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how to make sensory fidget beads
Sensory beads can REALLY help kids with ASD and ADD to focus!
Kids can be all over the place when they should be doing their school work or homework! Add in some ADD or autism or any other disorder that can effect the attention span and homework time can become so difficult that parents start giving the answers or giving up all together!
Sometimes a teacher will suggest trying sensory belt loop fidget beads and the parents have absolutely NO idea what they are talking about! Keep reading and check out the pictures if you are in this situation! I have found that these are one of the most effective tools for my son. They are very simple and affordable and for many kids they are extremely effective!
These go on a belt loop on the child's NON dominant side (a right handed kid should wear them on the left during writing activities) and the kid's wigglyness is channelled into the beads, allowing them to remain (more) still! They will not suddenly be still and complete their work, but there is usually a significant decrease in their activity level!
Another benefit to these over hand held fidgets is that they are not constantly dropped on the floor enticing the child to leave their seat to crawl under the desk to retrieve it!
You can use simple strands of beads for kids who just need a little help, OR you can make more elaborate "click" or "abacus" bead strands for those who need extra help with the wiggles!
Selecting the beads - Be sure your child will think it is cool!
Beads are available in just about any color and lots of shapes and sizes for very little cost. These fidgets have been so helpful for my son that I have now been making more and more because he likes to coordinate them with his attire! He currently has 22 belt loop bead fidgets!
Pony beads are the best way to start- the are inexpensive, easy to thread and widely available. Fancier ones become an option if you have the right thread or stringing needle later on!
If you can find some shaped like something your child is interested in then I recommend that your first strand contain only one or two ... when the child is new to these giving them the super cool one at the beginning may distract them but it will definitely make it harder for you to impress them next time.
The best string to use is actually a thin elastic (covered so the beads don't stick). If you do not have any, then a thick beading thread would be best. Avoid the thin threads no matter how strong they are as kids with the wiggles tend to wrap the strand around a finger or thumb and press down- if the string is very thin it may cut their fingers.
Start with a simple strand - Just tie a knot in one end of the string and string the beads!
The method for attaching the beads to the belt loop depends upon your child's preference. We have some with loops and he loops them through and for others we use a small cheap D-clamp or we pick up little military clips. He chooses daily- I recommend starting with a cheap d clamp so that you can quickly and easily remove it if your child wants it off and becomes agitated waiting.
The simple strands are just a string with beads on them and a knot at each end with a loop to hang them from. They are more effective if you leave about a beads length worth of string between the last bead and the knot- leaving them wiggle room!
If you see that it may be helping but they still need more - make them a fidget that they can move around and click!
Abacus fidgets or click counters are great for kids who just need a little more of an outlet than is provided by the simple strands.
These fidgets are great because the child can move the beads into a position that they stay in and there is some resistance (providing just a smidge of proprioceptive input!). Their hand just moves the beads around and their eyes and minds are more free to focus on their work because they are not distracted by the beads constantly moving back to a position that they do not find satisfactory!
They are not that hard to make really, check out the pictures below!