When my daughter (who is diagnosed as having FASD) was in kindergarten we began trying to teach her how to tie her shoes. Everyone was involved, immediate family, school staff, and the occupational therapist at her therapy clinic. We kept trying various strategies all through grade school…to no avail. It was finally surmised that there were too many steps involved and too much right/left confusion, for her to be successful.
In those days we often participated in research studies done by college students for their theses. One such study was on the long and short term memory problems associated with FASD. The surprising conclusion was that there was no difference in the long and short term memory of children affected with FASD from typical children… BUT they did learn differently than others. My daughter’s strength was shown to be visual learning. When her OT saw the results of this study, she had an idea. She took one white shoelace and one black shoelace and tied them together at one end. She then put the knot at the bottom and laced her shoes…at the top, the right lace was white and the left lace was black. She then demonstrated to our daughter how to tie a bow. “Oh!” replied my daughter, “That is how you do it!”… and she promptly tied her shoes!
We then applied this concept to a variety of situations. i.e. She could never move in a zig-zag pattern through pylons…but when we attached numbered flags to the pylons, she did it correctly every time.
So, as my friend, Diane Malbin says, “try differently, not harder”.
Beaver Dam, WI