|Love the concentration|
The Boy will be 10 in a few weeks. And he STILL can't tie his shoes. I feel a shame akin to the sippy cup nonsense about this. I have been working with him on this particular skill off and on for the last 4 years. When other more important things arose- shoe tying plummeted to the bottom of the list. I mean, in comparison to learning how to make eye contact, write (which is an ongoing battle) learning social skills, potty training (another drawn out nightmare), and then learning to ALWAYS use the bathroom, learning to dress himself, learning to feed himself, and basic educational things- shoe tying really wasn't that big of a priority.
While it may seem like a simple task, tying your shoes is made up of lots of smaller tasks.And when teaching a child on the spectrum just about anything, you need to break it down into smaller chunks and perfect each stage before moving on to the next. Sounds daunting doesn't it? It is. This is how I taught him to talk, feed himself, dress himself (he still refuses to button pants- he puts them on buttoned) and everything else. So take the act of tying shoes, already a series of smaller tasks, and then have to break it down even further. It is seriously reinventing the wheel. Did I mention that I am an impatient person? And, well, Velcro is faster, period. But the time is rapidly approaching where we won't be able to find Velcro shoes, and then he stands the chance of teasing because of it as well.
This summer I promised MYSELF that I would teach him how to tie his shoes. This has gone on long enough, and he wants to play football again, and I don't want any issues with other kids when they see he can't tie his own shoes. He can't be out on the field and run to a coach or to his dad or I to help him. This is truly a life skill that he MUST learn- come hell or high water. I know more, I have YouTube videos to watch, I have studied forward and backward chaining, I have a system that allows him to earn "screen time" when he practices tying his shoes and I have my determination.
Today we had out first success- after 3 days of him fighting me and willing to not get that extra 20 minutes of screen time, I set an alarm and told him that as soon as it went off he was going to practice shoe tying with me for 10 minutes. He whined a little, but as soon as that alarm went off- he came and got me and said "Alright, let's work on this shoe tying thing" I think all my harping finally got to him, he sounded resigned, but I was THRILLED! In 10 minutes he managed to get the first step down- using forward chaining*. Now come the loops, and pushing it through- *sigh* This is where the lack of fine motor skills really slowed him down. His hands were all over the place, and he tied his thumb and finger into the lace. I could feel he was about to chuck the shoe and throw a fit- when he DID IT. It was sloppy and loose...but he tied his own shoe! A giant bear hug and big kiss had him giggling and running away, and then of course asking if he got his extra screen time- but he did it!!
*I have not used ABA very often with The Boy-I really feel like "shaping" is like dog training and my kid isn't a dog- but these particular steps not only helped him, but helped me to teach him. Today was our first success in 4 years- and we will take it!
1. Forward Chaining – begin with the first step of the task. Then teach sequential steps until they can perform all steps. This is a good method for children who have difficulty with sequencing and
2. Backward Chaining – demonstrate the entire task first. Repeat it, leaving out the last step for the child to complete. This method works well for children with low frustration tolerance or poor self esteem. It also gives the child early success.