After literally DECADES of questing to ‘heal’ my family: myself, my husband, my daughter, my mother, and the list extends to friends as well LOL – I FINALLY realized that we are ALL on a ‘spectrum’ of some sort (autistic or not) and each struggle with issues and learning disorders. In understanding and accepting that, I am finally able to release some anxiety of the responsibility I held onto my entire life – as the Fixer. Can you tell that I am an Adult Child of Divorce and a few other things…? Yes, I am FINALLY digesting the Serenity Prayer!
Ok, now with that said, I can continue onto my regularly scheduled program – MY BLOG POST ON FIDGETS.
In this post, I will be covering a basic but VITAL piece to our sanity and productivity: THE FIDGET! I was shocked to find that I had not mentioned this before! I apologize greatly, and hope this post sheds some light on the topic. Feel free to send me any questions.
What is a Fidget?
Originally, fidget is a state of “uneasiness or restlessness as shown by nervous movements —usually used in plural” [according to Merriam-Webster]. These movements are an instinctive and defensive emergency system that our bodies implement in order to calm us down. We all fidget in various situations for different and personal reasons. What do you do when you fidget? Tap your fingers or feet? Fumble with a pen between your fingers? Nibble your lip? Play with your hair? Hum a specific tune? Many times we don’t even realize we are doing it, unless someone points it out.
Well, when you happen to be blessed with Aspergers or CAPD (like my husband and daughter), then you tend to be more sensitive to external stimuli/input and will be more nervous all throughout the day then other folks. You can be nervous every time the phone rings. Or when someone randomly calls your name in a public place, and you are not prepared to see anyone. Or a piece of clothing does not feel ‘right’. Basically, ANY TIME your routine is interrupted in any way – anxiety can flair up.
Unfortunately, life is pretty fluid, so keeping a fully intact and guarded ‘uninterrupted routine’ is virtually impossible. Maintaining that level of consistency is exhausting for the caregiver. Anxiety and nervousness can lead to stress, which can lead to all kinds of debilitating and unhealthy behavior.
In an effort to guide my daughter towards independence and self-reliance, I have vigilantly and constantly ensured that she had ample physical tools in her vicinity at all times. As an infant, it was her binky, or pacifier. As she grew older and was able to communicate better, we were able to find other items that helped to calm her in stressful situations. As you can imagine, figuring out all her potential triggers were mind-numbing – so it was much easier to just find items that she could reach and hold or use to self-soothe.
Those items that help to reduce ‘fidgeting’ have become known as fidgets. Ask any therapist and they can instantly name several different types. You can even google and find tons on Amazon or specialized companies that only feature fidget items.
My 5th grade, 11-year old daughter, gets bored very easily which means that her fidget bucket needs to be updated every few months or so. She always knows where it is located and is responsible for selecting her item of choice during the day.
What do we require in a fidget? We have narrowed down items that work for our needs.
- Soft, without pointy or sharp edges
- Handled manually or by feet – without sight
- Without string that gets tangled
- Silent, to not distract
Originally, this Plastic Wobble Board is used for physical/therapeutic purposes to help improve balance and coordination, while also strengthening muscles. In addition to using this balance board for building stronger ankles, knees, legs, lower body and core, is it a perfect Foot Fidget while sitting at the table.
These soft, stretchy, squeezable, smooshable and colorful ‘balls’ are great for tactile stress relief. They can easily collect fur and hair, so we carefully keep them off the ground and stored in ziplock bags or containers (“Fidget Bucket”).
This simple Bean Bag can be used with one or both hands. She can pass this single bag between hands as well.
One of our newest members is the Oogi. It has a suction cup head, hands and feet, and long stretchy arms, and connects to any smooth surface. Ours is still exploring the house, but it can be spotted playing in the bathtub, on fridges or mirrors. Oogis are made from high-quality, food-grade silicone rubber and are safe, durable and easy to clean.
This Koosh band works great as a bracelet. She can feel the sensation on her wrist, or even stretch and snap some of the tentacles.
Bonus: Yoga Ball
We use our Yoga Ball more for other things, than for traditional Yoga:
- chair/seat alternative
- bouncing in place
- ‘superman’ plank
- backward bridge/bend relax/stretch
- balance the ball on feet in the air (while laying on the back)