Those opinions are all well and good, but what does the research say? Therein lies the problem. Fidget spinners are so newfangled that science hasn't had a chance to catch up with them yet. For many doctors, this lack of hard scientific evidence is an indication that the toys shouldn't be marketed as therapeutically beneficial in any concrete way.
"Value is determined by serious research such as double-blind studies with clinical trials," says Dr. Dilip Karnik, pediatric neurologist at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin. "Thus far, there has been no research presented to support the claim that fidget spinners are therapeutic for those with ADHD. At this time, I would not recommend them as a therapeutic choice."
Clinical psychologist Dr. John Mayer is also not impressed, and worries about the ongoing impact of fidget spinners on kids, to boot. "First, even if they have some therapeutic benefit a diversion device like this takes the person away from developing 'compensation techniques' that are necessary for the long-term control of their condition and better functioning," he explains in an email. "Second, by allowing spinners in the classroom and other settings such as activities, clubs, church, what effect do these have on the remainder of the kids? Third, in that same respect, these spinners have disastrous effects on classroom discipline and order."
Rather than focusing on fun handheld toys, Mayer suggests parents instead work with their kids to build lifelong skills that can help them build and maintain focus, like learning drills, better note-taking techniques and memorization aides. Karnik also recommends using occupational therapy techniques, dietary management and yoga to improve attention issues.
Clinical psychologist John Garrison notes that hyperactivity associated with ADHD tends to lessen with age, but adults with ADHD could also find a benefit with using a fidget spinner because of the sensory input. "There is a faint hum as it spins, the visual stimulation of spinning, and the satisfaction and reward of touching the fidget spinner," he says. These benefits may explain why even people without ADHD find them so pleasurable.