5 Tips for Helping Your Child with Special Needs Tie Their Shoes!
For those of you with neurotypical children often tying a shoe comes fairly easy with a bit of practice. For my children who have special needs, tying a shoe proved to be QUITE complicated yet it is an important Adaptive Skill! Adaptive skills are essential for a child to master in order to be a successful adult. Adaptive skills are defined as practical, everyday skills needed to function and meet the demands of one’s environment, including the skills necessary to effectively and independently take care of oneself and to interact with other people.
All of my children have sensory issues. Just getting shoes on my children proved to be a challenge! LOL Then there are issues with fine motor skills. All of my children have poor fine motor skills along with poor visual-spatial and visuomotor skills. Each of these issues further complicates what should be a simple task! When I understood all my children’s disability issues it made sense that the first of my surviving quadruplets did not tie her shoes until she was seven (7) years old! My son was finally able to tie his shoes at nine (9) years old, and my other son, with the greatest impairments, just got how to tie his shoes this year at eleven (11)! This post will give you 5 great tips to help your child learn to tie their shoes.
Tips for Helping to Tie Shoes
Practice, Practice, Practice! One of the best ways to help your child learn to tie their shoe is to practice over and over again. I would try out a few different methods to help your child tie their shoes. Once you have tried a few methods then ask your child with the method they like best. Then focus on that method. The next few tips focus on various shoe tying methods.
After a bit of hunting, I found some cool bi-colored laces that are similar to the ones in the video. The nice thing about the two different colored laces is that it helps your child to visually keep track of what they are doing with the laces on the left and right side of the shoe. The Easy Tie Shoe Laces are bi-colored and come in a variety of colors with a good rating on Amazon. I also found some other laces, Bi-Colored Tyes (shoelace), that were bi-colored and highly rated.
Don’t sweat the small stuff! As a parent of multiple children with disabilities, I have found there are often bigger worries in my life than if my children can manually tie their shoe. As I said, there have been times it has been hard to get shoes on my kids so I was happy if they had anything at all on the bottom of their feet! I wanted my children to learn to tie their shoes so I was not having to tie three sets of shoes before heading out the door! When my children were toddlers I would have to start getting them ready to head out the door an HOUR before we needed to leave the house, to then drive to the appointment, all because my children lacked adaptive skills including shoe tying. Now there are SO many great products out on the market including a lot of great options for older children so they no longer HAVE to wear Velcro shoes!
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Cut two shoelaces of contrasting colors in half, hot glue the cut-off ends together to create a dual-colored lace, lace up the shoe, and see how much easier it is for the child to visually determine which lace is which when practicing shoe tying! This is especially helpful for children who struggle with visual discrimination. I find that tube-shaped laces (vs. flat, floppy laces) tend to be easier to work with because they are a little stiffer and hold their shape better when looping. This is not an original idea on my part by any means! Occupational Therapy professionals have been using a shoe tying trick like this for years. But you may not have come across it before, or maybe you didn t know it was so easy to make your own modified shoe laces!