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OT/PT Corner: 17 Tips For Finding the Right Shoes for a Child with Special Needs

[Source:  Friendship Circle]

The wrong pair of shoes can create a day of misery for anyone. When special needs are added to the mix, the right pair of shoes can become elusive. Increased foot discomfort is associated with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), use of an Ankle-Foot Orthosis (AFO), feet of different shapes or sizes, and medical conditions such as diabetes or edema. Certain features in shoes can reduce that discomfort.

Making Shoes More Comfortable

Of course, any pair of shoes can be made more comfortable with a few tricks of the trade:

1. Tight Or Loose?
Consider whether loose fitting sandals or something snug around the ankles would be better. My 13 year old son strongly prefers Converse high top sneakers because they make him feel secure, but others find that style too constricting.

2. Desensitize the feet
Warm up the feet with a massage or vibrating toy before putting on shoes or socks – this will slightly desensitize the feet.
3. Get the right pair of socks
Offer seamless socks (like these at Kozie Klothes) or compression socks so that only smooth fabric is touching the skin (see more sensory friendly clothing tips here).
4. Think about shoe rules
Be consistent about shoe rules.  Is it OK to wear Crocs all year round?  Or are you ready to enforce shoes with socks every day?
5. Shoe size matters
Make sure you have the right size shoe!  My 13 year old went from a men’s size 6 to a men’s size 11 over a period of 14 months, and his feet are still growing.

Shoes that work with an Ankle-Foot Orthosis (AFO)

Many people who wear AFOs buy shoes a few sizes larger than their feet so that the AFO can fit inside the shoe.  Although the shoe is wide enough, it is usually too long, and that makes walking difficult. Shoes that are customized for AFOs eliminate this irregularity.

1. Keeping Pace Orthopedic Footwear
Keeping Pace Orthopedic Footwear  was the first company to make shoes designed to be worn with AFOs from toddler size 4 through adult size 10.  A pair of shoes may cost between $64 and $85.  The company was started by a mother of a child with cerebral palsy who was frustrated that her son’s new shoes were the wrong size for his braces.

Read the Rest of this Article on Friendship Circle

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