Teaching Kids with Autism Shoe Tying

Teaching Kids with Autism Shoe Tying

November 24, 2019 5 By Stanley Isaacs


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.