Welcome! Fledglings is now run by Contact, the charity for families with disabled children. We’re working hard to make sure orders get to you quickly but until we transfer everything over to Contact, this might take longer than usual. Thanks for your patience and apologies for any delay – we expect to be in full swing again by 28th February.

Footwear & Accessories

Clothing Solutions & Accessories

Finding the right footwear or socks can often be difficult. Many people find wearing shoes and socks uncomfortable and hard to tolerate, especially if they have a sensory processing disorder - often associated with Autism.

Foot pain, resulting from a physical condition or injury can also result in a reluctance to wear shoes or socks, so it is always a good idea to consult your Doctor, Occupational Therapist or Health Professional if you think this might be the case. If you are under the supervision of a specialist NHS or Hospital Orthotics Service, please consult them if you have any concerns.

Many children with autism and/or sensory processing disorders experience hypersensitivity and cannot stand annoying bumps and seams. Fledglings stock SmartKnit Sensitivity socks, Seamless socks and AFO socks that provide relief for you child's sensitive feet. Subsequently, fastening shoelaces can be problematic for children with limited mobility or hand dexterity. We offer quick release & tie Greeper laces and coiler elastic laces to simplify this process.

View our extensive range or contact us for further information or support. If we do not stock the product you are looking for, we are happy to point you in the right direction.

Shoes & Laces

For many children and adults with additional needs, fastening shoes can be a problem. Laces can be difficult for those with limited mobility or hand dexterity. Often families will choose to use footwear with a Velcro fastening. 

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Seamless Socks

Comfortable, seamless socks can also help make footwear more bearable to wear. Try to find fabrics, which will breathe and wick away perspiration. Fabrics such as cotton, bamboo or silk work well for people with sensory issues or sensitive skin conditions. 

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"Children with sensory over-responsivity (sometimes called "sensory defensiveness") respond to sensory messages more intensely, more quickly, and/or for a longer time than children with normal sensory responsivity". This means that a sensation (in this case socks, stockings or shoes) may be perceived as "painful" and the child may have a "fright, flight, fight" response”.

If putting shoes on has become a stressful time for everybody this could exacerbate a person’s reluctance to wear shoes. It could also become a way of controlling their environment and the people around them, especially if they struggle with communication. If there are times or triggers when this behaviour is worse - think about ways of making these times less stressful. Forcing a person to wear shoes will only reinforce their reluctance to put anything on their feet. This may work when the child is small but will probably become more confrontational as the child grows older and physically stronger.

1. Start introducing footwear and wearing socks early if you can. Take your time, sometimes it is a good idea to leave the shoes around the home so the person can get used to the sight and feel of them. Another technique is to let the person get used to their feet being touched and handled, through gentle strokes and massaging the legs. You could also massage the feet and legs prior to putting on the shoes or footwear.

2. Use distraction strategies and keep dressing as low key as possible so that it does not become an unpleasant experience. Reward behaviours that you want to encourage.

3. Take your time – allow plenty of time in your dressing routine so that no one feels hurried or stressed.

4. Make sure the footwear is the right size. No one wants to wear tight and painful shoes – ill-fitting footwear can also damage the feet as they grow.

5. Find comfortable footwear. Think about the type of fastenings on the shoe for example:

  • Buckle and lace-up shoes can also be awkward for both the wearer and the carer to put on and remove. The can also be tight and restrictive. 
  • Velcro fastening shoes are more convenient. The Velcro straps will also allow the shoes to be worn tight or loose, depending on what the wearer prefers. For school (if they are permitted) and sports these can help the wearer and staff get changed more easily. 
  • If the person does not like the shoes to be close fitting, maybe try a bigger or wider size so that he can have more room for their toes. 
  • Think about what the shoe is made of. Some people may prefer the softer, more flexible feel of a textile fabric, rather than leather. Footwear with soft fleecy linings may also be more comfortable. Some families have found trainers or soft high top trainers are a good option. 
  • Some families have told us that their child will wear shoes that are easy to take on and off (they feel less stressed as they feel they have more control over what they are wearing) such as Crocs. These are also available in fleece-lined versions - ideal for colder weather. 
  • If the wearer is able to make a choice of footwear, it may help e.g. letting them choose the shoes they want when they are purchased or leaving the shoes around the house so they can try them on in their own time.

6. Wilbarger Deep Pressure Proprioceptive Technique - this technique is designed to help desensitise those with sensory processing disorders. However if you consider using this method, please consult an Occupational Therapist or Health Professional before proceeding.

The Wilbarger Protocol or brushing therapy is often used as part of a sensory integration or sensory therapy program. The technique is based around brushing the body with a small surgical brush throughout the day. This therapy was developed by Patricia Wilbarger, MEd, OTR, FAOTA. The therapy usually takes 2-3 minutes to administer. The first step involves using a soft, plastic, sensory brush or Therapressure Brush which is run over the child's skin, using very firm pressure. In effect, it is like a deep pressure massage. Brushing begins at the arms and works down to the feet. (Please note: The face, chest, and stomach area are never brushed - as they are too sensitive. Brushing these areas may cause adverse reactions including vomiting).

Please Note - there is not much documented research on the Wilbarger Protocol and we cannot verify its effectiveness. However, many parents of children with autism have reported seeing decreases in sensory stress and anxiety through using this technique. Some of the benefits may include improved ability to transition between daily activities, improved attention span and less discomfort of being touched.