Jacob and Elijah Shaddox are brothers. Jacob is 21 years old and just moved into an apartment with his girlfriend. He graduated from a technical college with an Associate's degree in Computer Maintenance. He works for a school district as a computer technician. Elijah is almost 18 years old. He is hearing impaired, has Tourette Syndrome, OCD and ADHD. He is a junior in high school. Elijah lives with his mom Mary and her wife, his stepmom. Mary has a bachelor's in deaf education and a masters in special education, and is an educational diagnostician. Life is always changing and this blog has chronicled many of these changes and will continue to do so!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Teaching Elijah to Tie His Shoes

Elijah is 15 years old and up until yesterday did not know how to tie his shoes. How could this happen you wonder? When Jacob started kindergarten, we were told part of the curriculum was that he would need to learn to tie his shoes. We practiced at home and he practiced at school. He learned to tie his shoes and that was that.

When Elijah was born, there were other things to worry about and the least of my worries was him learning to tie his shoes. He spent four weeks in the NICU and then four weeks in the special care nursery. He came home on oxygen and stayed on oxygen for the next seven months. I spent the winter keeping him healthy and alive. From that point on the focus was on his lungs and his deafness. I was constantly taking care of him, Jacob, my husband, trying to work and trying to find answers on how to help Elijah.

Elijah started school at three in a deaf education preschool classroom in a district that was not in the city we lived in. He started in a signing classroom and then moved to an oral classroom. He had been implanted at 18 months and then in the middle of his second year of pre-k he got his second implant. My focus was still on his lungs as he could get sick quite quickly and on him learning to listen and speak.

Elijah started kindergarten in another district to receive services from a deaf education teacher in a deaf education classroom. Learning to tie his shoes was not on the curriculum and I didn't have time to teach him. This may sound like I was lazy, but that is far from the case. I had been taking him to auditory verbal therapy from the time he was 18 months old through 1st grade once week. His dad took him for another visit each week.  We needed time for therapy at home, homework, my prep for teaching and to hopefully have some fun in there somewhere. When Elijah was in 1st grade he started with occupational therapy for some fine motor issues. Learning to tie his shoes was not a priority. When we couldn't find Velcro shoes I bought LockLaces to uses in his shoes. He also gets frustrated really easily so it was just easier to use the LockLaces.

What has changed and why does Elijah need to learn to tie his shoes? Elijah wants to be in the ROTC this coming school year when he enters high school. Once he is fitted for his uniform he will be required to wear it once a week, and this means dress shoes. Thankfully, all of this is provided by the school at no cost, but he will need to know how to ties his shoes. I will leave in the morning before he is quite dressed and ready and my honey doesn't want to be tying the shoes of a 15 year old boy each morning who isn't always the most cooperative on a good day.

Elijah and I spent about 30 minutes yesterday working on him learning to tie his shoes, and me having to really refine the steps as I tie my shoes without even thinking. He stuck with it and by the end of the 30 minutes could tie a shoe with some prompts from me. We practiced again before he went to bed, again this morning and once again this afternoon. He can now tie a shoe but it still requires a great deal of concentration on his part. We will practice every day for the next three weeks and even after school starts. I am proud of him. It didn't take as long as I thought for him to be able to complete the steps and tie a shoe. Now he just needs to get it more automatic and refine his methods.

Oh and he is a lefty, so I had to tie a shoe using my left hand as my dominate hand....well that gave me some perspective, because I really had to THINK about how to tie the shoe when I was using my left hand.

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