If the Shoe Fits...

     Josh is not likely to wear it.  Give him shoes that are not his and too big for him though, and he could be the Imelda Marcos of the autism world.  Josh has a love/hate relationship with shoes.  Like most things with him, this is something that has evolved over a number of years.  When he was very young, he would wear whatever I put on his feet.  Once he started school (which for Josh was when he was 3 years old - early intervention in this state gets transferred to the school districts at that age) this started to change, particularly when he started taking his clothes off.   As I mentioned in the previous post, because keeping his clothes on was dependent upon his shoes staying on, I had to find shoes that he could not take off himself.  Hence, the hiking boot-type footwear became our shoe of choice.  What developed from there was a combination of circumstance and sensory issues that have lead to the problem we have today.  Neither Josh nor his brother outgrow things terribly fast so I don't have to buy new shoes for them very often.  This has been a double-edged sword as far as Josh is concerned.  The upside is that I haven't had to replace his shoes more than about twice a year.  The downside, is that since he was wearing the same pair of shoes for many months at a time, he was very used to the fit/feel of them.  While most of Josh's sensory issues seem to be a result of significant hypo-sensitivity leading to his craving a lot of sensory input (guess what, another post topic!), he seems to be hyper-sensitive when it comes to shoes.  This is fantastically ironic given his penchant for going to extreme lengths when it comes to creating sensory experiences for his feet.  Replacing his shoes with new ones either because he needed the next size up or because he'd worn out the ones he was wearing became a problem.  A problem that has become a great deal worse with time.  So much so that I buy him the same brand and style for as long as I can hoping that will help.... but it doesn't.  Well, it does a little.  I can't get anywhere near him with shoes that don't look like what he's been wearing.  At least with ones that look the same only a little bigger, I can get him to let me try to put them on him.  As you can imagine, companies don't always make the same style of shoes indefinitely.  So over the years I have on occasion, had to change to different brands when the style he's been wearing stops being made (this shouldn't be legal) making an already difficult transition that much worse.  It's one of those things you take for granted, with typically developing children.  They need new shoes, you get them new shoes.  With Josh, it's an event that is traumatic enough that I literally have to prepare myself psychologically for several weeks in advance.  I order the new shoes (Zappos rules!), they get here and I open the box, but leave them for a week or so to mentally get ready for what I know we have to go through.  I have to warn the staff at his school that it's "new shoe time".  When I think I'm ready I hide his old shoes and then enter what I can only describe as Smackdown mode in order to get the new pair on his feet.  It is a battle and it's not fun.  We are always late for school on these days, no matter how early I try to start the process.  He takes them off again in the car on the way to school, so we have to have a re-match once we get there.  The staff in his classroom know that they will have to deal with his taking them off throughout the next couple of days.  By about the third day, he's fine, and everything is back to normal in shoe-world.  Until the next time he needs a new pair.

     I did say this was a love/hate thing though, so let's talk about the other side of this coin.  While his own shoes in his own size are the devil, he is all about everyone else's shoes, especially if they are too big for him. It's enough of a fetish that I have to tell family and friends that come to visit to put their shoes somewhere less accessible or visible to him, or he will take off with them and then we'll have to go on a shoe hunt to find them again - unless of course he's wearing them.  He has a particular fondness for my slippers.  I have a favorite style of Ugg slippers that I wear when we're just hanging out at home and he was always taking them.  So, I checked it out and they make the same style in children's sizes so I bought him his own pair.  No go.  These are the exact same slippers, just in his size, but he won't touch them.  He wants mine.  So, what happens now is when I think I am in need of a new pair, I give my old ones to him.  This works perfectly.   He now has two pairs of my old ones (which he likes to mix and match)  and I don't have to constantly search the house for mine.  Like I said, we learn and adapt.  I'll leave you with this:  one afternoon I heard him coming down the hall - we have hardwood floors downstairs so what I heard was shoes so this caught my attention (the slippers don't make noise).  When I turned around, there was Josh, stark naked except for his pull-up, wearing a pair of my mules that have almost 3 inch heels.  There's something you don't see every day...