How to Teach Autistic Children to Tie Shoes


Because children with autism are different than other children, they may have more difficulty learning how to tie their shoes. Tying shoes is not only a matter of coordinating the hands, but also getting the patterns correct and pulling tightly enough to keep the shoes comfortable. Children with autism might not have motivation to tie their shoes or may lose patience with the process. Parents need to teach children appropriate methods not only to tie the shoes, but to remember the process and make it a habit. Using the bunny-ear method is an easy way to coordinate children's fingers and provides a mental image to remember.

  • Tell the child to make an "X" with the laces. Show the child by crossing the laces, slipping the lace of one side under the lace of the other side and then pulling tightly. Have the child try after you've shown him.

  • Make bunny ears. Make one loop with one lace and one loop with the other lace. Tell the child that the loops are bunny ears. Have the child make the loops on the other shoe.

  • Hold the loops and wrap one loop around the other loop. Slip the loop through the opening. Grasp the loop and pull tightly, tying the shoe. Have the child repeat the actions with the other shoe.

  • Practice several times with the shoe off the child's foot and then practice with the shoe on. Repeat the skills every day until the child masters tying her shoes.


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