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Child refusing to put shoes on

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by Hedgehog_, Oct 26, 2019.

  1. Hedgehog_

    Hedgehog_ New commenter


    Title says it all really! TA in mainstream working with complex needs (severe autism). A little one I work with at lunchtime has started to take his shoes off while in the playground. Not a major problem you might think and no it isn't, except when I try to get them back on him he nips (I don't mind this, I get nipped several times a day) but he then goes for me and tries to bite me. When he tries to bite me, I pull away and then take him inside using physical diversion (not force) where I will get someone to assist with putting his shoes on or we will go for a walk elsewhere (not outside). I suppose not having shoes on is not the worst thing but it is my duty of care to keep him safe and I worry about him hurting his feet, more to the point he won't be able to do this when it is icy outside so it cannot become a habit. So do you have any suggestions? I guess I could just try to put them on him and simply pull away when he bites and then persevere, or get some assistance from another member of staff. I'm Team Teach trained but I don't want to resort to this nor do I think it would really be appropriate or necessary. The class teacher I discussed it with just said to try to put them on but if not to bring him back inside through the nearest entrance. It has been very close to him biting me a couple of times. He's pre-verbal by the way and wouldn't respond to a verbal instruction. He does use PECs but this hasn't worked so far. He also will try to pull his trousers and pants right down which provokes the same reaction when I pull them up again.
  2. Jo3Grace

    Jo3Grace New commenter


    Have you tried supporting him before you ask him to put his shoes on. Moments of transition are always difficult for people with autism and sudden ones are the worst.

    He needs to know what is expected from the start...so pecs timetable for lunch break could be good for this if he is understanding symbols. But then you need to add some form of countdown. E.g. a 5min egg timer to let him know the next part is coming. With the expectation that he will perform that.

    Your duty of care is important. And stunning your toe might hurt. But sudden demands which cause distress hurt psychologically and your duty of care extends to them to.

    For additional support you could create an social story to talk about what is going to happen and add in support there about what is going to happen during the transition. E.g. which door will he go back into school through. Are there any games or songs you can play or sing as you get in. Etc.

    You are precious and although you do not mind being nipped it is not okay that you are getting nipped.

    And not minding is not useful..nipping is a very clear communication of distress or alarm. He is able and willing to have his shoes on. It is the transition that is the challenge for him.

    Good luck ....it is lovely to think of him being supported by someone reflecting on his needs and trying to figure things out for him on a Saturday afternoon.

    Best wishes
    Jo Grace
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I feel the frustration. I can't offer any easy solutions.
    Have you talked to the parents?
    Has he outgrown his shoes?
    Is there something in the shoes that's making him uncomfortable?
    Is there sensory overload round the feet that might be resolved with softer shoes?
    Laminated card with a picture of his shoes to warn him what's coming?
    Good luck
  4. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    How does he know it is the end of break? Is it because of a bell or something, or just because you tell him?

    Would bringing him in earlier make it easier to put shoes on?
  5. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Doing late night shopping last monday I heard a child crying. I found the young boy with his parents and soon discovered the back story. The boy wanted to go with his parents but refused to put his shoes on. His parents relented and allowed the boy to run barefoot in the store. Earlier in the day youths messing about had kicked some metal panels that exposed sharp metal edges that should have been cordoned off. The inevitable 'accident' happened and the boy left a fair amount of blood on the floor. A young female sales assistant used a pack of wipes and plasters from the store to clean the wound and stem the flow of blood from a foot that was described as 'grafted'. Whilst I was there I saw little evidence of first aid training being applied or accident recording ( an adult photographed the scene/injury).
  6. Hedgehog_

    Hedgehog_ New commenter

    this is exactly what worries me, aha. i'm a worrier by nature and there shouldn't be anything like that lying around in a school but i do worry that he's going to hurt his feet, or slip, or cause another injury.
  7. Hedgehog_

    Hedgehog_ New commenter

    i do bring him in early, when he has taken his shoes off, we go inside and put them on there. He will stay outside for some, not all, of break but while he is outside he will take off his shoes so then we go back inside. its no problem, but if he resisted then it would be. also, i know he is capable of putting his shoes on but wanted some strategies to try to prevent him from resorting to nipping/biting me and us having to go back inside. part of it seems to be attention/behavioural, we know that he 'knows' he isn't supposed to take his shoes off because he will look back at us while he's doing it so it's kind of rebellion almost, he does it when he's inside and once when he was about to go home, it took 20 minutes for his TA to get shoes on. yet i know there's always a reason behind behaviour so there must be some reason why he does it. i'll try some of the things suggested to better prepare for the transition.
  8. Hedgehog_

    Hedgehog_ New commenter

    this might sound obvious, but what transition do you mean? going back inside after being outside? or just the next activity after being outside? we don't go out for whole of the break. it's difficult to know whether it's to do with transition or whether he just does it because he simply decides he doesn't want his shoes on any more! (teachers think he has behaviour issues and doesn't have enough boundaries)
  9. barbaramcn

    barbaramcn New commenter

    I’m wondering if the first time taking shoes off outside was for attention and by preventing you from putting them back on he gets to go inside, getting 1:1 attention from you and sometimes additional attention? Is it his way of deciding when to go inside?
    Note how long he’s outside and what he’s doing before deciding to take his shoes off. If you can recognise those cues, maybe offer to go for a walk with him (outside if that’s where you want him to be) before he begins to remove them.
    Note, does he take shoes off when he’s enjoying doing an activity - a regular occurrence, habit, or at specific times only? It’s a good strategy to demand attention, whatever kind of attention he gets.
  10. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    I think Jo means any transition - from outside to inside, from one room to another, from one activity to another, from one place in the room to another (eg from work space to carpet time, moving from book corner to work area) All of these and many more changes can be incredibly stressful to someone autism. Preparing them for the move in the way she suggest can help them understand what is going to happen and adjust more slowly thus reducing the stress.

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