I didn’t ever see myself creating the best solution for children learning to tie their shoes. During my final year in college I began working in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. I didn’t have much knowledge in the field nor did I completely understand all of the different areas of special needs but I knew that I would learn to love my job.
I began teaching students self-help skills such as buttoning shirts, brushing teeth, and tying their shoes. I was shocked to discover how so many children of different ages struggled with everyday tasks that we take for granted.
I was determined to be as effective as possible to help change the young lives of these children. I began collecting and comparing my data and doing my own research. I asked a lot of questions to parents and my colleagues.
When comparing my data with my colleagues, all of it matched and the scores showed how shoe tying was the one task a majority of the students struggled with.
I learned that in most cases the students on the autism spectrum or with Down syndrome lacked the fine motor skills to perform these tasks. I’ve seen their efforts and know that they wanted to learn to tie their shoes just like everybody else.
A majority of the students wore slip on shoes or Velcro shoes because they didn’t know how to tie. They were very smart and well aware that their shoes were different from other kids their age.
I was determined to solve this issue and figure out a way that my students can have the same shoes as anyone else.
Just the accomplishment of one step of the shoe-tying process built their confidence up just to have it all knocked down when they failed on the next step.
I researched the market and found a few shoe tying tools. All of them didn’t make learning or tying any easier, they were just riddles to say while you tie or floppy useless strings attached to books.
I felt their frustration, there had to be a way to make this easier for them. Then, I had an idea. I learned that their lack of fine motor skills gave them trouble keeping the shoe-tying process going. The laces always flopped out of shape and left them to start all over again only for it to happen again and again.
I began designing the perfect shoelaces to solve the problem. I crafted shoelaces by hand built with a malleable wire-like substance that held shape as the students tied their shoes. It was instant success! On their first try they were successfully tying their shoes! I was so excited for them.
The boost in their confidence, the determination to take on all tasks, the smiles on their face when they wore their first pair of sneakers! My students’ scores began to skyrocket, not only in shoe-tying but in all self-help tasks.
It was like a miraculous shoelace that gave them the confidence to take on the world. I began packaging them and taking them to as many autism walks, Special Olympic events, and anywhere that I can find someone that I can help change their life. The demand was so high that I had to get a small manufacturer to help me make the Rocket Laces just to keep up.
I called them Rocket Laces because the results were rocket high and their potential was out of this world. I started my own website www.SprinkCreative.com and offered Rocket Laces to everyone that can benefit from them. Since then, the growth has been phenomenal and we are now helping kids learn to tie their shoes everywhere from physical therapist’s offices to classrooms. I hope that all kids that struggle with this problem can discover these life changing Rocket Laces.
Matthew Aguirre worked at a behavioral center for children with special needs, where he helped his students learn life skills. Aguirre started out making the shoelaces after school during his free time, giving away the product to people he thought would benefit from them. Now, he sells them online through a website www.SprinkCreative.com. Autism research company, www.AutismAdvancements.com endorse Rocket Laces and for every four pairs purchased, Autism Advancements donates one to a child in need.
Maria Shriver, whose mother founded Special Olympics, helped Sprink Creative distribute laces to athletes at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Sprink Creative sponsored six countries.
He hopes every child, regardless of ability, can learn to tie their shoes. “It gives them a new confidence,” Aguirre.
This article was featured in Issue 48 – Connecting and Communicating with Autism