Why Calling Fidgets a 'Trend' and a 'Toy' Can Be Hurtful

Recently, there has been a new “trend” that’s been popping up all over social media. It’s all over my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I wasn’t going to write about it until I heard people talking about them and calling them toys. I’m talking about fidgets.

For people who use fidgets for medical reasons or in relation to their conditions or diagnoses, they are a useful tool we need. In my opinion, calling these tools a toy can make the public discredit how some people really need them. Personally, I need fidgets to be able to accomplish pretty much any task in my life. Even right now as I’m writing this article, I’m fidgeting with putty.

Needing a fidget is not a game for me. It’s not enjoyable. It’s not a fun toy I play with at my desk because I’m bored or because I want to play. I medically need a fidget because if I’m not moving, I will never be able to get anything done.

My fidget is not a toy — it is a tool. I had to go through many doctors and be evaluated for a long time before I was allowed to use a fidget in classrooms. I had to get a medical note, and it had to be written into an IEP before teachers would allow me to use one.

Even when it was in writing, teachers would say, “Do you really feel like you need that? Are you sure?” I believe this might be because fidgets are seen as a toy and not a tool by the public. I believe they thought I just wanted to play with a toy.

This all ties into fidgets being called toys, and being called a “new trend.” The latest one I’ve seen is all about something called an “addictive fidget spinner” and it is sold on a site called addictivefidgettoys.com. The website name itself has the word toy in it. Sure, some people could use it as a toy, but if it is meant to be a toy, I don’t believe it should also be called a fidget.

Another recent fidget it seems like everyone has been talking about is a fidget cube. And again, based on what I’ve read, the description for this often uses the word “addictive.” My fidgets aren’t addictive; they are a therapy tool used to help with self-regulation, anxiety and other things. I don’t want to use fidgets, but I need to use them because I can’t function if I don’t use them. I don’t like the judgmental looks I get from people in stores when I’m shopping and using a fidget. Or the condescending looks from teachers and professors when I tell them that it may look like I’m texting when I’m really just fidgeting with a tool.

I guess what I’m trying to say is no, I do not use a fidget toy — I use a therapy tool. A toy and a tool are two different things. However, now when I use them, people think they’re toys because that’s what companies are describing them as. I don’t use fidget tools because they’re “trendy.” To you, they might look like toys, but to me and so many others, they are a lifeline, and the only thing keeping me from having a complete meltdown.

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Thinkstock image by AndreyAKazakov

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