I have a billion new toys to review, but work demands have made that impossible lately. In the meantime, please take some time to submit a public comment to the Consumer Products Safety Commission on an issue dear to my heart: magnetic ball sets.
I use sets of magnetic balls - like BuckyBalls - to help my sensory issues, but unfortunately they’re not safe for children or people with disabilities (like pica) that might cause them to eat magnets. Instead of just passing regulation to restrict sales of these magnets to children and educate people more about dangers, the CPSC has proposed to ban them entirely. This means that a lot of people like me will not be able to get a sensory toy that works for them.
The comments period is open until Monday, November 19 (but note that the web site will be down for almost all of Saturday and Sunday morning). Unfortunately, they’ve been getting a LOT of comments from well-meaning people who are in favor of the ban, apparently thinking that these magnets are used only for entertainment and/or that the regulation would only ban sales to children.
You can submit your comment by going to the regulations.gov website, reading the proposed guidelines, and clicking “Comment Now.” Here’s what I said:
As an individual living with trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling) and dermatillomania (compulsive skin picking), I oppose this regulation. The Commission should instead rely on safety warnings and public awareness to reduce injuries.Trichotillomania and dermatillomania are characterized by uncontrollable urges to pull out hair or pick at skin. The consequences may include low self-esteem, social anxiety, disfigurement, and even dangerous infections caused by open wounds. They are not simply bad habits but rather potentially lifelong challenges.Although medications and therapy can provide some help, I, like many people suffering from trichotillomania and dermatillomania find that the best way to stop picking skin or pulling hair is to obtain alternative sensory input. (See, e.g., Help Yourself: A Self-Help Program to Managing Trichotillomania,http://www.trich.org/dnld/HelpYourself.pdf). Finding the perfect kind of sensory input can be difficult: what may work for one person may not work at all for another.After intensive search for the perfect sensory toy, I find that strong magnet sets are number one in terms of enabling me to avoid hair-pulling and skin-picking. I keep them on my desk at my child-free workplace and use them to avoid skin-picking and hair-pulling while at work. Through in-person and online support groups, I have met many others who feel similarly.It is crucial that the CPSC undertake a serious cost-benefit analysis before banning strong magnets. Magnets have caused approximately 22 injuries (and no deaths) over the course of three years. Although any injury is a tragedy, there are almost certainly more than 22 adults who have avoided self-injury thanks to these tools. Injuries can be further reduced through public awareness campaigns such as those for poisonous household products, balloons, and plastic bags - all of which are far more dangerous to children than magnets.Thank you for your consideration.