The beginning of Happy Hands - Fidgeting isn't straightforward

I'm a researcher by nature. When something interests me I research as much as I can about it. I want to learn everything and anything about it; it becomes a passion of sorts. So when my husband and I first met and shortly after I met his youngest son I knew something wasn't "right" and started researching. He was four and still babbling. Well, when he wasn't singing the theme song to Spongebob which were the only real sentences he'd speak. He spent hours upon hours lining up toy cars or stacking poker chips. He was a very happy kid, except for when he wasn't and then, oh boy.

It took years of advocating for him for us to finally get the multiple diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Autism and by that point I considered myself a well researched parent. So how in the world did I miss the cause of a lot of our home problems; his need to fidget?

I had read all about stimming and not being able to sit still or fidgeting with small objects, but there is so much more. The ways in which my step-son fidgeted wasn't that straightforward and because of that, we missed helping him for far too long. I recently read an article and felt remorse and guilt that I hadn't figured this out sooner. I'm sure I'm not the only parent to feel crappy about how things were handled and I'm sure it won't be the last time. I can only try my best and hope it's enough.

The Clues

When he was little he would chew up cords. Beyond freaked out over the safety issues, there was the frustration (and yes, anger) that my new iPad's cord was now useless. Or my phone was dead with no way to charge it. We would go on house wide sweeps to make sure cords were higher than he could reach, behind or under heavy furniture and would just keep an eagle eye on him putting anything in his mouth. If only we had known.

Then there was the cutting of his hair and the clothes he would be wearing. It started at school when he was young. I blamed the teachers for not watching him enough or giving him enough sensory time (I'm so sorry). Then it continued as he got older after we started online school. I have to admit, at this point it seemed deliberate and it angered me. He would cut his new jeans, his sweatshirt, his bedspread, anything his hands could grab. We banned unsupervised scissors. I still didn't get it.

We've had to keep pencils supervised or away since back when he first started school. He'd poke them through his clothes making holes. He'd chew the erasers off. At school he'd bother the other students with his pencils, poking, tapping, etc. I viewed pencils as the tool of evil. He needed to use them but couldn't handle them respectfully. I hated pencils.

It wasn't his fault! Why didn't I see it after all my research? Everything pointed to his unfulfilled need to fidget. I didn't make the connection. Yes, he'd fidget when he got in trouble, but what kid doesn't? I'd be talking to him about something important and I'd see his fingers rolling his shirt hem or grabbing at his pockets and tell him "Stop playing and pay attention." He was paying attention and I was breaking that focus. I feel horrible for those moments.

The Spark

After all I'd read, I didn't put two and two together until recently. He's 13 now and we finally figured it out. I was searching for something, I don't remember what it was now, but came up on the fidget cube and the description on that page sparked something in my head. That "AH HA!" moment. The way it had described the fidgeting just clicked.

We purchased a few fidgets (hand and chew) and things changed. We realized through all this that his anxiety has been overwhelming and getting in the way of a lot of things in his daily life. Poor guy was only doing what he needed to do and we were taking it away without another outlet. We failed him for years, but at least now can look forward to helping him better from here on. 

That's the reason we chose to create our store with this theme. We didn't know half of these things existed until we figured out the fidgeting issue. And now I'm researching any and all things fidget. "Drew" as he will be known from here on is excited to help by reviewing the things we are putting in our store and giving honest feedback so that others can get perspective from somebody who needs to fidget in multiple ways.

Thank you for reading and stopping by. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments to help make this store better. We appreciate your input.

1 comment

  • My 6 yo son has issues of sticking small things in his ears. It could range from pea gravel, fuzz, lint, tiny styrofoam balls. My favorite to date was today. He comes in from school and tells me a small catipillor was in his ear. They tell me its a sensory issue. And after 5 or 6 ER visits to remove the foreign objects I need suggestions and fast. We have tryed cubes and spinners and they only work when they are near. He does chew.. His OT said his hands need to stay busy. Suggestions for home and school?

    Zandra D

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