A lot of you that follow my blog (thanks by the way) know that I have ADHD It’s something that I’ve struggled with all my life. It was problematic most of my school career until my mother started teaching me little tricks to help me. In her quirky lessons, she ultimately helped me manage to “let this thing work for you and not against you.”
One of the biggest things my mom used to teach me was how to activate my hyper focusing ability at will…like a superhero. Most people assume that a person with ADHD has the inability to pay attention all the time, when in fact, we also possess the inconvenient ability to focus too much at the wrong times. Knowing this, my mother used to purposely distract me during certain activities to teach me how to ignore the distraction. “Every environment isn’t going to be silent,” she’d say to me. Her distractions would range from drumming her hands on the table, all the way to playing full Broadway musical productions on the piano in the living room (and she was an incredible pianist). Most of these moments were timed, so that not only did I have to focus on my homework, or doing the dishes, I had to finish it in the allotted amount of time.
I got so good at hyper focusing at will that when I told a group of professors at my BA oral defense that I had ADHD and because of this I chose a project that used theatre to aid kids like me to learn certain things, they didn’t believe me.
“Do you really?” one of them snorted looking over the brim of their glasses. “If you have it, why haven’t you seemed distracted now?”
“Because I’m at my oral defense and it’s rude not to pay attention,” I retorted. I then proceeded to tell them I was very aware of the kid playing basketball outside the room, that the air conditioner that had just come on was dripping, and that one of the audience attendees had just popped their gum.
My mother’s technique was so effective that even now when I have deadlines for scripts, books, or blog posts, I create “counter noise” or “white noise,” in order to get it done faster. If I have to listen to something or someone intently, I’ll silently flick a pen top, or rotate a pencil in my hand, or in some empty handed situations, tap my fingers to my thumb in a rapid pattern. These techniques I learned at a young age and refined over the years. Had I not published this, some of you that know me well would never know. (Don’t stare at my hands now, though. That’s just weird. Don’t be weird)
I said all that to say….
Stop 👏🏾 buying 👏🏾 your 👏🏾 kids👏🏾 these👏🏾 fidget👏🏾 spinners!
You are introducing them to a technique they haven’t mastered yet, thereby causing a terrible classroom situation for their teacher. The art of distracting yourself in order to focus involves a menial, repetitive task (or an ongoing pattern) that’s easy to ignore. Fidget spinners given to a person that hasn’t achieved the proper dexterity or hand-eye coordination is about as helpful as giving a kid a yo-yo to play with in class. It’s not a good idea.
Now, before I start getting angry letters…or cease and desist ones, let me clarify; when given to the right person, the device is very effective. But unless your kid has already mastered the art of not paying attention to pay attention (and it is an art), you’re wasting your money.
Pump the brakes on these quick fixes and really study how your kid learns and what they need. Really sit down with them and figure out what type of attention deficit they have and what it feels like to them. Observe what catches their attention, and what keeps them from paying attention. I think you’d be surprised at what you’d find out.
Trust me, I’m right!