The right shoes for your child with special needs
Finding a comfortable pair of shoes is hard enough on your own. Finding the right pair of shoes for a child with special needs can be a daunting task.
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.
1. PATIENCE! Get ready to have a TON of patience and try on many, many, MANY shoes.
Breathe deeply and count to 30 as needed. Your child will have multiple complaints: too tight, too itchy, too loose, too uncomfortable, ETC.
2. SOCKS: A MUST HAVE! Choose a good pair of soft socks that are SEAMLESS. (available on Amazon)
3. MEASURE THE FEET BEFORE TRYING ON SHOES: use a Brannick device…these are available at the shoe stores. You can also print out and measure your child’s feet at home.
4. DESENSITIZE THE FEET: In case you followed all these steps and your child is still having difficulties putting on the shoes, try warming up his feet by massaging them or using a vibrating massager before putting the shoes or socks on. This will help desensitize the feet and will make your child’s feet less sensitive to the touch.
5. WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SHOE DESIGN: A soft upper, seam free inside, a tongue that opens widely, and the right Heel Counter- Heel Counters provide support and help the upper part of the shoe wrap around the foot. They also help protect the heel from impact. The heel counter of the shoe should not be too stiff or too tight. The heel counter should be able to provide good ankle support but avoid any contact or pressure on the foot. Shoes should be lightweight and flexible while also being supportive for your child to wear every day. Shoes are an individual preference, but, choose a wider shoe versus a longer shoe. It is always better to have the right length , which will provide more stability.
6. WHERE TO START: I recommend a local children’s shoe store, Nordstrom or Stride Rite as the best place to take your child to be properly fitted for shoes. Should you need a wider shoe than the store carries, see the links below for options:
The doctors at Frederick Foot & Ankle take pride in treating our littlest patients and have completed extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric orthopedic foot and ankle problems and deformities associated with children with special needs. We treat Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Deformities both conservatively and surgically and including: Club foot, Flat Foot, Bunions, Hammertoes, Short Achilles Tendons, Muscle Weakness, Toe Walking, In-toeing and Ankle Instability.
AFO’s or Ankle Foot Orthosis are routinely customized for our patients. We chose to carry the Scootz line of AFO’s because it is a great product, cool designs and fun colors, as well as, an assortment of compatible shoes. See link below.
At Frederick Foot & Ankle, we keep our littlest patients moving!