing, but they’ve passed many a teacher’s individual tests.
We’ve grouped them according to movement, and given each a rating of 1 to 5 stars. All products on our list have at least 4 stars – there are a lot of fidget toys out there, and that lets us pick the best.
Fidget Toys for Legs
Our first two fidget toys focus on one irresistible ADHD urge – the need to kick or swing your legs while sitting.
1. Weighted Blankets
Heavy blankets have been used for years for kids with sensory issues, especially those on the autism spectrum. The extra pressure is soothing, and a mild invitation to resist against the weight – not too much, but just enough to quell the fidgets.
Blankets, though, would be embarrassing in class. A few companies have created more school-friendly solutions, among them the weighted lap pad. It’s as heavy as a weighted blanket, but nearly invisible to classmates.
We give the weighted lap pad 5 out of 5 stars.
- With many products on the market we wanted to create a product that was weighted properly, fit on a child’s lap, was...
- ✹ HIGH QUALITY MATERIALS ✹ The weighted material inside of Max is high grade thermal rock and a thermal interior...
- 💮DIMENSION: 20” x 23”.
- 💮WEIGHT: 5 pounds
2. Bouncy Bands
This fidget tool is simple and brilliant – a giant rubber band, tied between the front legs of a school desk, which students can either kick against or rock back and forth on their heels.
Teachers who use them love them, so you’re likely to be successful if you ask your child’s instructor if he or she can use them in class. The bands are quiet, easily deflect your child’s energy, and easily installed and uninstalled.
Bouncy Bands get 5 of 5 stars, from both parent and teacher reviews.
- The ORIGINAL Bouncy Bands for Chairs help students move while they work. Children enjoy bouncing their feet and feeling...
- The support pipes attach to the Bouncy Band to prevent them from slipping off the chair legs and becoming a nuisance....
- Bouncy Bands help students move while they work at their desk.
- Bouncy Bands improve student time on task since they aren't as anxious or hyperactive.
Fidget Toys for Mouths
When we think of fidgeting, our first thought as parents is ‘hands.’ That just means we’re likely not ADHD – because, half the time, a typical ADHD mind would think ‘mouths.’
It’s easy to fidget by chewing on something. It’s likely one of the minor factors that make ADHD kids more prone to smoking and substance abuse later in life.
Resisting nicotine is hard, but resisting the urge to fidget with something in your lips is nearly as hard, especially for an ADHD mind.
Giving your child something to chew might have longer-term benefits than you think. And if it helps classroom focus? That’s what we call a ‘win-win.’
3. Dog Tag Chewies
These are non-candy therapy chew toys, designed to remain innocuous until they’re used.
The tags are hardly visible in passing. They’re durable enough to withstand a semester of classes, and each has a raised baseball or football at the center for extra chewing and stimulation.
As an added bonus, the tags can easily slip underneath the shirt if your child is embarrassed.
Chewy dog tags and necklaces are more likely to be accepted by your child’s teacher than, say, gum. If chewing is the necessary fidgeting, these toys are the way to go.
Dog Tag Chewies get 5 of 5 stars.
- RISK FREE TRIAL - We offer a 100% risk free trial to make sure the chew necklace meets your sensory needs. Simply...
- IMPROVES FOCUS & CALM - The Solace chewelry necklace is the perfect chew tool for anyone needing oral stimulation.
- Diverts chewing from fingers, clothing and pencils and acts as a discreet, stylish sensory aid strung on a durable cord...
- Provides children with a point of focus that can assist with filtering out extra sensory information and assist with...
4. Bite Bands
Bite Bands are chewable, non-candy necklaces. And before you feel disgusted, understand that they’re made for being chewed, spit, and salivated on all day.
(Which is to say, they absorb a great deal of moisture, and won’t embarrass your child.)
It’s probable, as a parent, that you want to discourage your child from chewing on his or her clothing. For severe ADHD kids, though, you may not have much of a choice. Bite Bands take the pressure off your child’s shirt, and put that pressure on a six-pack of necklaces designed to take the heat.
Bite Bands get 4 of 5 stars, due to the need for constant washing.
- Chew Bands - Designed for moderate chewers and are a great way to prevent chewing on shirt collar and sleeves
- Value Pack of 6 – Includes six Chew Bands, designed for kids age 5+
- NATURAL INGREDIENTS: Our Kids Spiral repellent bands are made with natural plant based essential oils: Citronella,...
- DEET FREE : Our Mosquito Guard Kids Spiral Repellent bands are completely DEET FREE.
Fidget Toys for Hands
This category, of course, contains more toys than you could possibly dream of.
Hand fidget toys can be discreet, noisy, for one hand or two, for remaining calm, or gaining strength, or for developing motor skills. There’s no shortage of kids needing something to fidget with, and no shortage of creative ways to fill that need.
We’ve kept our focus here on toys that help kids concentrate in a classroom, but there’s a ton more that help develop strength and motor skills. Whatever your child’s needs are, there’s a toy that can help.
5. Grip Strength Trainer and Stress Ball
This is the best variant we’ve ever seen on the traditional stress ball – and unlike traditional stress balls, the Grip Strength Trainer doesn’t eventually split open, and spill its contents all over the classroom floor.
It’s a highly durable spring, tightly wound, and able to be squeezed in several different directions. It won’t break, it’s easily washed, and it won’t draw attention to itself.
In terms of single-hand fidgeting, the Grip Strength Trainer is the best we’ve seen for withstanding sheer physical tension.
Everyone loves this product. It gets 5 of 5 stars.
- RELIEVE YOUR STRESS ANXIETY hand therapy stress balls for reducing physical discomfort and relieving mental tension....
- STRENGTHEN YOUR GRIP, JOINTS & MUSCLES while reducing carpal tunnel & arthritis symptoms while relieving stress....
- RELIEVE YOUR STRESS & ANXIETY Serenilite three density hand therapy stress balls are great for reducing physical...
- STRENGTHEN YOUR GRIP, JOINTS & MUSCLES while reducing carpal tunnel & arthritis symptoms while relieving stress....
FiddleLinks are on the opposite end of the hand spectrum as the Grip Strength Trainer. Whereas the latter rewards sheer physical strength, FiddleLinks rewards dexterity.
These lightweight, interlocking pieces are the result of a good deal of physical therapy research. If your child isn’t easily frustrated and doesn’t need strength in a fidget toy, this is the way to go.
FiddleLinks gets 5 of 5 stars.
- LOWER YOUR STRESS AND ANXIETY: The flippy chain fidget has helped people to quit smoking, lower stress levels, succeed...
- SILENT YET SATISFYING: Perfect for hours and hours of non-distracting and silent fidgeting. The flippy chain doesn't...
7. Ztylus Gadget Addix 3 in 1 Rattle Pen
That’s an awfully complicated name for what is, essentially, a pen. That’s kind of the point, though. Fidget tools are there to help your child concentrate, and finish schoolwork.
What can finish schoolwork better than a pen?
This, of course, is no ordinary pen.
The Ztylus has a fidget spinner on one end and a drill-like body, making it the ideal writing tool for the ADHD child. When writing, the pen’s body puts pressure on the fingers. When still, your child can spin the top.
Ztylus Gadget Pens get 4 of 5 stars – good for writing, but fidgeting is limited primarily to thumbs.
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND DURABLE: Made from T6063 aluminum, the Rattle Pen weighs in at only 2.5 ounces. It is extremely...
- SMOOTH WRITING EXPERIENCE: The smooth writing pen tip is 0.7mm fine point with black ultra-smooth ink. Create a more...
8. Palm Weights
These are some of the simplest and most effective fidget toys for ADHD of all. Like with the weighted lap pads, sometimes a little extra pressure is all that’s needed to help an ADHD mind focus.
A weighted beanbag, attached to the hand with a strap, is a surprisingly cheap way to help your child focus (and also improve his or her penmanship).
Palm Weights get 4 of 5 stars, due to limited fidget ability but advanced writing therapy.
- The 1/2 pound CanDo Palm Weights provide extra hand and wrist stability during writing and other fine motor activities....
- Designed by experts, perfect for use at home or in the classroom
This small interlocking toy is little more than two rings overlapping with and intersecting two joints. It’s maddeningly simple, and equally maddeningly effective.
Flippy Chain Fidget Toys help both ADHD and autistic children, fit right in your child’s pocket, and can be handled without anyone seeing or hearing anything. They’re quite literally the ideal fidget situation – a great concentration aid, without anyone else noticing.
They’re also no more than a few dollars, so there’s little downside to giving it a try.
Pro tip? Don’t try to save a few dollars by ordering from China. Lead, again, is a very slim risk, but a risk nonetheless – and lead avoidance is absolutely worth a few dollars.
Flippy Chains get 4 of 5 stars – quiet, but limited fidget ability.
- STRESS RELIEF - quiet fidget ideal for children and adults suffering from anxiety, ADD and/or ADHD
- SMOOTH, FLUID MOTION - provides a quiet, discrete, and calming solution for focus and relaxation
10. Monkey Rings
Monkey Rings, unlike the hand fidget toys for ADHD mentioned above, stimulate the wrists, and not the fingers.
These are basically spiked bracelets, which can interlock with one another or remain on the wrist one at a time. Pull on them, push them into the skin, or roll them back and forth across the forearm – any movement is safe, and any movement provides enough stimulation to help the ADHD child concentrate.
The fidgeting, too, is silent, which your child’s teacher will love.
Monkey Rings get 4 of 5 stars – limited fidget ability, but sharp sensory input.
- ※ OUTDOOR FUN CHOICE - Best Choice of Gymnastics Rings for kids backyard ninja warrior obstacle course. With heavy...
- ※ PORTABLE & EASY SETTING UP - Small volume for convenient carrying and easy setting up with strong hooks, it takes...
- Builds upper body strength and confidence
- Teardrop design that comfortably fits a child's grip
Can Fidget Toys Solve My Child’s ADHD Problem?
No, of course not. Nothing can replace medication and therapy.
Fooling your child’s brain into paying attention is not the same as training it to pay attention, or providing the medication it needs to pay attention on its own.
Fidget toys can, however, help your child avoid distractions in the classroom. This helps with social situations at school, with grades, and with the sense of accomplishment that so many ADHD kids desperately need.
For a few dollars, it’s absolutely worth a try.