How to Choose a Toy for a Child with ADHD

Anyone who has ever been around anyone with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) knows that the world is their oyster, and they are most likely banging that sucker on the table trying to get it open. ADHD affects nearly nine percent of children and just over two percent of adults. It is classified as a mental disorder mainly affecting children, although it can affect adults. It often does, choosing to rear its ugly head at staff meetings, conferences for work, and any event they were forced to attend by their significant other. 

ADHD is not one of those disorders that hide behind a fancy acronym; it is exactly what it says it is: inability to focus or pay attention, impulsive actions that are often inappropriate for the environment, and/or a combination of both. So, when shopping for a toy for a child with ADHD, are there specific requirements that make one toy better than another? It truly depends on the child, but Kando Wellness has a few points for you to consider with buying a toy for a child with ADHD: 

  • Easy to carry and pack
  • Engages the child on several levels
  • Provides tactile stimulation
  • Holds the child’s attention

Easy to Carry and Pack

You know them when you see them; a look of stern determination, more than a few drops of sweat, and luggage hanging from every possible limb. Parents often overdo it when approaching a situation where there might be a slight chance their ADHD child could experience a flare-up. In all honesty, less is more for the ADHD child and is a blessing for the ADHD parent or caregiver who is forced to play the bellboy for their child. 

 So, here are a few suggestions for toys that will keep the ADHD child busy, but won’t break backs and arms when traveling:

  • Play-Dough or other squishy, morphing substances
  • A stress ball or a squishy toy – you can even buy scented squishy toys
  • Tangle toys – these are curved links that can be manipulated and moved but don’t break apart

Engages the Child on Several Levels

The ADHD child is complex. You bring markers and a coloring book, and you’re good for maybe five minutes, mainly because coloring is one motion, and there are black lines and boundaries in the child’s mind.

Hands-on, and mind at work are the two mantras for toys that appeal to the ADHD child. They don’t need bling or noise; they need variety and open imaginary space. Toys that engage the ADHD child on several levels including:

  • Brain Flakes – these fun little plastic flakes are great for tactile and imaginative play
  • Legos – the old stand-by provides stimulation to the hands with the little nubs on them and opens the mind to creativity and imagination
  • Minecraft – yes, it’s a video game, but it is engaging and encourages problem-solving, plus it can be downloaded to a phone or tablet, making it an easy take-along. 

Provides Tactile Stimulation

Here is where we will head off the beaten path and provide you with a little bit of information we have learned from observing some of the best educators in the nation. These folks make adjustments on the fly, curb distraction, and calm and soothe like it is second nature; in reality, it is because it has to be. So, here is a list of tips from the people who are on the front lines every day with our ADHD children and how they help provide them with learning environment-appropriate “toys” that appeal to tactile disintegrations:

  • Pipe cleaners are safe, reusable, and cheap. Show the child how to wrap around fingers and pull off in a fun spiral, then straighten and do it again. 
  • If you have a drummer who needs to drum, cut up an old mouse pad as their “drum pad” so that the noise doesn’t distract other students. 
  • If you have a foot shaker, create a special desk for them. Take elastic and wrap it as a boundary around the bottom of the desk and purchase a plastic ball. The elastic will keep the ball from rolling around the classroom, and their feet will be occupied and happy, helping them focus on learning.  

Holds the Child’s Attention

Isn’t this always the battle, though? How do you know, with an ADHD child, what will hold their attention? We haven’t broached the subject of fidget toys, but here we go. There are a million different kinds of fidget toys, but we have to say we are partial to the Moov Mini, and here is why: it is easy and it is affordable and it ticks off every box that we have mentioned above. Colorful, easy to pack, tactile, mindless when necessary, and imaginative stimulation. The quietest rocket on earth, and the best miniature frisbee ever, the Moov Mini is the perfect toy for the ADHD child… and adult.     

In Conclusion

In reality, it is a crap-shoot. What works for one child won’t work for another. What works once won’t work again. But the point is that we keep trying until we find something that works, even if just for a little while.