Benefits of Twiddle Muffs to People with Dementia and Autism

People who have dementia and autism need extra care from their loved ones or caregivers because these conditions are serious and need lots of attention. Dementia patients are sometimes aggressive, always wandering, and may experience hallucinations at times. People with autism, on the other hand, usually experience sensory overload, anxiety, and mood changes. With this, one of the most important things to provide to individuals who have dementia and autism is something interesting that will keep their minds calm and their hands busy.

There are many things that can be done to keep dementia and autism patients still, and one of those is through the use of twiddle muffs. These are sensory therapy tools that are made to keep the restless hands of people who have dementia occupied, warm, and calm. They are commonly used to help people reduce anxiety through sensory stimulation. 

Is it your first time hearing about twiddle muffs? If it is, and you are interested to learn more about them, we are here to help. In this article, we are going to provide you with the benefits of twiddle muffs for people with dementia and autism. 

Twiddle Muffs Definition and Origin

Twiddle muffs pertain to hand-knitted or crocheted muffs, which are made specifically for individuals who are suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of memory issues or cognitive impairment. These tools are made to provide a tactile and sensory experience for the individual using them and also a sense of comfort and security. 

These muffs are commonly made with soft and warm materials, such as fleece or wool. They are mostly adorned with different textures and small items, including buttons, beads, ribbons, and more. The goal of the textures on a twiddle muff is to provide a sensory experience for the individual using it, and the small items attached to it aim to keep the hands of the patient occupied. 

There are varieties of settings where twiddle muffs can be used, such as at home, in care homes, and in hospitals. Aside from people who have dementia, individuals who have autism or those who need sensory stimulation may also use twiddle muffs. 

You might also be wondering where twiddle muffs came from or how their use started. The origins of twiddle muffs are actually not well-documented. However, it is believed that twiddle muffs were first utilized in the early 2000s in the United Kingdom as a way to give comfort and stimulation to individuals suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Primarily, they were used in care homes and hospitals in order to keep the hands of the patients busy. Doing this was also thought to reduce anxiety and agitation.

Later on, the use of twiddle muffs expanded to patients who have a cognitive impairment, like those with developmental delays or autism. They started to be used in other settings, such as in schools and hospitals. Aside from providing comfort and stimulation to patients, twiddle muffs also have been utilized as a form of occupational therapy because the different textures and objects it has may help improve hand coordination and dexterity. 

The use of twiddle muffs has become more popular in recent years. Today, they can be found in different colors, designs, and patterns. Many individuals and organizations are making twiddle muffs at the present time as part of craft projects and charity programs. It began as a tool to provide comfort and stimulation to dementia patients, but it is now widely used by a range of populations and is available in varieties of designs. 

The Benefits of Twiddle Muffs to People with Dementia

senior woman suffering from memory loss

After learning about what twiddle muffs are and their origins, let us now learn about the benefits that these tools can provide to patients who are suffering from memory loss. 

Dementia is a common health condition among the elderly. According to The Guardian, in 2016, there were 47.5 million people who are living with dementia, and each year, there are 7.7 million new cases.[1] When this condition progresses, patients are less able to interpret, process, and adapt to both psychosocial and environmental stimuli.  When this happens, people who have dementia may experience an increase in levels of stress, which may lead to agitation, anxiety, or aggression, which are known as the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. 

With that, providing sensory stimulation for people with dementia can be hugely beneficial, as it may help improve mood and encourage positive behaviors that may lead to achieving or maintaining a state of well-being and bringing a kind of relaxation. And one of the popular ways to do that is by giving them twiddle muffs. 

The Benefits of Twiddle Muffs to People with Dementia

Below are the other benefits that twiddle muffs may provide to people suffering from dementia:

Sensory Stimulation

Twiddle muffs, as mentioned earlier, feature different textures and items that are attached to them. These features may provide tactile stimulation among individuals with dementia. The tactile stimulation that twiddle muffs provide may help improve the patients’ concentration and focus.

Agitation and Anxiety Reduction

Twiddle muffs are made from soft materials and various textures. When people with dementia hold them, they may feel comfortable, which may help reduce their anxiety and agitation. 

Fine Motor Skills Improvement

Twiddle muffs are also sometimes categorized as sensory toys. It’s because they are like toys that feature various activities such as buttons, ribbons, textures, and more. These features may help dementia patients improve their fine motor skills. 


We have also mentioned earlier that it is important for dementia patients to feel relaxed and calm. The soft and warm material that twiddle muffs feature, combined with their calming and comforting sensory elements, may help promote relaxation among individuals who are suffering from dementia. 

Keep Hands Busy

Twiddle muffs also provide physical activity to dementia patients. It is known that dementia patients tend to show their anxiety or agitation through fidgety hands. Some of the signs include rubbing hands together, twisting fingers, wringing hands, and pulling or rubbing at clothes or bedding. All of these actions can be prevented through the use of twiddle muffs. These sensory tools provide interesting activities for the hands of dementia patients, which may help them to avoid engaging in repetitive or self-injurious behavior.  

The Benefits of Twiddle Muffs to People with Autism

In addition to dementia, autism is another condition that may benefit from the use of twiddle muffs. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that is caused by differences in the brain. It is a broad type of medical condition, and its symptoms vary. But some of the main symptoms include difficulties in understanding the thoughts and feelings of others, getting anxious about social situations, and finding it difficult to make friends.

The Benefits of Twiddle Muffs to People with Autism

If you are taking care of a loved one who has autism spectrum disorder, below are some of the benefits that they can get from using twiddle muffs:

Sensory Input and Calming Effect

The textures and objects featured on a twiddle muff, such as the buttons and ribbons, may help calm and soothe patients with autism. Whenever they feel anxious about certain situations, places, or people, holding a twiddle muff and fidgeting with the objects attached on it may help calm them down and focus their attention to it rather than the things that make them feel uncomfortable. 

Improved Hand Function

Some patients with autism find it difficult to hold items or control their hands. But the different textures and features on a twiddle muff may help them improve their fine motor skills and hand function over time.


Twiddle muffs are highly customizable sensory tools. Since they are handmade, you can customize and personalize them in order to meet the needs of the patient. You may attach textures that will make the patient feel comfortable to touch. You may also include small items, such as the favorite toys of the patient, which they can easily fidget with if they feel anxious. 

How to Make a Twiddle Muff

a person crocheting

If you know people who have dementia and autism and you’d like to give them twiddle muffs, these sensory tools are very easy to create. It is a fun and easy project that you can work on regardless of your knitting or crocheting experience. If you want to try making a twiddle muff, below are some of the materials that you need and the directions on how to make one.


  • Wool
  • Needles (6.5mm straight needles / 8mm circular)
  • Beads, zips, ribbons (other things that can be twiddled with but will not break or are not sharp to touch)


  • Using two strands of double knitting wool, cast on 40 stitches. You may also choose to use one strand of chunky wool.
  • Work in stocking stitch for 11 inches or 28cm.
  • For the muff body, continue with the stocking stitch and use up any leftovers of different wool textures. Some examples are snuggly, mohair, chunky, chenille, ribbon, and eskimo.
  • Knit until it measures 23 inches or 58.5cm, then cast off.
  • Sew the long edges together neatly with the purl side facing you. Then, turn the muff inside out.
  • Inside the muff body, push the cuff up and neatly sew the two short ends together.
  • The last step is decorating the muff by sewing the different objects that you have chosen to it. 

When making a twiddle muff, it is important to ensure that you choose a good variety of decorations and colors. You may include at least six different decorations on the outside and four on the inside. Also, make sure that everything is sewn tight so that they can’t be pulled off. Bits and bobs can be included on the inside of the muffs, too, as these can soothe agitated hands while keeping them warm. 

Different Types of Twiddle Muffs You Can Buy Today

If you do not have much time to give in creating a twiddle muff, or if you think you are not artsy enough for the job, no worries, as there are also a number of twiddle muffs available on the market that you can buy. They are ready-made and can be used by dementia and autism patients in an instant. Each of them also offers unique features and designs. Below are some of the different types of twiddle muffs that you can buy today:

Twiddle Cream Cat Sensory Toy: This twiddle muff is an efficient therapy aid. It is designed for anxiety relief to increase brain activity in kids with Autism and seniors living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. It includes a silicone chew fidget, a therapeutic crackle pouch, a stretchy tassel, a textured patch, and a cloth hook and loop tab.

Twiddle Nathan Weighted Therapy Aid: This twiddle muff is a highly effective tool and uses weighted sensory therapy to reduce stress and increase brain function in children with autism and elderly patients living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. It aids in improving strength and dexterity while also assisting in regaining fine motor skills.

Pinklilycare Sensory Toy for Alzheimer Patients: This sensory toy includes rich items that can keep the hands busy and reduce the loneliness of Alzheimer patients. It also provides warm comfort for the chilled hands of dementia patients. It includes ribbons, buttons, telephone coils, beads, Velcro, and zip pockets, which can be fun to fidget with. They are sewn using a strong thread to prevent them from falling off easily.

Welsoon Sensory Arm Pillow: This is a sensory fidget wrist cuff that may help relieve anxiety and restlessness that comes with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and autism by keeping the hands busy and reducing loneliness. It includes a variety of fun activities and tactile sensations. It can be wrapped around the wrist or arm, and it can be easily fixed by wearing a snap button. 

Assistex Fidget Sleeve for Adults with Dementia: This fidget sleeve for dementia provides a variety of fun activities that can keep restless hands occupied. It provides sensory activities for elderly people suffering from dementia, autism, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and more. It is a quick and comforting way to engage their hands and mind in a fun activity.

Keep in mind that when choosing twiddle muffs for people who have dementia and autism, it is important to take into consideration their needs and preferences. Consider their likes, dislikes, as well as any therapeutic requirements for their condition before buying a twiddle muff. 


Overall, we can say that twiddle muffs are indeed helpful tools for people who have dementia or autism. They can provide them with a sense of comfort and keep them calm and relaxed, especially during situations that may trigger their anxiety attacks. You just need to make sure that you are providing them with high-quality twiddle muffs that are sturdy and safe for them to use. We hope this post helped you learn more about the benefits of twiddle muffs to people with dementia and autism. 


[1] Lockyer, K. (2016, May 7). Twiddlemitts – improving life for patients. The Guardian. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from