What do you do when your body needs to fidget but every move you make gets you stared at? Jason Burns, a former Hollywood producer who suffers from ADD, felt that fidget spinners —along with bouncing his knee or clicking a pen—were too distracting to use in everyday life. He needed something to do with his hands that would soothe him without distracting others. And so he set out to invent something that would change the lives of fidgety people everywhere, including many people with autism, Asperger’s, ADD, PTSD, and other disorders.
Burns’s simple designs are made from small metal rings attached to one another with bearings. The tiny structures come in a variety of shapes and colors and are made to be silent, portable, and fairly inconspicuous. Because the design is so basic, it’s also highly affordable and customizable. You can purchase a fidget toy for somewhere between $7 and $15, or you can make your own special fidget toys with a $49 kit.
Burns, who now refers to himself as the Fidget Man, originally designed the toys for his own personal use, but he’s been floored by the number of people who have contacted him since he launched his little start-up company.
“People were emailing us from all over the world with conditions I would never have imagined—autism, Asperger’s, senior citizens with hand tremors, narcolepsy, PTSD…I [was blown away] because I didn’t design it for them. I just made it for myself, to deal with my fidgeting.”
After some air time on Shark Tank won him $50,000 worth of investments and his Fidgetland company took off, Burns began paying it forward by speaking about his fidget gadgets at schools around the country. His goal is to dispel the myth that fidgeting is a bad thing and remind people that there’s no shame in needing to fidget.
“I really struggled in school until I was diagnosed [as a junior at Mercer Island High School],” says Burns. “I thought wasn’t smart and just couldn’t pay attention. To be returning to schools now, it’s something I never thought in a million years, someone would invite me to speak to students.”
Thank you, Mr. Burns, for having the courage to share your story with so many people and for reminding people that they don’t need to feel guilty about their fidgeting—they might just need to find a better outlet for it.
Watch Burns demonstrate his fidget gadgets in the video below.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?