‘Fidget spinners’ spiral into Dayton area classrooms

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

'Fidget spinners' making appearance in Dayton-area classrooms

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Fidget spinners — the latest gadget capturing the attention of school kids — burst onto the scene in area classrooms in recent weeks to mixed reviews from teachers.

Designed to be held and spun between two fingers, the gadgets are advertised as toys capable of increasing focus, revealing stress and aiding students with ADHD, autism and anxiety.

Nationally, the three-pronged spinners on a ball bearing are rued by educators as a distracting device, prompting school districts from Indiana to Florida to ban them.

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But local educators concede the toys may have some educational benefit.

“In the classroom they can be very helpful,” said Judi MacLeod, director of special education at Chaminade Julienne High School in Dayton, where spinners are not banned.

MacLeod said students — and many people generally — can have nervous habits far more annoying than spinning a small device.

“The nice thing with the little gadgets and the little fidgets is they don’t make noise, where a clicker pen makes noise that’s distracting,” MacLeod said.

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Still, MacLeod said the key is making sure children aren’t distracting the remainder of the class while clicking.

Sean Gideon, a Chaminade Julienne freshman, uses the fidget spinners in class.

“It makes me feel good,” Gideon said. “It’s just kind of satisfying just to look at it.”

Leah Wasburn-Moses, a professor of educational psychology at Miami University, recently bought one online to show her students, who are future special education teachers.

She said fidgets have been used for a long time for students with special needs to meet certain sensory needs, but they’re now being used by the general population.

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“It’s been very popular for many years for students with ADHD and other attention issues, but now we’re thinking about the general population and focusing on work and dealing effectively with anxiety and autism and a number of conditions,” she said.

“Like most things, there are positives and negatives,” she said. “The positives are I’m looking at individual supports to help students or people in general become successful with school or work. I think the negatives are they can also distract from the goals of schools or work.”

Beavercreek City Schools officials said they recognize students learn differently and respect individual student needs. Administrators at Centerville City Schools said principals are dealing with spinners on a case-by-case basis, but noted spinners there are not widespread.

Springboro Community City Schools teachers have had some problems with kids becoming distracted in class, but the district does not intend to ban the spinners, said Neej Mescher, district communications coordinator.

“As a district, we’re not going to be banning them,” she said. “We understand they’re useful for some students.”

The devices cost between $1 to several hundred dollars depending on quality and materials and are available for purchase on Amazon.com.

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