Kiley Quinn is an autistic adult in an all autistic household. She told Neurodivergent K that she lacks awesomeness, but K disagrees.
I do not like shoes. I find it baffling when I enter a home and see a small mountain of sandals, boots, heels, and athletic cross trainers. After all, most people I’ve surveyed have two feet or fewer and don’t possess the ability to wear multiple pairs at a time. Upon receiving a pair of shoes as a gift, I have been known to cry, explain at length what is wrong with them, and then go into a full meltdown before hiding the offending objects. I don’t “do” surprises, am not a big fan of change, and the sensory challenges of a bad pair of shoes are unbearable. I realize that this is the behavior of a small child, but well, I am like your child. And I’m a grown up sized Mommy in (roughly) size tens.
If the shoe is poorly padded or has a thin sole, I can feel every variant in the concrete surface of the sidewalk like needles in my foot. Then I have to wonder if there’s enough room in the shoe to allow for adding thick pads or if my toes will be crushed by that modification. If the back is poorly padded, I will have blisters within one wearing. Maybe you wouldn’t get blisters, but then again, you probably walk the “right” way.
If my foot slides from side to side within the shoe, my dyspraxic body is convinced that I’m going to fall, even if the problem is marginal. If my foot slides forward, I probably will fall. I’m a person who broke her foot simply walking up the stairs, after all. (I possess special non-marketable talents.)
The shoe has to be constructed in such a way to allow bending for toe walking and to tolerate the increased pressure without immediately splitting. Even if they don’t last, they feel better broken in. We tend to wear shoes long past their expiration date. I have seen more than one autistic adult with shoes duct taped together after the soles have separated from the tops. I’m married to one. An adult, not a shoe covered in duct tape.
My kids usually don’t need to tape their shoes because their feet grow so fast. I admit to trying super glue once. I get my girls one pair of athletic shoes each. I can tell by sticking my hand in to feel the padding (sometimes followed by waving them around and making them talk in a southern accent) if they’ll be just right, and we tweak the size from there. Assuming that the store carries a generous variety of sizes, shoe shopping only takes about ten minutes. Then there was that one time they wanted clogs, and I opted to tell them that the store ran out of shoes. That saved lots of time.
Somehow over the years I have accumulated more than one pair of shoes, but I go to the same store every couple of years to buy the same kind when the previous falls apart. If the shoemaker changed the style, I consider it an early sign of the apocalypse.
In summary, a poorly fitted pair of shoes is a torture device equivalent to the iron maiden or the modern bra-- but that’s a story for another time.