April 2006 - Volume III - Issue IV

ADHD - Learning to tie my shoes at age 53

Statement: My intent in this newsletter is to express as quickly as possible my own beliefs and opinions on matters. I have no problems with people who disagree with my opinion and have even been swayed to rethink my position from time to time. We are still taking book orders for my new book "ADHD and The Criminal Justice System" and you can get my author's discount from this link http://www.addcorridorcoaching.com/book.asp

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I recall vividly in my old memories it being May of 1958 and being in my last few weeks of kindergarten and still struggling to learn to tie my shoes. I was the last person in my class of 39 kids who had yet to master this requirement of kindergarten and was getting desperate. My best friend helped me for about a week and I finally seemed to have it solved and it looked to the eye to be correct.

As I continued to work on it my speed and comfort with doing it also increased and I also felt the knot becoming tighter and more secure. Everything seemed on the surface to be fine except that I always seem to find my shoelaces untied. I learned the technique of double knotting them, which helped but just seemed to delay the inevitable loose or untied shoelace problem, which continued on through my adult lifetime.

Much to my frustration and sometimes embarrassment I would was constantly finding my shoes untied. About a month ago in late March of 2006 while at a dance with my wife and finding my shoes untied once again for about the fourth time in the last hour even though I double knotted them I told my wife I was so mad that I was always struggling with this issue. She asked me to untie them and slowly go through the shoe tying technique I used while she watched. As I did so the first time she stated, “I think you are tying them backwards?” I responded, “What do you mean backwards?” She asked me to untie them and do it again even slower and so I began to tie my shoes as I had done so for the last 48 of my 53 years. Suddenly she yelled “Stop right there” and she informed me that I was wrapping the shoestring incorrectly around the first loop I had formed instead of pulling the loop through underneath.

I don't expect you to understand this subtle difference by me writing about it but I knew immediately when she explained the difference and also felt immediately the knot seemed more secure.

I then came to the uncomfortable realization that after all of these years of tripping over them, stepping on the opposite shoes string, being told by family, friends and sometimes even strangers that my shoes were untied I had never actually successfully completed my kindergarten requirement. Furthermore all these years of frustration could have been avoided if I had asked for help earlier in life.

I had really never thought to ask anyone to review my technique because the shoes, when I finished tying them, appeared to look the same as anyone else’s to the eye.

To come to this experience at age 53 that I was just now learning to tie my shoes correctly was both humbling and at the same time a valuable life lesson: that sometimes is all we need is some small changes in how we do things to improve our quality of life.

When it comes to ADHD I have always had a sense, a feeling, or the thought in my head that when it came to some of my weaknesses there was a only a small step or fine line adjustment I needed to make to get where I needed to be. Unfortunately these small steps are both elusive to come by and rare in occurrence.

My experience just a few weeks ago that you can teach an old dog new tricks has been a blessing in more ways than just not having to be constantly retying my shoes. It has given me renewed hope for the future that we should never stop learning and never stop being open to change and improvement in our seemingly mundane everyday lives.

I am positively sure that there are one or two of you (maybe hundreds) that have had problems keeping your shoes tied. I know this because I have talked to others with ADHD in the past that had this problem and also seen kids and adults who walk around all the time with their shoelaces dragging along side of them. Perhaps their error in technique was wrong in a different way than mine; I don't know for sure but I know they are out there. Maybe now I can offer them some help and so can you.

As I said trying to put the correct way in writing is beyond my skills so all I am asking is if you have this problem or know of someone who does is to ask for help or offer your help to them. Unless you have this problem yourself you might think it is a pretty minor matter but believe me it makes a lot of difference to those like me.

I still am in the process of unlearning my old bad habit and have to remember when putting on my shoes that I need to force myself to focus on the task and make the still somewhat unnatural procedure of bringing the loop through underneath. I have more than once looked down to find my shoes untied and quickly realized I had unconsciously reverted to my old ways. So hope this has helped a few of you and given some hope to others about small changes being so important. Good luck to all of you.

Talk to you next month
Patrick Hurley

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Author's Bio: 

17 years as Deputy Sheriff (Lieutenant), 5 years as Adult Probation/Parole Officer, 3 years as ADHD Life Skills Coach.Co-Author "ADHD and the Criminal Justice System"