Fidgets: Not Just for Children

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You often hear about and see fidget toys created for children. However, have you ever considered how these devices may also be helpful for adults? Sensory fidget toys for adults are truly “a thing!” If you are old enough, you may remember fiddling with a few coins in your pocket, twirling a pencil in your hand, or clicking a pen. Nowadays, do you find yourself popping the pop socket/phone holder of your phone? Adults have indeed fidgeted with objects in their hands just as much as children. The only difference is that sometimes the fidgets change as you get older.

Why do adults fidget?

You may be curious why using sensory fidget toys are helpful for people. Or you wonder if adults can even use fidget toys. Sensory fidget toys are effective tools to help decrease stress and improve attention, focus and active listening skills. Importantly, the goal of these devices is to help enhance a person’s ability to learn and to self-regulate. For many people, having these small handheld devices to fidget with help them to focus on a conversation, pay attention during a lesson, or follow along when reading.

Regardless of your age, sensory fidgets can be helpful for all people. Whether you do or do not have a sensory challenge. Many fidget toy brands target to people with certain sensory preferences. For example, you might think sensory fidget toys are made just for autistic people. However, this does not mean they are not helpful to many other people. It is important to find what fits your sensory preferences and helps you stay focused, pay attention or follow along.

Infographic describing the 4 main categories of fidgets.

What are the best sensory fidget toys for adults?

Many different sensory fidget toys are created for both children and adults. When choosing a fidget, it is important to consider why you want to use them. For example, some fidgets are specifically for people who are anxious. Or, some are made from of materials to help improve your focus. Regardless of what you are looking for, there are many sensory fidget toys to choose from.

Woman's hand holding a brown focus stone.

Focus stone

An example of a sensory fidget for adults is a stone, or sometimes called a focus stone. Stones, smooth stones and focus stones are great adult fidgets. They fit easily into the palm of your hand. This particular stone in the photo is slightly concave on one side, which makes it inviting to fidget with. It is also unusual in that the other side of the stone isn’t 100% smooth. Most focus-type-stones like this are smooth all the way around. Find a focus stone that is “just right” or inviting and engaging for your hand. Do you like something smooth? Maybe you like something with some contour? Do you like something with a rough side?

This particular stone is made from a mineral called Mookaite. These focus stones are sold at a delightful little shop called Essentially Seaside. Essentially Seaside is operated by Angie Gillcrist, a small business owner in St. Martins, New Brunswick, Canada. You can learn more about their business by checking out their Facebook page.

Woman's hand holding a brown focus stone.
Focus Stone

Wooden fidgets

Another example of a natural fidget toy is wooden fidgets. Typically, these are small, smooth pieces of wood in different shapes. Additionally, these toys may have certain grooves and shapes engraved. Furthermore, this helps you explore your tactile sense in a calming and relaxing way.

For instance, natural fidgets made from materials in the outdoors, like wood and stones, help create a connection to nature. Sometimes touching these fidgets and feeling the natural features can be very calming and therapeutic. For many adults, using fidgets similar to these can bring a sense of nature indoors.

Fidget spinners

One of the most common fidget toys is fidget spinners. These are small handheld devices that allow people to spin a small wheel. Fidget spinners come in a variety of colours and sizes to best fit your sensory needs. Furthermore, fidget spinners are designed to help increase concentration and attention. Additionally, these fidgets tend to be less distracting to others than clicking pens or bouncing your knee. Typically, these gestures are done subconsciously when people are trying to improve their concentration and focus. Therefore, these particular sensory fidgets are very common within workplace and school settings.

Popsockets/Phone holders

Other common fidgets that you may see in your daily life are popsockets or phone holders. These are small circular devices that fit on the back of a phone that can pop out. For many people, playing with these fidgets can be relaxing and distracting from stressors. Furthermore, you can easily have popsockets with you around your everyday life and play with them subtlety.

Sensory fidgets toys for adults and anxiety

One of the most common uses for sensory fidgets is to help adults struggling with anxiety. There are many different ways that fidget toys can help to reduce anxious feelings. For example, the tactile sense of touching different materials can be very calming. Or playing with the fidget can help to be distracting from stress. Therefore, many doctors and dentist offices will have sensory fidgets for patients to use with to reduce anxiety.

There is no “one” fidget toy that will help all adults experiencing anxiety. As you are now aware, there are many different sensory fidget devices available. Furthermore, it is important to note that everyone has different sensory preferences. Therefore, what is relaxing for one person but be irritating and uncomfortable for another. So, you may have to explore a couple of different types of fidgets to find what works best for you and your sensory needs.

Young man playing with fidget spinner.

Ultimately, sensory fidgets are not just for children. Adults can and should enjoy them too. Consider exploring some fidget options highlighted in this blog post to help you feel more relaxed and focused in your everyday life. Special thanks to Angie Gillcrist for her contributions to this blog post.

Interested in learning more about sensory tools? Check out:

Illustration of group of people. Ages ranges from babies to seniors. Some people are in wheelchair or scooter, pushing a baby stroller, have a prostetic limb or wear a hijab. All designed in a blue and orange colour pallet.

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