Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shoes with toes (and sensory requirements)

Vibram five fingers, and other minimalist footware have started to get common enough that a decent percentage of people know about shoes with toes existing, but few people I've talked to know why people use them (except that they're popular for running). When people see mine they often question how I like them if they've heard of them before, or look strangely at my feet in confusion.

I've warn five fingers almost exclusively since Christmas of last year when I got my first pair. In this period of time the only time I got close to hurting myself while walking was while I was wearing boots. Even walking on ice, if I slipped with these shoes, I was able to react without risking hurting myself at all, despite these having what people view as a sole that isn't grippy enough.

The reason is simple, these shoes let me feel the ground through them. Normal shoes, I'm walking on a platform that isn't actually on the ground and have no way of knowing what is going on under my feet through touch. I'd recommend these shoes to people in general for this reason, but would do so even stronger for people who, like me, need to put effort into managing sensory integration.

ASDs, do tend to come with sensory "issues" - hypersensitivity, hyposensitivity, integration issues, or so on. Beyond that, I also identify with SPD (despite not having been diagnosed with that) - Sensory Processing Disorder. For people with both an ASD and SPD the borderline between the two is incredibly blurred. Both ASDs and SPD however cause people to have different sensory requirements than the norm; hyposensitive or hypersensitive, and avoiding or seeking input, the requirements are different.

Personally, I'd consider myself hypersensitive (without question) and seeking (though I avoid things that are headache triggers). Despite hypertasting, spicy food is something I eat rather than avoid; despite hypersmelling, I'll use something that's 50% peppermint oil when someone else would use aromatherapy levels; despite hyperfeeling, I want the input of as much detail of what's under my feet as possible.

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