I remember the “must-have toys” back in my day were the hula hoop, mood rings, and the slinky, to name a few. I remember the cabbage patch doll rage when my nieces and nephew were in school. Then, there is the Pokemon phase which as far as I know hasn’t faded yet.
It seems a new toy fad has appeared. Amazingly, with all the super-tech toys on the store shelves, the new “must-have” toy is a simple one. All it can do is “spin”. Beats me as to why a spinning toy has spun so many fans.
It is so popular it has its own Wikipedia page. According to the page, the spinner is a type of stress-relieving toy. A basic fidget spinner consists of a bearing in the center of a design made from any of a variety of materials including brass, stainless steel, titanium, copper, and plastic. It has been advertised as helping people who have trouble with focusing or fidgeting (such as those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, or Anxiety Disorder) by acting as a release mechanism for nervous energy or psychological stress. Experts were divided on this claim, with some supporting it while others disputed its scientific basis and argued the toy may actually be more distracting.
It can be debated as to whether it lives up to its stress-relieving application, but there’s no doubt the spinner is an eyesore to school staff. I work in that environment as a substitute teacher’s aide. Teachers don’t mind their students having such, but do object to having to compete with a spinner for their attention.
I am a member of two groups it is advertised as supposedly aiming to help. I have both Autism and Anxiety Disorder. I first bought a fidget cube, the spinner’s cousin, to see if the cube would help me with focusing and fidgeting. Since it cost me more to have it mailed than its price, it was a small investment. I was delighted the cube lived up to its billing. I fidget away with it while at home. I keep the cube in my pocket at work and fidget as needed. Since it is easy to hide, I can fidget away with no one catching me in the act.
It is a common Autism trait to be more attached to things instead of people. Well, I have become attached to my cube like I am attached to my favorite pillow and faded jeans. After becoming attached to the cube, I had the urge to purchase a spinner too. I reckon “fidget toys” is a new one to add to my list of obsessive interests.
As of this writing, I have had a spinner for two weeks. It has earned a place on my list of favorite things. I take it with when I go walking at the park, or fidget with it while I am jogging in place in my room or while staring at my computer screen with a case of writer’s block.
As far as the cube and spinner being distractions, that’s not a problem for me. My Autism strength is being routine-oriented. There isn’t a toy invented that will distract me from my chores or get in the way of following my daily routine. I’m a “work first, play later” person.
In conclusion, I’m a fidget spinner fan. It’s only because I have an uncontrollable need to fidget that I bought it. The spinner isn’t for everybody. I showed my spinner to a handful of students I work with who are on the spectrum and judging from their reactions, they gave it a thumbs down. Some find it an annoyance or a distraction, but it is a soothing treasure for me.