I have no recollection of learning to tie my shoelaces. I’m assuming my mother or father sat me down at some point to teach me this important skill, but I do not remember it. I do know that I did not know how to tie my shoes in kindergarten but had learned by first grade.
So here I am with a 3rd-grade son on the autism spectrum (who has many fine and gross motor processing delays) who is still unable to tie his shoes. Now, in his defense, I’ve never really attempted to show him. I’ve been so overwhelmed with my two younger kids, and he gets so easily distracted and frustrated. So I asked his occupational therapist at school to work on it. One of the many perks of having a child with special needs and an IEP is all the support I can rely on to help me out when we are struggling.
Here is the shoe-tying process my son’s amazing occupational therapist showed him, and it totally blew my mind with how simple it is.
Step 1: Place the ends of the laces in the extra holes at the top of the shoe.
Step 2: Make an X with the two loops of laces, tuck one loop under the other, and pull tight.
Step 3: Repeat step 2. Make an X with the two loops of laces, tuck one loop under the other, and pull tight.
Step 4: Pull the ends of shoelaces out of the extra holes.
You are done! Your shoes are now double knotted.
My son struggled most with keeping the laces tight. It took some practice at school and at home before he mastered shoe tying. His OT broke down each step a lot. For a few days they just practiced putting the laces in the extra holes. Once he mastered each step, they would then move on to the next step.
Eventually, we can show him the more traditional way of tying shoes, but for now this is working for us because he can do it independently. And he is so super proud of himself for learning how to do it!