Imagine with me, for a second, that you’re going shoe shopping. You want to find a good, affordable pair of shoes that fit and look nice too.
If you’re average – say a US Women’s Size 7 or 8, you can walk into almost any shoe store and expect to find something that could work.
In fact, you may find multiple pairs, may have dozens or more at home to choose from.
Now imagine that your feet aren’t an “average” size. Let’s say that you wear a size 12 Women’s shoe. And not only that, but your feet are extra narrow as well.
Clearly, you didn’t choose your shoe size. There was nothing you did to influence either the length or width of your feet, and there’s really nothing you can do to change it.
It’s going to be much harder to find shoes. Period. Shoes you like – that feel comfortable, and that are your style… even more elusive. You can’t just go to the local store and expect to find a selection.
You might be lucky enough to live in a large city with a specialty shoe store, to know a cobbler, or to have friends or family with similar issues who have already found what works for them, but if not…. the search begins.
Online orders. Returns when they aren’t right or as described.
Eventually, you may give up and just start wearing something close, even if it’s uncomfortable. We know that wearing the wrong shoe can damage your foot. You may choose to make your own, or to go barefoot as much as possible, because it’s so uncomfortable….
But then. Then you stumble upon the perfect pair of shoes. You find out where they’re from, that they have a wide selection of 12AAA, and you FINALLY have comfortable shoes that you enjoy wearing.
It makes a world of difference. You had no idea how uncomfortable the other shoes were, how much they were hurting your feet, until you find the right fit.
This is what our 2e (twice exceptional) kids deal with on a daily basis, trying to find social opportunities, clubs, activities, and school settings that “fit” their individual needs.
Some settings are rigid. They don’t fit. It’s obvious right away, totally uncomfortable, and our kids start acting out, refusing to go, and in other ways communicating that it’s a damaging environment.
Other settings are more flexible. There’s space for our kids to breathe. They may not exactly fit, but it’s ok, because there’s wiggle room.
Some settings seem like they might be a good fit, start out fine, but after a while they start to hurt – something’s not supported the way it should be, or there’s pressure in the wrong spot. Sigh. Time to try again.
And then… there’s the holy grail. The fit we’re all hoping for but not sure we’ll ever find.
I’m here to encourage you to keep searching. Keep putting yourself out there, trying new things, talking to people, asking questions.
Our kids will come alive as they have never before when they finally find their niche, finally find people who are on the same wavelength, with similar interests, who respond to conversation with conversation rather than the “you’re so smart” excuse of a response. People who inspire and motivate rather than constrain and frustrate.
I’m not saying you just bounce from one thing to the next. If you think it’s promising, give it time, talk to the organizers, see what happens, but if there’s something that is causing your kid damage, run the other way. Drop out of the club, switch school situations, change your routine. It could be that it doesn’t fit… yet. Feet grow. Kids grow and change too. It could be that it fits now but won’t forever.
Don’t be afraid to advocate for your kid, to keep looking. Don’t give up hope – there is, somewhere, a shoe that fits.