Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tips for Apert Feet 2: "Shoe Struggles"

Over the last fourteen years, it has been pretty tricky trying to find the right shoe with the right fit, for our son's Apert feet which can accompany discomfort, whether the toes have been separated or not, due to the simple fact that they are shaped differently.  Some kids with Apert Syndrome also have problems with the bones either on the bottom or the sides of their feet, so it can be tricky in finding what works best for your son/daughter.

Aside from the comfort, the fine motor aspect of securing shoes plays as big of a role as the fit of the shoe.  Having low tone and fine motor difficulties can affect not only children with Apert Syndrome, but other populations ranging from children with other fine motor difficulties to the elderly.   Independence along with comfort is the ultimate goal for self care.

When it came time for shoes, it seemed, (at least back then) there weren't as many shoe options for boys, but I have made a list of all the brands of shoes that we bought for Logan while he was a toddler and during his growing transitions as well.

  • Buster Brown and Stride Rite - These two brands of shoes were great for our son while he was a toddler, perhaps up until about the time for him to start Kindergarten.  Both of these shoes fit wide, which was what our son needed for his splayed toes.  The pair we bought for him also came with Velcro, so that made it even more practical!  There are still a lot of department stores that sell these types of shoes, as well as for online purchase.  The disadvantage was that they only came in sizes up until he was about four or five years old.  
  • Crocs - Another type of shoe that most people are familiar with are the Crocs.  Logan wore these for a very long time, but was only able to wear them places other than school.  They weren't safe for P.E. and recess during school hours, but they sure came in handy for home and when we ventured out into public.  There are many versions, or "off brands" of the Crocs that are sold at Walmart and Target, which is what we bought when he was younger, and they were less expensive.  
  • Shoes with Velcro straps - When it was time for Logan to begin school, we bought him a pair of regular tennis shoes that had the Velcro straps.  I found that Nike, New Balance and a few off brand shoes came in his size that were not too expensive, that had one strap that pulled over to the other side of his shoe and adhered to the other Velcro piece.  These were very practical and gave him some independence.  (As I stated in the previous blog:  "Tricks for the Apert Hands:  Addressing Dressing," ...We worked on tying shoes and laces for awhile while he was younger, but it became too frustrating for him.  Accordingly, we decided that for all practical purposes, tying shoes was not the most important skill for him to master, but it is certainly a parental preference of what is best for your child.)  The disadvantage of Nike, is that most of their shoes run pretty narrow, so this brand of shoe only worked for a brief period.  We then moved into off brands that sporting stores offer with the Velcro straps, so that he could be as independent as possible.  Now that he is almost 15 years old, we have found that New Balance has been the best fit for his feet, due to the fact that they come in widths.  We are fortunate that we have a local New Balance store that we go to now, and the salesmen know what they are doing!  They measure his feet every time we go, and they even recognize that he has one flat foot and one that is high arched.  They picked out a specific shoe for him because they also could tell that he pronates on his feet (turning them inward) so he has shoes that have a bit of a stronger material on the inside portion.  In addition to the shoe, we also purchase a memory foam sole insert which helps with the difference in his arches and supports for his foot pain.  We have not yet encountered experience with AFO's or custom orthotics.    
  • No-Tie Shoe Laces - Once our son was in a bigger youth shoe size, our choices became slim for finding a pair with the Velcro straps.  We started buying the regular shoes, but took out the shoe strings and replace them with Y-Ties which I bought through one of his school fund raisers.  In the sporting stores or online, they are called No Tie Shoe Laces.  When you insert them into the shoe you can adjust it to be as tight or loose as you need, at which then our son was able to slip his foot in and out of the shoe.  (He also needed our assistance for awhile with getting his heel into his shoes, until he got the hang of it) 

Y-Ties Shoe Laces

  • Shoe Clips - We tried two different types of shoe clips to put onto the shoe laces:  1.  Hickies,  which are stretchy, rubber-like clip inserts in place of the shoe strings.  We ordered these online, and they worked well for our son, but only temporarily.  Advantages of these were that with these clip inserts, all he had to do was pull the shoe tongue back just enough to slip his foot into his shoe.  However, the problem with them is that after a while, one will inevitably break.  But, they do come with extras in the event that one breaks.  The most practical shoe lace we have found so far, are the "performance stretch laces."  These laces come with clips that help you to draw the string tighter, and depending on the brand, they ranged from about $2.99 - $7.99 per pair of laces.  I bought the cheaper ones because truthfully they are all the same, and I was buying them specifically for the clips.   If you go to a sports store, they will be in the small section with different types of shoe laces.  You can also order them online! There are also some other shoes clips out there that are magnetic, but we haven't tried these yet.   They can range from about $5 to $100!  I happened to come across some magnetic clips called Zubits, and they had great reviews, however they run pretty expensive.  I think it will be important to read reviews for each brand in order to make the best decision for your child, as well as the budget! 
One other quick tip:  Using a shoe horn also makes it much easier to put shoes on without the back bending down and getting stuck, and they are only about $1.47 at Walmart.

On the next blog, I will be posting information on our experience with handwriting and assistive technology.  I have a LOT of information to share, not only with my son's experiences now that he is a freshman in high school, but from my perspective as a special education teacher.

Until next blog,
God Bless,

Lisa Brown