Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shoelace tying - this approach worked

This worked.

More than coordination or sequencing or geometry, the problem is frustration and discouragement. The key is to drop the skill down to something that is sure to work, then succeed at that, then add another skill. If failure occurs drop back a skill level. When a skill level is secure, move up.
  1. We practiced with a shoe on his leg, and good lace length.
  2. A practice session of ten tie-related acts earned 10 min of screen time (Wii, web, game).
  3. I started out holding one lace, looping the other one over it, and then my son had only to pull the second lace through.
  4. Then we graduated to the bottom tie.
  5. Then I would do the bottom tie and I would hold two loops, positioning one so it had only to be pulled through the other. (For a while I used thread to bind the loops. That was useful as well.)
  6. Then I would hold only one loop.
  7. Then he started tying the loops.
  8. Then he did the entire tie.
  9. Then he started working with the shoe on his lap.
  10. Lastly with the shoe on his foot.
In retrospect, this seems blindingly obvious. In reality we flailed around with this for years; if we'd started out this way we could have succeeded long ago. We'd left this task largely to the therapists that were supposed to know how to teach it, but in the end we had to develop our own curriculum. Not the first time for that.

The training approach has other applications.

PS. I owe this training methodology to Steve Yelon of MSU's OMERAD program. He developed this approach when doing skills teaching for the US Secret Service.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi: I read your blog often (I commented last time from Kenya). Back stateside now. We also need to teach our son to tie his shoelaces, so will try your approach (chunking and proximal skills), then report back! As you said, sounds blindingly obvious when laid out like this.