I want to thank those of you who forwarded this link on to me because this is a simply outstanding idea! This glorious invention is the Fidget Cube, and right now, there's a kickstarter funding program in place for its development.
Using fidgeting to channel nervous or "stim" impulses is nothing new in the autism community. My son was always given a Koosh ball to hold during storytime in school, and it made a huge difference for him. He was much more able to focus on the work at hand when all that nervous energy had someplace to go.
I was surprised the first time his therapist told me about this (it seemed counter-productive to me - the lesson here was about sitting still and paying attention, not playing with toys) but I couldn't deny that it worked. There have even been studies about the use of stress balls being beneficial in a school setting for children who fidget.
I want this thing! And not just for my son - I know a half dozen people who aren't on the spectrum that would love this! You can bet I'll be keeping my eye on their progress with this!
Check out their video to get the whole scoop on this awesome invention: