The popularity of fidget spinners and fidget cubes has helped many Americans to understand the importance of fidgets. The problem right now is that many schools have had to ban the spinners because kids are bringing them in, trading them, and causing distractions during the academic day. Schools with bans have noted that they must do this because they are being used at inappropriate times and causing safety concerns. The reality is that if these gadgets are used properly within the classroom, many students with different needs would benefit.
Traditionally, fidgets have been used with special needs students for a variety of reasons. Most children who benefit from fidgets have a diagnosis of anxiety, attention disorders, and/or autism. Some children benefit from having a fidget for tactile needs. The sensory input of a certain fidget will help them to stay focused on their learning. Others may use them to get rid of nervous energy that they have due to anxiety.
Most schools which have banned the spinners note that children with an individual education plans (IEP) may still have them. They are simply going to have them available in school and ask for none to be brought from home. While this is great for the children who have identified needs and plans via special educators, it does not address the bigger issue. The fact is that more children can and will benefit from fidgets of all kinds. Sitting in a classroom for hours without movement and the stresses of school negatively impact many. Making sure to have time built into the day for kids to decompress and fidget will be beneficial for most kids in the room.
Classroom teachers, special education teachers, and occupational therapists must work together to come up with fidgets which will work for entire groups. Each room could have a special fidget container that would be available for a specific time or if a child needs it. The container could include spinners, cubes, putty, spring toys, and more. This will also help to take the stigma away for children who need them based on a diagnosis and IEP. Teachers may also want to have a classroom set of spinners and use them in a group activity together. If they are used like this, kids will be less likely to fool around, and the therapeutic effect will be evident. Brainstorm as a school to come up with plans that will work for the children in your individual buildings.