Putting on socks

Learning to put on socks in a timely manner after PE lesson at school

Larry, (aged 6 years) his mom and teacher, have all identified putting on socks in a timely manner when changing after a PE lesson as one of the problems to be addressed in Larry's therapy sessions. Now that he has new shoes with a hook and loop fasteners, putting on his shoes is not a problem anymore. 

Larry's teacher has noted that Larry gets distracted by the other children when getting dressed after PE. 

Observing Larry putting on his knee high school socks when sitting on a chair, she notices the following:

  • Larry has difficulty holding his foot steady when he starts to pull the sock over the foot. He also has difficulty getting the toes into the opening of the sock.
  • He also seems to have problems gripping the socks firmly as he pulls then up over his heel, seems to loose his grip frequently.
  • Larry also seems to have a problem reaching his foot easily when reaching forwards to put the sock over his foot. He rests his foot on the edge of the chair, but it slips off repeatedly.See here for a video of a typically developing 7 year old putting on socks.

Exploring constraints - adapting the task  

Larry puts his socks on sitting on the floor.  In this adapted starting position Larry manages to keep his foot in place, reaches his foot easily to pull the sock over the foot, which is now stable. 

Larry is shown how the fold the sock so that the foot part is inserted into the leg part of the sock. This provides a firmer hole to grasp and makes is easier to get the foot into the sock. It also means that a less strong grip is needed to pull the whole length of the sock over the foot. 

Larry puts on his socks against the clock. Larry is timed putting on his socks when sitting on the chair. He is then encouraged to do this another time and beat his previous time.  Timing him putting on his socks improves his focus on the task and seems to provide a good incentive. 

Additional assessments

As part of Larry's initial overall assessment range of movement and grip strength were assessed.

The following impairments were identified that may have an impact on his ability to put on his socks: 

Identified constraints

Intervention plan 

Managing impairments

Adapted task training 

Home program


Task analysis - Putting on socks with video clips