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How Spinners Can Help But Also Hinder Neurodiversity

I’m sure that by now, most people have seen these spinners. They’re everywhere and everybody seems to have at least one. I really don’t want to get into an argument here, but many people seem to be all on one side or the other. I think the spinners could be a good thing, but we need to watch what is going on with spinners and be aware of who has them and what they think about them.

Honestly, I’m really glad they are getting normalized, because then it’s easier to get fidgets when you need them without having to go through all these hoops and self-doubt. We have to, however, make sure it isn’t overdone. I’ve seen it compared to silly bands and tamagotchis and other fad toys that were super popular then got abandoned. Some of them have gotten banned from places because of kids being jealous of other people’s stuff and because of them being a distraction. Inevitably fad toys fall out of a popularity as well and when they aren’t “cool” anymore people will once again be made fun of for having and using them.

These “Fad Toys” Are Even More Likely To Get Banned.

Already, a few weeks into their popularity, spinners are being banned in schools. Banning fidget toys because they are “distracting” is devastating for undiagnosed neurodivergent kids. While you Might be able to add fidget toys to an accommodations letter, that requires a lot of work and a diagnosis.

On the other hand, we need to make sure they are being normalized correctly, that people understand the true purpose of these spinners and other fidget toys. Just making it normal to have a spinner doesn’t help those of us that chew, flap, rock, or spin. Most nt people have a spinner but don’t know why they even exist. They think it’s just to look cool.

Don’t get me wrong, fidget toys Do look cool, however, we need to talk about the real reasons why some people Have To fidget. Stimming is necessary for autistic people and people with ADHD, and anxiety, and many other ND things. Stimming helps to regulate sensory input, to concentrate, and sometimes can be just for fun. We need to make sure that when we normalize spinners, we normalize not just other fidget toys too, but other ways of stimming. We can’t have kids showing off their new spinner toys then making fun of the kids that rock and flap and chew and stim in other ways.

The kids that are racing to collect and show off the coolest fidget spinners are often the same kids that make fun of disabled classmates, using autistic as an insult and bullying other children for being different. We need to teach children that fidget spinners and other fidgets are tools to help neurodivergent people concentrate and deal with their surroundings. Taking five or ten minutes to truly teach children the actual purpose will certainly help. We need to teach kids about respecting differences and that the kid that rocks in class, chews on their shirt at recess, or flaps their hands during music class is doing the same thing that they are when the bounce their leg or spin a spinner, just maybe a tad more noticeable. By sitting down your kids and explaining what stimming is, that all stimming should be respected, and there is no “right way” to stim, it should help erase the stigma surrounding stimming.

We want ALL stimming to be normalized and accepted, not just the pretty stuff. And certainly not because abled people have decided it is “cool.” So please, let kids have their fun with the spinner fidgets, but make sure they know why they were made in the first place.

Further Reading:

  1. http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/2017/05/what-fidget-spinners-fad-reveals-about.html?m=1
  2. https://prolifeproliberty.tumblr.com/post/160619894022/fidget-tools-in-schools
  3. http://autisticbird.tumblr.com/post/161116593283/okay-so-i-might-be-a-little-late-with-this-but
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2 thoughts on “Fidget Spinners and Normalizing Stimming

    1. The thing is though, the spinners Can be used discreetly. They just aren’t because everybody does not understand stimming. Personally, the fidget spinner so don’t give me the kind of sensory input I need for my own stimming, but I have some friends who it is their go-to fidget. The tricks and showing off are definitely disturbing to others, but I don’t want fidgets to be banned that are useful to others.

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