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Designing sensory tools that people need

Fidgets: Designing sensory tools that people need

I stumbled onto the Kaiko Fidgets website and was excited to see a home-grown small business that was meeting a need for adults and teens with sensory needs. I reached out to Joanne Seymon to see if she was keen to have a virtual chat. We exchanged friendly banter over email, confirmed a date and before I knew it, I received a generous package of Kaiko Fidgets at my doorstep to try out. The colourful array of objects of different shapes and sizes beckoned me to have a play – and play I did. So did my family, and our friends! I observed how each person chose a different fidget based on tactile preference, different neurotypes but all keen to explore.

Jo and her son, Kai, are the brains trust behind Kaiko Fidgets. Kaiko Fidgets grew out of Kai’s dissatisfaction in the sensory aids that were already on the market. He felt they were noisy, embarrassing to take into school and just not very cool. So, he set off designing what he thought would be a more attractive alternative.

Kaiko Fidgets started as a two-fidget range, designed by Kai and sold via a stall on a card table at the local arcade. After a surge of interest, they took their product to local craft markets in 2016 and the business ramped up before Covid hit in 2020. By that stage, schools had become a strong client base, purchasing the fidgets for students and teachers.

Jo describes herself as a ‘neurosparkly’ business owner who will often hyperfocus on new ideas.  An Occupational Therapist by vocation, Jo is hands-on supporting the business and helping Kai, who is completing high school.

Today, the Kaiko range provides options for diverse sensory profiles – from cog spinners, (my personal fave), to heavy hand grips, bicycle chains, a spikey range and multi coloured spinning cubes. From acupressure to rolling beads to aids that spin and provide a soft vibration and humming sound. The range targets teens and adults but is suitable for younger ages too.

The design process starts with a simple drawing that is transformed into a prototype and rigorously tested. Obtaining the team’s input is an important part of the design process, so too is taking suggestions and inspiration from their customers. Between Kai, Jo and their customers, they have successfully created products that suit a large range of needs.

Kaiko Fidgets now employs 10 staff, most of whom are neurodivergent, and carers who are supporting their neurospicy family. A majority of the team work part-time or flexible hours.

Kai is hoping to grow the business after he finishes high school. For now, he spends his break times constructing the fidgets and encouraging others with sensory needs to use his cool products with pride.

The Kaiko Fidgets range can be found at

- Natalie Phillips-Mason from Inclusive Change
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