Teaching Kids with Autism Shoe Tying


Teaching children with autism to tie their
shoes is in some ways really complicated. But after teaching Lucas to tie his shoes,
and then many other clients, I have a system that works. So keep watching as I go over the steps to
teach shoe tying. Hi, I’m Doctor Mary Barbera. Autism mom, board certified behavior analyst,
and best selling author. Each week I provide you with some of my ideas
about turning autism around. So if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube
channel hit the subscribe button, and notification bell too. I have a client, we’ll call her Suzy. Who was eight, or nine years old at the time,
and I had been consulting with her for four years. Before Suzy started school I was trying to
convince her mother that we should teach her to tie her shoes. Knowing that if Suzy got to school without
learning this skill, she probably would not pick it up easily. So in second grade just as I had predicted,
Suzy could still not tie her shoes. Even though it had been a goal on her IEP
for over a year, with the occupational therapist working on the goal. I attended an OT session, and the teaching
procedures for … To try to teach Suzy to tie her shoes were really pathetic. I talked to the OT, and tried to convince
her to use my techniques, but she just wanted to keep doing it her own way. So I talked to Suzy’s mom again, sent her
a short video modeling clip, and encouraged her to use my procedures for just five minutes
a day, and work with Suzy on her own. And within two weeks Suzy was tying her shoes. Now, for those of you that have been following
me for awhile, you might remember I did a blog way back in 2009 when I taught my son
Lucas how to tie his shoes, and then went on to present this as a case study in front
of B.F. Skinner’s daughter Julie Vargas at an EBA conference where doctor Vargas was
the discussant. Since then, I’ve had a lot of success with
teaching clients to tie their shoes. So today I want to go over the few steps for
you to learn how to teach your child, or client how to tie his, or her shoes too. Whenever we want to increase a behavior, or
decrease a behavior we have to start with assessment. And this doesn’t necessarily just mean tying
shoes. Can the child put their shoes on their feet? Can they put them on the correct feet? Can they use velcro? Can they do velcro straps? And finally, can they do any steps of the
actual shoe tying procedure? Since everyone ties there shoes a little bit
differently, it’s important that one person take the lead in teaching the child, which
is usually mom, or a teacher, or an occupational therapist. If that person is left handed though, and
the child is right handed we want to get a right handed person to take the lead. Also, a factor is that this shoe tying should
really be practiced daily. So even a paraprofessional could take the
lead with some oversight, and planning from the team. You want to get an adult shoe, and then use
two different colored laces. So whether you have a black lace, and a white
lace. Or in this case we have a red, and yellow
lace. And we want to use two different colors, because
we’re going to give a lot of verbal cues such as cross red over yellow, and yellow into
red. So we want to have the two different colored
laces. I have found that to be incredibly helpful. The shoe should not be placed on the child’s
foot when they’re first learning, but instead be placed on the table, but the shoe has to
be facing out. One of the problems with the OT that was trying
to teach Suzy to tie her shoes, is she had this little foam shoe, which wasn’t stable
on the table. And she actually had that foam facing the
wrong direction. And I thought, “This is going nowhere fast.” So the shoe should be placed on the table
facing away from the child. As it would be if [inaudible 00:04:24] was
on their own foot. Then you want to write down the steps of your
shoe tying procedure. And with each step we want to limit it to
five words or less. So my steps to teach Lucas, and my clients
were something like cross red over yellow, yellow into red, pull strings tight, make
a loop. For Lucas at one point he was making the loop
too big, so we put masking tape on each one, and we would just do tape-to-tape and that
helped provide the prompting he needed initially. For professionals, and even some parents taking
data on those steps. Whether they’re independent at which steps,
in which order might be helpful as well. We want to not only have the shoe facing out,
but if you’re teaching the child you don’t want to be sitting on the opposite side of
the table. Stand behind the child, or at least to the
side. But if you’re going to give any kind of physical
prompting, you really do want to stand behind the child and give gentle prompting. You also can consider making a video model
of the procedure. Of your procedure. And this is important because a lot of kids
will see it on video, and actually pick it up better than even live. I am going to show you a little video here
of … A video model done with the steps narrated. Cross blue over red. Red into blue. Pull strings tight. Loop red, around red. Push blue through. Pull blue bow. Pull bows tight. We want to teach the first step until it’s
mastered, and then move on to the second step, and do the whole … A whole task at the same
time. So for Lucas we had to work on cross red over
yellow for a whole session. Until we got him fluent with that, and then
yellow into red, and we can just narrate the rest of the procedure if the child can’t do
it. We always want to start at the beginning even
if you’re working on step four, you always want to start on the beginning and make sure
each step follows sequentially as it will come in the natural environment. Finally, once the skill is mastered with shoe
on the table, you’ll need to have the child practice with real shoes, and on their feet. With the same colored laces on their feet. Even having the child tie a shoe while you
hold it up in kind a situation where it’s going to be on their foot, it’s going to be
actually at a different angle than flat. So different kids need different amounts of
generalization practice, and different steps to get them actually on their feet. And once the child does master it on their
feet the other important thing is, let them tie their shoes even if it’s not perfect,
even if it’s not as tight as you would do it. The child still needs practice, and we need
to let the child tie their shoes every day. And not do it for them, or they can lose the
skill.. In summary, many people get overwhelmed with
the thought of teaching shoe tying, and just stick with velcro sneakers. Even for kids who are a lot higher functioning
than Lucas, or Suzy are. But in just five minutes a day, with these
procedures, you should be able to see success. To get you started turning things around for
any child with autism, download my free three step guide, which covers three steps you can
take today to help your child, or client with autism. Whether you’re a novice parent, or a seasoned
autism professional I know you’ll find this guide helpful. Leave me a comment, subscribe to my channel,
and share this video to help others. And I’ll see you here next week.

5 thoughts on “Teaching Kids with Autism Shoe Tying”

  1. The story is so long, I learned more about everything the OT did wrong than a truly easier method to tie shies. I wish the video would get to the point and say: use 2 different colors shoe laces. Nothing else was different.

  2. I truly don’t know what to do. I know this is a lot of writing I just did and a lot of reading on your end. I know you’re busy lady. But hope you read it and help me out here.

    My son was evaluated but they didn’t diagnose his with ASD because he makes eye contact at times and he can interact with the doctors with some things. BUT his pediatrician noticed no eye contact, and some of his ways. They diagnosed him with ADHD & Anxiety. He has sensory issues with jeans and certain foods and food smells. He BITES HIS NAILS AND CUTICLES OFF. NOW ITS TO YHE POINT WHETE HES BITING THE ACTUAL FINGER AND THE SKIN RIHHT OFF. NOW ITS NAILS, CUTICLES, & THE SKIN OF THE FINGER HE CHOOSES TO BITE. has to have socks on at all times, everything has to be tight on him(shoes, shirts and shorts), loud noises bother him, he doesn’t play that well with other kids. He’ll play & have fun but end up making his own rules and having them play his way, same for when I play with him. As a child till he was like 4 or so he changed but he would leave the section of the playground to go to a quieter less packed place. Than when it would get pack he’d come to me and that meant let’s go lol. Doesn’t get cues of certain things, doesn’t understand the difference of good friend or someone with bad intentions. Example: a kid in his class would say if you don’t pick up my mess you’re not my best friend. So he would tell me he has to pick it all up or he’s not my best friend. I want a best friend daddy. Eats the same foods, had a diaper till he was about 5, hes 7 now and can’t tie his shoes, he has a crazy good memory and obsesses over certain things. Once he memorized them and knows pretty much everything he’s done with it doesn’t wanna play with it. That’s happened so far with Thomas and friends, hotwheel/monster trucks, every vehicle out there from cars, trucks, construction equipment and vehicles etc, Star Wars, pokemon, transformers, outer space(science), & 2 more cartoons. His favorite being pokemon. He actually knows about 300 or 400 Pokémon’s and their abilities and who they transform into. His tic is humming, can hum for long time SAME EXACT HUMMING. Doesn’t change it. But there’s like 4 different kind of tunes he hums. Tells it how it is and not having a clue of feelings, loves his video games and videos, can stay up all night and day, he’ll go days without bathing if I let him. I have to keep forcing him to take a bath. He jumps right into peoples conversations to talk about something SO OFF. I could be talking about baseball with my father and he’ll jump right in and talk about Mario or pokemon. He keeps doing it until we listen. Or I firmly tell him no you wait till adults are talking. He has to be first in pretty much everything. He hates losing, doesn’t like joking that much. Just sometimes when he’s in the mood for it but other than that not much jokes. He gets mad when I joke at times. Doesn’t give much affection, only when he wants to. I can’t kiss him he doesn’t like it. He’ll wipe it off and say please don’t kiss me daddy. Or to whoever it is that’s giving him a kiss. He’ll randomly come up to me and hug me and kiss me say I love you. But that’s on his terms. He use to line up all his hot wheels in a straight line as a child, would have toys set a certain way and knew if I moved it. And once he notices it he’d put it back to the way he had it, doesn’t get the point of saying thank you or welcome just doesn’t care to say it at times. I told what do you say? He said to the lady thank you. I asked why you say thank you it’s the other one. He says oh idk daddy. I said thank you because she said thank you. So I say thank you for saying thank you to me. LoL too funny and cute. He RATHER BE HOME ALL DAY LONG THAN TO BE OUTSIDE. He’d rather play with me inside than outside. It’s like pulling tooth to get him to go outside. He’s super attached to me, he hates leaving my side and hates going with his mother. Always screams and cry at times when he has to go. He does play by himself at times and tells me not to come in. Chairs and tables can’t be wobbly. If they are he’ll search until he finds a set that doesn’t wobble.

    My mother’s best friend son is autistic with Aspergers. He’s about 40 years old and she’s like omg your son reminds me of my son sooooo much. Wow they’re like identical. That everything my son does now is how her son was and is. Her son can’t live on his own.

    I know it’s a lot of writing and ranting away. But no doctor is hearing me out. And idk what to do, doing it all on my own… his mother(were divorced) don’t feel bad I’m EXTREMELY HAPPY haha. So she doesn’t care. She says he’s fine he doesn’t have any problems. He’s just a very smart kid and stands out than most.

    What’s your thoughts and opinions?

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