Shoe sensitivity : My 6 year old adhd... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Shoe sensitivity

FrankenMummy profile image
21 Replies

My 6 year old adhd boy has this shoe sensitivity. He only wears one pair of dress up slide on shoes that are from Walmart and now have been glued four times from the sole falling off. I've bought him numerous pairs, including a brand new pair of the ones he already wears, which he says are too tight, so I got a shoe stretcher and he says they don't fit right, even though I showed him that they are exactly the same. His rules for shoes are so exact, can't have ties, can't have velcro need to touch the toes need to "fit perfect" in the heel. I'm just at my wit's end. I've bought bigger shoes and stuffed the toes, but that's not good either. On our continued shoe argument this morning, he broke my heart when he said "all I want is to make you happy, mom". I know that he's trying, and some kind of mental block stops him. I know I'm not going to get any answers, I just needed to let it out somewhere, as other people just see him as stubborn, but I know he can't help what's going on with whatever is stopping him from putting on these other shoes. Thanks for listening, and hopefully he'll grow out of this struggle soon.

21 Replies
Aspen797 profile image

What an articulate and loving child! And he has a great and patient mom, obviously! Are you already working with an occupational therapist? They should be able to help work on your sweet son’s tactile defensiveness. So tough though, especially shoes, as there is no getting around needing them. He’s far from alone though so there should be some shoe recommendations online for kids with sensory processing disorder. Surely other parents have tips?

Onthemove1971 profile image

We love to listening.Our son plays a sports and has very very smelly gear (Like could walk away).. so we bought him new gear, which he didn't like so we went and changed to what he wanted. We then said "no pressure".. before we knew it, he was wearing it.. I know your son is not there yet.

But could you try having the new shoes right next to his old. Then tell him, one day and reward him.. then don't say anything.. the goal would be "he would decide" when to use them. If you can get him up to multiple days then you take the old ones away. Sorry if you have already tried this.

It would also be great to ask for Occupational Thearpy at school which could really assist him in learning how best to deal with this issue.

This seems like a stage that some kids go though.

Good luck!

Shamasamdrew profile image

I am going to echo what others have said, but he could really benefit from occupational therapy. He has a sensory issue. Occupational therapists can help him with sensory regulation so he can accept wearing other types of shoes. You can pursue it via school or privately, but I would start working with one either way.

FrankenMummy profile image

He has OT through the school, but unfortunately she has gone out on maternity leave and they have no replacement for her at the moment. We also don't have the best insurance or funds at the moment so finding an outside ot is difficult just now. It's a daily struggle of him apologizing for having such a hard time and me crying and hugging him telling him that I'm sorry I can't help him. If we were in a place that would have the weather to accommodate crocs year round we might be okay, but of course we're in new york and it's about to get really cold. Thank you all for the advice !

OTmamaCO profile image

Can I just say?: You are amazing!! I hope you know that.

And as an OT myself, I’m so happy to see others recommending OT support! The reality is you may not have the insurance or financial ability to access that. But if you can, I think it could be very helpful.

Does he have other sensory preferences that impact daily life? Like not wanting to touch certain textures, or tolerating only a certain type of clothes, etc? Does he prefer to go barefoot?

If he will let you, I’d suggest doing a lot of silly play involving feet - games wher you have to tiptoe, then heel walk, any activity that lets you touch his feet (like partner push-pull where you sit on the floor facing each other and the soles of your feet against each other, holding hands and you rock toward and back from each other and when one goes backward the other has to pull them back up - if that makes sense?)

I love the other poster’s idea of just having the shoes out so he can get used to the idea of them.

And sometimes handing the problem over to the child can help - the next time his shoes are falling apart, maybe ask him “oh man, these are falling apart again and I don’t know if glue can hold them anymore. What do you think we should do?” I’ve been surprised at the ideas my ADHD child has sometimes come up with when I stopped thinking I had to solve the problem for them. Maybe he’d let you take him to a shoe store and try on a bunch of shoes with the understanding that there’s no pressure? You’re just looking and he doesn’t have to pick new ones.

Just some thoughts in case they resonate. Sending hugs to you!

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to OTmamaCO

Love all these ideas thanks for helping.I would speak to the person responsible for his educational plan and explain it impacts everyday. If it is written in then theu are required to provide it. Maybe speak to a.supervisor..they should contact out.

Hope you can make progress on this soon.

Big hug for all your stress.

Elijah1 profile image

Does he have any anxiety behaviors (is he a worrier, does he check on you or seek reassurance, or is bothered by certain situations)? The sensory issues may be a manifestation of anxiety or OCD.

Momtrying profile image

I just want to say hang in there! You are trying so hard to do what’s best and we all know that it is EXHAUSTING! My son will flip before he even gets a pair of pants all the way on if he thinks they are going to fit weird. And he too only wears one pair of shoes. Luckily they haven’t fallen apart yet! Just know you aren’t alone, we know the pain, the crying, being so tired. You are doing all you can and in time he will probably be ok wearing something else. It’s hard in the moment though.

Maybe you could use a different schools OT? For the time being?

Good luck 😊

eva2022 profile image

What is it about SHOES???!!! They are such a struggle! I want to tell you that I admire how you have managed and have loved your child through the daily frustrations. I see you and I hear you. Moms like you inspire me to keep trying with my own austistic/adhd son.

MNmom99 profile image

hi there thank you for sharing. Parenting a child that has some ADHD is a struggle. They can drive us crazy one day and be exactly what we ever looked for in a child the next. you are here along with us all we are doing our best. You are a good mom, be kind to yourself. Sometimes there are no answers which to me, I know it’s part of the struggle. I wish there was a quick and easy fix but it never seems there is keep doing what you’re doing as you’re being the best mom for your child hang in there and I hope the pieces fall exactly where you need them to be for you and your child Sending you both hugs 🥰

lll435 profile image

You are definitely not alone with this issue. My 6 year old son has the sensitivity with shoes (and pants) - they have to be super tight and he has narrow feet so it's been very difficult. I can't tell you how many different shoes I've bought but still it's a daily battle. I also tried the heel inserts/backing, cotton etc. He loses control when it doesn't feel right. Our OT also recommended proprioceptive activities - you can find a lot via Google and YouTube. It doesn't solve the problem completely but helps give some of the sensory input they are seeking before putting on the shoes. I do think it will get better as he gets older simply because there will be more shoe options for them. Another thought, teaching him to tie laces for fun might eventually open him up to wanting shoes with laces.

Onthemove1971 profile image

One last thought. Could you fins a group on mom's that live in NY , who have kids with sensory issues?

Lanego profile image

I hear you. My daughter has sensory issues but it has gotten better over time so so I hope that is the case with your son. She is 10 now and has learned to accept that shoes will take some time to get used to. It is EXTREMELY frustrating to buy shoes and then not be the "right" fit. Hang in there!!

FrankenMummy profile image

Thank you all so much for the support and the ideas. We are having a meeting with everyone at the school next week to troubleshoot everything going on....we went shopping yesterday and I seemed to have found some shoes that work for him! The only problem is that now the pants sensitivity has come back! He wears leggings or tights under basketball shorts, and now as of this morning, every single pair doesn't fit. We have been dressing him at night to sleep in his clothes as it presents a better morning, but now it took over an hour and he ended up choosing clothes and sleeping in his underwear, so now I've got to wake up super early to have the time to get him dressed. A new little girl started in his class this week and I'm pretty sure his anxiety is causing the uproar of the sensitivity, but he won't talk to me about it. Hopefully it will get easier one day, but I guess that's not they say, easy to love, hard to raise...if anyone has some good activities that worked with desensitization with tight pants and waistbands, I'd love to hear them....thank you all again, so much, it really made me feel like we're not alone

Baimimi profile image

Both my 11yo daughter and my 10yo nephew both have sock and shoe sensitivity. It is better now than it used to be but I still have to hide socks/shoes w holes in hope she'll give the newer ones a try. Some stuff that has worked for me

*Used shoes may be more comfortable. Try taking him to thrift shops and compare the experience he has w newer vs more worn shoes to test this theory.

*Shoes/clothing from an older sibling or another older kid they look up to. I think the kid smell helps.

*Distraction: Pair using new shoes with an absolutely fun activity he can't wait to get out the door for. New shoes + first day of school is unlikely to end well. My daughter only goes to school w tattered clothing she's outgrown and several days worth of food drippings.

*Have foot/hand warmers, slippers or blankets in the car to warm up cold feet when they fling off the shoe they took 45min to put on at home and walk around barefooted.

Air hugs!

Pattimum profile image

I would say if OT help is not an option for you then you could research sensory integration strategies yourself. You could first analyse broader what he does tolerate- let’s say is he okay ‘walking on pebbles bare foot’ is he okay ‘walking bare foot on sand’, is he okay ‘stepping into foam or liquid gooey stuff’ - mud or tinned pasta in tomato sauce with bare feet. These are strategies that OT normally recommends to improve child’s sensory coping. You would have to expose him to those daily- making him used to it, desensitise. I remember when my son was a baby there were those toddler classes where such sensory activities were set up for babies and toddlers - there was always a small paddling pool full of pasta in tomato sauce, some dry stuff like flour, sand, water, foam etc - to expose children to these so they improve their sensory processing skills.

You could also look further- does he have other sensitivities which now you overlook since the ‘shoe situation’ is most urgent.

All those sensory processing sensitivities can be helped. Also most of the time they get better as children grow older.

Butler06 profile image

Hello I have a similar problem with my grandson who was diagnosed ADHD. Shoes never seem to fit him right also. This has been going on for quite some time. He prefers shoes that are falling apart. It was embarrassing to start a new school in those shoes but every time we buy him shoes he had complaints about them. Plus he’s always removing his shoes. We can be in the car or in the house. They come off.

NYCmom2 profile image

Both of my kids have shoe and clothing sensitivities for different reasons.

Extra wide New Balance sneakers have solved many issues related to one son’s concerns about tightness. Super soft socks really help too. I let him wear Crocs when he’s struggling.

Buying one specific design and brand of sneaker with Velcro for my other son for over 5 years worked for him. Literally a stack of increasing in size sneakers stored in his closet. I held my breath when making the leap to men’s sizing. He successfully made the transition by sticking with the same brand and similar style. He thankfully adjusted to tying his own laces.

FrankenMummy profile image
FrankenMummy in reply to NYCmom2

I wish it was that easy for mine! He took a liking to high top converse so we bought 3 pairs within a month, and then he didn't like them anymore! He can't do velcro and the socks right now have to be ankle length after he freaked out for 1.5 weeks about having long socks and switched back to ankles. I found him some skecher sneakers that are okay for now, but have a ton of size 13 shoes waiting for him when these ones get to be not comfortable. I bought a bunch of dress shoes second hand when that seemed to be the winner, but alas, it was only the one specific pair that works! He now has gone from having a weeks worth of shorts to now 2 pairs that are the right size waistband and feel comfortable to him, unless I can trick him by saying that I found his "favorite shorts that always fit right", if he's in the right mood it works. I'm sure this is more anxiety related but gah! So frustrating!

Blue_adhdmomma profile image

I love reading these posts, makes me feel like I’m not alone. So glad I found this page and was able to sign up. Thank you for sharing even if it is to air it out. Im also happy to tell u, ur not alone. My boy is now 10yrs old and not only did he decide to wear a second pair of shoes besides crocs imitates, he now wears running shoes with LACES! Yes laces! I remember when he started pre-k all he wanted to wear were crocs. He did not like shoe laces, no velcro, no jeans, no button shirts, no zippers, anything that would give him a “hug” is what I would always call it. It was definitely difficult especially letting go of clothes/shoes he never even wore. But eventually we found toms which provided shoes for wide feet even though he didn’t have wide feet but he just did not like the shoes to “hug” him. From there time definitely past and he started seeing the different options shoes with lights started to be his thing so we looked for shoes a bit bigger so they wouldn’t be so “huggable” but still no laces. By the age 7-8 he decided he wanted to try the new shoes mom always had right next to the crocs. Boy did I get rid of many good new shoes I had available for him in case he wanted to try. Last year he learned how to fully tie his shoes, he said he didn’t want his teacher to help him all the time with tying his shoes in school in front of his classmates. So we practiced until he got it right. This year he is tying shoes solo. But still can’t be convinced to wear just any shoe. I just bought him some new shoes, no laces because the shoes he currently has are falling apart. He said no to them because they are “too tight” meaning huggable. The shoe is even a bigger size then he normally wears but it’s the sensory part he just does not feel comfortable in. So I will return them to see if we can find something more comfortable. Every child is different so what worked for us might not work for all just wanted to share my experience. It’s nice to hear he enjoyed the sneakers, his feet will definitely thank u bcuz of the weather.

FrankenMummy profile image
FrankenMummy in reply to Blue_adhdmomma

That's nice to hear! I'm hoping it gets better! Though after 2 weeks of the new shoes he now can no longer wear socks, tights, leggings, coats... we're now back to crocs, gym shorts, and sweatshirts with vests. I'm hoping as it gets colder his comfort will overtake the sensitivity. I've got boots waiting for him, and thinking about taking him to try some ugg type boots that need no socks to keep him warm, but who knows? What a journey, hopefully one day I can laugh about it!

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