9 Types of Toys That Are Good for ADHD

kid with fidget spinner doing homework

Maskot / Getty Images

Whether adult or child, common traits of someone diagnosed with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) include an inability to focus, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

Sensory toys—which are gaining momentum both in and out of the mental health sphere—are an effective way to channel some of those behaviors.

These toys can have calming or grounding effects by giving hands something to do and funneling wayward attention and fidgeting onto a physical, non-elaborate task. They can also help minimize feelings of boredom. Read on for nine types of toys that are good for ADHD.

1

Fidget Spinners

Fidget spinners are small toys that come in a variety of hues and silhouettes. They’re meant to be held at one point with the thumb and middle finger and then spun with other fingers. This can elicit a mesmerizing flash of colors and a low, steady hum that’s quite satisfying. 

Using fidget spinners and other toys can be helpful in terms of harnessing focus and nervous energy. At the same time, research says that using fidget toys thoughtfully is important. For instance, allowing them in a classroom can potentially detract from optimal student performance.

2

Rubik’s Cube

With its bright colors and perfectly hand-sized design, the classic Rubik’s Cube is an excellent toy for ADHD. This 3D toy incorporates physical sensation with visual appeal and problem-solving, which can help improve concentration and focusing skills. 

The standard Rubik’s Cube—which was designed by Hungarian professor and sculptor Ernő Rubik—features six colors/sides with nine squares on each side. Depending on skill level, you can choose variations of the Rubik’s Cubes that are more complex or simple.

3

Tangle Toys

Tangle toys are reminiscent of Rubik’s Cubes in the sense that you flip, twist, and rotate the pieces without ever breaking them apart. Much simpler in design, they’re an ideal toy for younger children who’ve been diagnosed with ADHD. In addition to being physically engaging, tangle toys are also visually stimulating in terms of color and morphing shape.

4

Shape-Shifting Boxes

Shape-shifting puzzle boxes provide calming, therapeutic effects that can help people feel calmer, more grounded, and better focused. They’re essentially magnetic puzzle boxes that you can manipulate and transform into various geometric shapes. Some include sensory features and visually-striking designs for additional stimulation. 

5

Stress Ball

Stress balls are one of the more well-known anxiety-reducing toys on the market. Available in a spectrum of sizes and densities, they’re meant to be squeezed in your hand. Contracting and releasing muscles in the wrists and hands can potentially have a grounding, anti-fidgeting effect. However, research shows that, despite their name, stress balls likely do not reduce physiological symptoms of stress or anxiety.

6

Magnet Balls

Magnet balls aren’t quite the same as stress balls, and are actually more like shape shifting box puzzles in the sense that you can manipulate the shape and design according to your whim. Magnet balls are a series of small, magnetic balls that adhere to each other via magnetic force. The user simply rotates and pulls the balls to create their own design, which can promote focus and reduce nervous energy. 

7

Putty or Play Dough

Playing with putty, “slime,” or play dough is a favorite pastime among children whether they’ve been diagnosed with ADHD or not. These toys can be especially beneficial for those with a diagnosis, however, thanks to the unique sensory feel and harnessing of creativity and focus. A 2019 study found that ADHD students may particularly benefit from “therapy putty” usage with listening tasks.

8

Liquid Motion Sandscape

Liquid motion sandscapes are visually-stimulating, interactive art pieces that sort of look like sand dune vistas. They’re meant to be rotated and flipped, which sends the sand inside into mesmerizing motion and ultimately yields a brand new design. Perfect for an office desk or bedside table, you can choose from a variety of color scapes and sizes.

9

Fidget Bubble Poppers

This fidget toy is perhaps one of the simplest designs on this list. Typically made from soft silicone, it features a tray of flexible “bubbles” that you press with your fingers. Once all the bubbles have been pressed, it’s flipped over and you can press the bubbles again. It’s an excellent way to calm busy hands and minimize nervous energy so you can focus or listen more attentively. 

A Word From Verywell

Toys can serve as an effective tool for people diagnosed with ADHD and anyone else who wants to improve focus, reduce boredom, and mitigate hyperactivity. To get the most out of the toys listed above, use them in a way that doesn't detract from the task at hand but rather helps with concentration.

Was this page helpful?
3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hulac, DM, Aspiranti K, Kriescher S, Briesch AM, Athanasiou M. A Multisite Study of the Effect of Fidget Spinners on Academic Performance. Contemporary School Psychology. 2020.

  2. Effectiveness of Stress Balls in Reducing the Physiological Symptoms of Stress. 2015.

  3. Shah J, Milanaik R, Das P, Sidhu S, Zhu M, Schecter R. Effects of Therapy Putty Usage on Academic Performance and Perceived Attention to Task in Students with ADHD. American Academy of Pediatrics. 2019.