Things we tried gradually and over the years
So, I would like to share some fidgets, tools and exercises we have tried, successful and unsuccessful, over the years. Please keep in mind, our children -even siblings- are individuals. What works for one may not work for the other, which is why I am also sharing the ones that may not have worked for us – as it may be the one that can help your child.
Throughout Kindergarten through 3rd Grade my son was playing soccer, to help him stay active and have an outlet for the extra energy as well as team building/social skills and actually tire him out some. We went as far as Travel League and spent some times up to 6 days a week on the soccer fields, practice, games, tournaments, goalie training, indoor training, summer camps taking in a foreign coach to stay with us (an extra learning opportunity about other countries, mentalities,foods, …) To no avail, we thought he was lacking confidence, his skills were there but he would hesitate. We tried to give him a little push by encouraging him ‘keep going’, ‘go for the ball’, ‘run faster’, … Nothing. In the after math I began to realize, he was thrown off by something another player did or didn’t do. So he was advanced in understanding the game details, positions and rules and would play out the perfect reaction in his mind. If the person passed to or open to pass to wasn’t reacting that way, it would throw him off and make him hesitate. Sort of like a GPs – “recalculating”. He also, didn’t seem to become a part of the team, he got along okay with everyone, great one on one, but as soon as a third person entered he’d drift off to the side and wouldn’t find his way back into the action.
In 1st Grade, no 504Plan or I.E.P., we started trying a stress ball, as fidgeting with a pencil, accidental dropping on the table or floor etc. was a far too distracting option. My son was embarrassed though as the other children didn’t understand why he needed it and why was he allowed and even given something to play with. Also, we did not want to encourage play and underline tool, only as needed. So, we ended up the teacher had it on her desk or in a drawer and when she was teaching and experiencing my child being unable to follow or fidget, she’d grab the stress ball without interrupting her teaching and without words hand it to him. Which helped tremendously throughout 1st grade but we had also started medication (Concerta).
2nd Grade was a disaster. We started breaking down the workload into smaller sections, he was given time and a half to finish tests or assignments, we installed Velcro under his seat and desk, he received one on one coaching/tutoring with an older student (4th/5th grade) with Flash Cards, we introduced Brain Gym. He tried a balance board for his feet. Outside of school, we tried all kinds of things. Martial Arts – Aikido, a defensive form of martial arts or self-defense, and even though it wasn’t “the” thing for my son, I still highly recommend it. The place we went to is affordable, has an instructor who is also a Montessori teacher in his full-time profession and includes exercises to support self-esteem, self-discipline, self-awareness, body awareness. A question or concern I hear a lot, especially with ADHD children, “he/she already is kind of aggressive and I do not want to make worse”. Self-Defense Sports are based on responding to an attack/situation and not to initiate. They also come with breathing exercises as well as any other sport higher oxygen intake due to physical activity.