Developmental milestones are something that we have never taken for granted having two sons with autism. But we never give up. They are 22 and 20 now, and we have gotten in the habit of regularly setting small goals for them. This has been especially true during the Pandemic. When we reach one of these goals we celebrate like we have won a gold medal!
One recent goal was met by my younger son Tyler. It was actually a goal on his IEP, and had been for the last couple of years. Tyler’s school Occupational Therapist was working on it for awhile, and so were we, kind of, but we really didn’t know how to teach him.
Fast forward to the Pandemic, and we chose the all remote route for Tyler. There were no therapies offered from March to August, but in September, Tyler started receiving remote OT. Over Zoom, we talked with Tyler’s Occupational Therapist about our shared goal to teach Tyler how to tie his shoes. She shared with me her special secret method for shoelace tying.
With her guidance, I created the perfect shoe and lace combination according to her specifications, and started working on the task with Tyler. April supervised each step in our twice weekly Zoom sessions, and well you have probably guessed it by now! Within about six weeks, Tyler was tying his own shoelaces! It was like a miracle!
Tyler’s OT and I have talked about the collaboration that made this miracle possible, and we agree that this never would have happened without a Pandemic. This is because we, the parents, are often left out of the equation when it comes to our children’s school therapy, and that leaves out the most important piece of the equation, which is us. My children’s school careers are almost over at this point, but I share this story to remind you how important you are in your children’s progress no matter how old they are. Keep dreaming!
Here’s the recipe for tying shoes that Tyler’s OT, April, taught us:
1. Tie two different shoelaces (of different colors or patterns) together and lace up the shoes. (you will need to tuck the extra lace in where the laces are tied together).
2. Have a normal amount of lace to tie your bow. (you may need to play with the lace to get it right).
3. Flip your right lace to the left and your left lace to the right.
4. Tuck your right lace under the left and pull tight.
5. Make a sizable loop and hold it at the bottom with your thumb and pointer finger.
6. Wrap the lace around your thumb and push the lace through the hole between the loop and the other lace. Pull the loops in opposite directions.
7. Voila! You have tied your shoes.