shoes pictured: See Kai Run Kids Peyton (Black Leather)
Finding shoes for your child should be easy-breezy, but when your child wears orthotics it feels more like an impossible scavenger hunt. Many of the options that are available are listed as “specialty” shoes so that automatically means they are going to cost way more and usually they don’t even have a wide range of colors and styles to chose from.
It’s not about vanity, it’s about inclusion. Is it reasonable to expect able-bodied individuals to have to struggle to find shoes? Then it shouldn’t be reasonable to all that to continue to happen to people with disabilities.
My goal with this post is to make it continuous and add shoes that have worked out for us as well as shoes that have received great reviews from others. The whole point is to make it so much easier to buy shoes for all people (toddlers-adults).
***It’s important to note that this post is NOT sponsored. I also want to make clear that regardless of sponsorship or not, everything I share is and will always be 100% my honest opinion with the full intent to build up, support, and educate others within the disability community.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR
This is probably the most important part and the reason why so many shoes don’t fit – they aren’t wide enough. Often times parents have to go 2 or 3 sizes up just to get shoes that are wide enough to fit over the AFO, but then are too long. Look for shoes that are listed as wide or extra wide.
You have your basic velcro, laces, and elastic. But there are now options that include zipper or a combination of the previously mentioned. Take into consideration your child’s fine motor skills in order to make putting on shoe simply and not an additional stressor while getting ready for the day.
Material of the overall shoe is important in terms of longevity. Giselle’s most efficient form of transportation is crawling and knee walking, which means her shoes are dragging on the floor a large portion of the day. We are at the point that if we can want to buy shoes that will last longer than a few weeks, we have to stick to leather and a shoe with a rubber toe cap.
After buying whichever shoe you decide on, remove the insert and throw it away lol. You don’t need it as the AFO provides all the support the feet require and the insert just gets in the way of the shoe fitting properly.
AFO-FRIENDLY SHOE LIST
(Everything in ORANGE is a clickable link)
Champion Gusto Cross Trainer (Toddler – Adult sizes available)
These shoes run wide and are a great lightweight and durable option for AFO-friendly athletic shoes. They are also affordable, which is a major plus.
Tailored Tots (Toddler shoes available)
These fun moccasins are an adorable option and unlike most traditional infant/toddler options, they have a hard rubber sole which provides a much needed grip for walking. The only note to mention is that once Giselle was busy crawling sitting and wiggling around, the shoes did tend to slip, but they are great for when she was much younger.
See Kai Run (Toddler – Youth sizes available)
These are our personal favorites and ones we have talked about often both here on the blog and my social media. Their shoes are wide and have a great variety of colors and styles of sneakers, including water shoes and winter boots. You can read more about our favorite style on a review I wrote HERE.
Shoes for AFO’s by Gracious May (Toddler – Adult women sizes available *custom* )
Known for their popular moccasin-inspired fringe boots, Gracious May has created a new line that custom makes shoes to fit over AFO’s. They are very stylish and range from toddler to their new option that extends to women sizes. They also offer brown leather sneakers and and boots for boys.
Billy Shoes (sizes Toddler – Adult sizes available)
The uber-popular Billy Shoes has taken the Internet by storm with their easy zipper option that makes it so incredibly easy to put on. Shoes also range from toddler to adult.
Stride Rite (sizes Toddler – Big Kid sizes available )
These shoes come in wide and extra wide shoes, which is really helpful in fitting over AFO’s, especially for younger kids. A hack we did with these when Giselle was very young was we took the shoes to a tailor and they elongated the strap for us to make the velcro fit. The overall shoe fit nicely over Giselle’s SMO’s at the time.
Plae (Toddler – Adult sizes available)
These shoes come in a wide variety of playful colors and styles, along with different strap sizes to basically customize the fit, which obviously makes it very adaptable for AFO’s.
Converse (Toddler – Adult / adaptive styles toddler/kid only)
Many families have used traditional converse to fit over AFO’s but Converse also offers other styles that lend themselves to be more adaptive, including the Converse Kids Chuck Taylor All Star Pull-Zip – Hi (Little Kid/Big Kid), and the Converse Kids’ Chuck Taylor All Star Easy Slip High Top Sneaker. The only problem is that these styles can be tricky to find so your best bet is to search Zappos or Amazon to snag a pair. You can read more about the pair we have in a previous review on the blog HERE.
Crocs (Toddler – Adult sizes available)
These shoes are great water play shoes that provide that crucial width that’s needed to fit nicely over AFO’s. They are also light weight, which can make it easier for individuals with limited mobility.
Nike Flyease (Toddlers – Adult sizes available)
These shoes provide such an easy, one-handed zipper closure option, which is a similar feature that Billy shoes offers. Great option for an AFO-friendly athletic shoe.
Zappos Adaptive (Toddler – Adult sizes available)
This is a great hub for different brands and styles and it’s not limited to just shoes, but to adaptive clothing as well. It’s a great starting point when looking for a variety of different options.
New Balance KJ990 Lace-Up Running Shoe (Toddler – Adult sizes available)
While we haven’t personally purchased and used New Balance shoes, we have heard great things from many people in terms of fit and ease. It’s another option for a great athletic shoe.
Sure Step (Toddler size 3 – Youth 12)
Sure step not only provides a large variety of orthotic, but also provide orthotic friendly shoes, so your sure to find the perfect fit.
Hatchback Footwear (Toddler – Youth sizes available)
These shoes are specifically made for orthotics, which is hinged and opens from the back to provide an easy fit.
This is an easy hack to make both typical rubber rain boots and Ugg-type boots adaptive. Simply cut a slit down the back of the rain boot and now you have made the boot wide enough to fit over the AFO.
I hope you have found this post helpful and as I mentioned before, my hope is to update this post every time I find or hear about great options (for toddlers and adults). It’s about accessibility and taking the stress out of what should be a simple thing as shopping for shoes. If you have any suggestions/recommendations please feel free to share. You can follow more reviews on AFO-friendly shoes on Instagram @thespeciallifeofus and clicking on the hashtag #GisellesShoes