I'm not autistic, but I suffer from a sensory disorder- and when I receive too much stimulation, I tend to pick at my skin. It hurts, but it's a stim right at my fingertips, pun intended. Do you know any good silent classroom fidgets? Anything easy to hold in your hand during crowded, loud, bright passing periods? Thank you so much!!
Sweet anon (and everyone, actually), you never, never have to explain that you’re not autistic here. Never. This is a space for all neurodivergent folk and people with any disability, illness or condition who might find stimming helpful for whatever reason. (If you think stimming helps you in some way, you count.) You’re all welcome here, all of you, and I’ll answer any questions you have as best I can. If you want to share your background, by all means, but never feel you have to. This is not an autistic-only or autistic-focused space. It’s a stimming space!
I’ll be honest: this is something I struggle with as well. So I’m trying to find replacement stims for when I feel the need to pick, too.
If you want to go for stealth stims, kneadable erasers. (Art supply stores, office supply stores. I got mine from Officeworks, brand name Faber Castel. I’ve also seen Mont Marte ones in dollar shops and scented ones at Daiso.) You don’t have to explain this to anyone and you can pull, stretch, twist and pick it. Like putty but portable. They cost around $3.50 AUD here, so they’re not very expensive, either.
I also have the most amazing case eraser (Officeworks, $2 AUD) which I’ll photograph because I cannot describe it without an image:
[image description: a rounded plastic eraser module in three parts: a clear red plastic brush cover bearing the word “capsule”; a blue plastic base with a pale blue plastic brush attached to the bottom and a rounded raised thumb rest covered with raised dots with a white round eraser attached the top of the base; and a blue plastic cover for the eraser. Text “Milan” is printed on the cover.]
I have no idea if these are still available: I bought one on clearance, realised how fabulous it was, went back, found none. The brush makes a slight noise when you run a finger over it, but the cover feels like a worry stone and I mostly just run a fingertip over the thumb rest. Milan makes a lot of erasers with unusual covers, all of them pretty fidget-friendly, but this one is the best of the best. I wish I had more of them; they’d be in every bag I own.
Lastly, a chenille pencil case is stealth and super stimmy, and you might find poking/pulling at the chenille fronds offer you an alternative to picking.
As for non-stealth stims: squishies, small plushies, most stress balls (the stretchy squish ball, available from Stimtastic online or Lincraft here in Australia, is fabulous), balloon stress balls, a marble loop, a marble maze, a fluffy or tassel keychain, a worry stone or a prickle fidget are all absolutely silent.
The Hairy Tangle makes a very slight rubbery noise when you stretch the fronds. (People not me probably don’t even notice it.) No clicking, unlike any other Tangle I’ve handled. Plus you can pull/pick at the fronds! And it has no rubbery smell! It’s got texture and movement and offers several different ways to stim with it, so if you don’t mind obviously stimming, I’d recommend trying this one. It’s fabulous and I need to remember to use it more than I do.
Play-Doh is pretty quiet. I’ve noticed my putties and slimes tend to bubble and crackle, though (I’ve got some that bubble so much it’s like playing with never-ending bubble wrap) so I wouldn’t use them in a classroom.
Puffer creatures can be quiet, but mine make noise when I pull the fronds, so they’re probably only useful for poking or running your hands through the fronds. A tassel keychain should be better for absolutely-quiet stimming whilst offering something that can be picked and pulled, if you’re looking for a stim that fills that picking need. You can also attach it to a pencil case, so it’ll be fairly stealth as well!
(A simple alternative to this could be an embroidery thread friendship
bracelet, the kind that ties in a knot around your wrist and leaves
dangling threads, like a tassel. @threadytogo makes them in pride and fan themes!)
Other fidgets that might work, and are surely stealth enough, include fidget jewellery items like telephone cord bracelets and snake necklaces, especially if you want some back-up toys to wear in case you’re like me and lose/forget the toy you mean to bring to class. I don’t get quite the hand-holding fidget experience from some of these, though, so I’d probably have them as back-up fidgets.
Standard stim toys like Tangles and puzzles all make some noise, and if you’re like me, that noise makes you feel self-conscious about making noise, even if it actually doesn’t bother anyone else.
If my followers have something in their collections they can attest is silent and suitable for our anon, please add them! I know a super common toy rec is a spinner ring, but I don’t own one myself and can’t confirm how completely silent they are when used gently/slowly. If someone can confirm, I’d be grateful.
I hope this gives you somewhere to begin!