Thursday, June 30, 2011

The best fidget toys ever : Tangle Jr. and Tangle Therapy

I first came across this toy when I went to a friend's place. She works with autistic kids and it works wonders to calm them down. So I started playing with hers when I was at her place and I just couldn't put it down. I loved it so much that when I came back home, I ordered 5 of them! I think I am going to develop a tangle addiction and obsession... I feel like ordering a ton more.

Tangle toys as we know them today have been invented by Richard X. Zawitz in 1982. It started as being a twistable, curvy stainless steel sculpture based on the Tibetan infinite knot : The Statue of Infinity.

What the original tangle looked like.

He quickly realized how twisting, turning and reshaping the thing was downright addictive. People who went to his studio were drawn to this intriguing twisty thing and as soon as they started playing with it, they couldn't put it down. So Richard started making smaller versions of to give to the people he knew. The toy quickly gained in popularity and he ended up finding a plastic shop in Asia that could mass produce them at an affordable price. The tangle toy was born.

Tangle Jr. Sparkle

Tangle toys have multiple therapeutic advantages :
  • Stress relievers
  • Smoking cessation aid
  • Hand muscles and joints rehabilitation
  • Fine motor skills development

The most wonderful however is that tangle toys have been reported as being great learning aids for normal people and people with special needs alike.

It is believed that ADHD is caused by an under-aroused brain. Moving, fidgeting and making noises is the way people with ADHD "wake up" their brain to be more attentive and able to focus. The more taxing a mental task is, the most they need stimulation. This is where Tangle toys come in handy : Because of their vivid colors, their infinite movement and how much they involve the hands, they are very very stimulating for the sensory system. Plus, since they are silent, so they can be brought anywhere and fidgeted with anywhere without bothering anyone. They are perfect fidget tools.

I can find myself raising above my head, wrapping around my hands, spinning, shaking, shifting through my fingers, twisting, turning, my megaTangle Jr. (a super long tangle I made of 4 Tangle Jr.) often in a very energetic way. I have found that the stiffer they are the more stimulating they are. That's because of the "cracking" that can be heard and felt when some stiffer parts unstuck and turn. It provides additional sensory input which my brain appreciates a lot. The transparent parts are the ones that cause the stiffness due to the nature of the plastic. So if you are looking of a stiffer Tangle, order the ones that is translucent (like the image above).

Where to get them?
You can find them in many stores with toys for special needs. It also depends on which one(s) you want. There are many kinds of Tangles ; You can find them in all colors, textures, materials and the official website even mentions a scented tangle (!) but I can't find it anywhere. (:( )

The official websites lists many Tangles, but there are some models, probably because they are older, that are only available from reseller stores.

Tangle Jr. textured

Tangle Therapy

Tangle Super Size

If you google any of the above, you will be able to find many stores selling them. I personally bought mine from SanAndCoToys because they carried these :

Tangle Jr. Textured

Another store that carries Tangles that are no longer available on the official website is OfficePlayground :

Tangle Jr. Hairy

Tangle Jr. Translucent

Tangle Jr. Fuzzies

To conclude, you have to know that if you wish to order from the official website, you have to email them to ask them for US Postal First Class Mail shipping. Otherwise, you will have to pay a lot more. Here is their catalogue, you can find some things there that aren't listed on the website. :)


  1. I've heard worse English, so you're fine :p

  2. I love tangles. I too have made super-tangle out of four Tangle Jrs. they're so much fun

  3. I like this forum, very interesting.

    I love Tangles too. I made a big super size one using the Fuzzy version, a Hairy version and some normal small ones.

    founds loads

  4. That shop is ridiculously overpriced.

  5. Wow!nice article and containing allot of information about the Fidget Toys well done.

    Fidget Toys