FIDGET SPINNERS AND AUTISM

5 Jun

FIDGET SPINNERS AND AUTISM: A PEDIATRICIAN’S OPINION

Excerpts from a comment by Dr. Alok Patel, MD, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a critical care pediatrician at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian in New York City. Published in Medscape, June 5, 2017,

When I talk to parents of autistic children about these colorful little devices in the inpatient setting, they all report very interesting uses for them. They are aware of the safety risk and they use the toy primarily as a way to bond with their children. One father used it as a way to reward his daughter for taking her medications on time or completing certain tasks. Another mom was laughing and said that she and her daughter put them on a table, spin them, and race. They see whose spinner outlasts the other one. As long as they know exactly what they’re getting themselves into, I say do your thing.

In the end, what I tell parents is that the device is not a replacement for evidence-based occupational or behavioral therapy. Even though they are really cool and flashy, there are hidden safety risks. Those bearings are not delicious little donuts; they can get lodged in a child’s throat. Parents need to be smart about these just as with any other toy.

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