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Fidgeting and stimming

If you have ADHD, you may be prone to fidgeting.

This is sometimes also referred to as stimming, or self-stimulation.

This may include things like biting your finger nails, clicking/unclicking a pen over and over again, making repetitive noises, or doodling.

To an outsider, it often looks like you’re distracted or not paying attention. But for someone with ADHD, fidgeting is a focus aid.

It provides a way for you to channel excess energy (mental or physical) so that your brain can pay attention to the one thing it’s supposed to be focused on.

One of the challenges with fidgeting, though, is that it can be distracting to others.

Over the years, I’ve found some types of fidgeting that work for me without distracting other people or making me appear inattentive…

  • Switching from a clicky pen to a “twist pen,” and casually twisting the cap in and out.
  • Push pop fidget tools (I like these mini ones a lot).
  • Doodling in the corners/margins of a notebook.
  • Fidget spinners.
  • Chewing on a toothpick.
  • Rotating a computer dongle in my handle
  • Opening and closing a chip clip.

The biggest hiccup with any of these is when they accidentally fall out of your hands and bounce across the floor.

Depending on your level of comfort, you can even tell folks what you’re doing:

Just a heads up: I’m paying attention. I have ADHD and this helps me focus.

I have the immense privilege of feeling comfortable enough to just say that to people.

But if you can, I find being open about your ADHD actually makes it less of an issue than if you try to pretend you don’t have it.