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.
COMMON ISSUES & SOLUTIONS
For many children and adults with additional needs, fastening shoes can be a problem. Shoe laces can be fiddly and difficult for those with limited mobility or hand dexterity to tie for example. Often families will choose to use footwear with a Velcro fastening which makes taking shoes on and off easier. For children of primary school age there are lots of footwear options available with slip on shoes for school, sports and at home. However, as children enter secondary school or college they may need lace fastening shoes. There may also be less Velcro fastening footwear options available, especially for sport shoes while some schools may specify a smart lace up shoe as part of the uniform.
There are options available for lace up shoes such as replacing the laces with elastic laces. Once the elastic laces have been fitted to the shoes, they need only be fastened once, and then the shoe can be slipped on an off by the wearer. This will help, particularly as the student progresses through secondary school or college, as they may not have any one to help them fasten their shoes or dress. Other options may not have elastic/stretchy laces but have a quick release toggle which keep the shoe fastened.
Greepers - once these non- elastic laces are threaded through the shoe they are fastened with quick release / fastening toggle. Once the Greepers are fitted to the footwear the laces are loosened simply by pulling on the pull tab on the toggle. These laces are available in a range of colours that will suit everyday shoes and sports shoes. Available at Fledglings.
Coiler Elastic Laces - a coiled laces that once pulled through the shoe does not need to be tied. Available at Fledglings.
Triathlon Laces – Triathletes use special laces, which allow them to pull their shoes on and off without wasting time. Some are elastic, while others are secured with a sliding lock toggle (or both) and they come in a wide range of colours. These can be found at a wide range of sports outlets, such as Wiggle, Decathlon, Sports Direct, Amazon and Ebay, etc.
"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:
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.