Autism and Tying Shoes Tips

Autism and Tying Shoes Tips

Excerpt from Dr. Mary Barbera on her website (

  • 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 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. So the shoe should be placed on the table facing away from the child. As it would be if the shoe 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. At one point Lucas 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 and this is important because a lot of kids will see it on video, and actually pick it up better than even live.

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