Tips For Finding the Right Shoes for your child with special needs

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.

Allow the person with special needs to take extra time to select and try on a preferred style at the shoe store.

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 .

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.

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