Saturday, August 24, 2013

Shoes, Instruments of Evil-Guest post from Kiley Quinn

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.


  1. There are a few kinds of shoe I can wear, which comes in handy, but... most of my clothes my mom bought the exact same thing in all the sizes from five-year-old me's size up to the biggest it ran, some of which I still wear. And if it's not a shoe I can wear, be prepared for mess. [By a few kinds I mean a couple different models of running sneaker and a couple different models of Tiva-style sandals.]

  2. Kiley - YOU CRACK ME UP! And in a good, educational, way. I will be thinking about talking Southern shoes for the rest of the day.

  3. When I find a shoe I like, I buy two pairs so that I have one pair for when the first ones break. I do the same with bras also. Basically, I try as much as possible not to shop, so I buy in bulk once and keep everything until it falls apart.

  4. Same here. Shoes are torture. But I wear men's shoes, instead of women's. They allow for better toewalking, I think.

  5. At least you don't have my problem -- I wear a 10 1/2 6E (or a 10 6E or 11 6E, depending on brand and the like).

    In practicality, this means that just about nobody carries my shoe size -- I either have to mail order them (what I did for the shoes I'm currently wearing) or settle for shoes that are too narrow.

  6. Here's something I heard a long time ago that really does seem to help. I was told that alternating 2 pair of shoes would allow them to rest between wearings and they'd last as long as 3 pair of shoes normally do. I always try to alternate the pairs. (I find it mentally uncomfortable when I'm travelling and can't take the second pair.)

    Shoes are a particular problem for my middle child, the poor dear. I have gotten good (but not great) at dodging when she kicks the offending (uncomfortable at that instant) shoe off. She did get me with an ice skate once. She loves to ice skate (Yay! we found a sport the entire family likes), but getting the skates comfortable is often challenging. When her feet stop growing so quickly, I want to get her her very own skates.

  7. Huzzah! I call shoes "foot prison." Shoes are gah. But I agree with K that you have the awesome!

  8. You definitely have the awesome!

    I am a shoe hater as well. When I finally find a pair that I like I will wear them until they fall apart, too. Shopping for shoes or any kind of clothing is a nightmare for me. I absolutely hate it. My guy tells me that he likes shopping with me because I know exactly what I want and I go get it and then get the heck out of the store. I don't like crowds either so I try to shop online for as much as possible.

  9. Yeah, I also end up buying the exact same type of shoes every few years. To get the only type of shoes that will fit comfortably I have to go to a wide-shoe specialty shop.