Ask the Horizons Team: Shoe Tying Struggles

19
Apr

Ask the Horizons Team: Shoe Tying Struggles

Question:

We are having an issue with shoe tying in our house!  I have 5 children under the age of 8, and my oldest has significant fine motor and visual processing issues.  It’s been an uphill battle trying to teach him to tie his shoes.  When we need to go somewhere it takes me forever to get everyone’s shoes on and tied.  I’ve tried to go the slip-on shoe route, but my older son really wants “regular” sneakers.  Do you have any ideas for us to try?

-Angela in Toledo, Ohio

Answer:

Hi Angela,

I hear you about the hassle of trying to get everyone’s shoes on, tied, and out the door.  That’s one of the things I love about the summer months – crocs and flip-flops for everyone!  You mentioned your son’s fine motor and visual processing issues, and those are definitely challenges when it comes to a complex motor task like shoe tying.  While he may be able to learn to do this independently at some point, he will need to work on underlying developmental milestones in those areas first.  Shoe tying requires a mastery of fine motor control, visual processing, cognitive sequencing, and many other skills we don’t even consciously think about.  Often this type of skill is included in treatment for autism, and can be addressed if a child has a learning disorder .  If he’s not working with a professional who can help you identify the underlying issues he needs to work on, let me know and I’ll give you some additional support in that area.

As for immediate solutions, I’ve got a great one for you!  I recently came across a company called Lock Laces that makes inexpensive laces for regular shoes, but don’t require tying.  They use a patented elastic lacing system that you simply pull tight with a spring-activated locking device.  I’ve used them with many clients with great success.  They will allow your son (and any of your other kids) to independently “tie” his regular sneakers.  Lock Laces cost just a few dollars a pair, and you can get more information at their website here: http://www.locklaces.com.

Give them a try and let me know how they work out for you!

-Nicole

Comments

  • Susan Byre
    April 23, 2012

    When he is ready to try tying laces, you can also find alternative methods for that and perhaps identify one that will be easier for him to master. Just Google “shoe lace tie alternative” or similar and you will find sites such as this: http://www.instructables.com/id/alternative-ways-to-tie-your-shoelaces/

  • Nicole Beurkens, PhD
    April 23, 2012

    Hi Susan,
    Yes, there are many different approaches to use for actually tying ones shoe laces. If you wait until the child is developmentally ready to tackle the task, then there are lots of different approaches that can be successfully used.
    Thanks for commenting!
    Nicole

  • Joanna Martin Menolasino
    April 23, 2012

    Thanks for sharing the locklaces site. I work as a preschool intervention specialist and shoe tying is quite a challenge for many of my older students but also a skill that many of my families identify as important. I am not a fan of Velcro as I hate the sound it makes but these laces may be the perfect compromise. I can’t wait to share the site with the school OT tomorrow.

  • Nicole Beurkens, PhD
    April 23, 2012

    You are so welcome Joanna! I hope they work out really well for your students. We have loved using them with our clients!
    -Nicole

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