Kayla can not yet tie her shoes.
Disclosure: Do not read this to mean all people with Down syndrome can't tie shoes. I know children with Down syndrome who are younger than Kayla and have mastered tying their shoes.
Truth is we probably haven't been as diligent about teaching Kayla to tie her shoes as we should have/could have been. It's not that we haven't tried, maybe just not hard enough.
She has tried learning to tie her shoes, but it's just not clicking yet for her brain and hands and fingers to all work together. She has shorter thumbs and the laces don't seem to stay wrapped around her thumb long enough to get the lace through it.
We tried using Youtube for videos since she's very visual that way. I stumbled on a new-to-me way to tie shoes - the "1 second way" (this isn't the video I saw the first time, but there are several out there). Lucas now ties his shoes this way. Kayla's fine motor skills just aren't there yet.
It was easier to rely on velcro shoes as a crutch. Velcro shoes gave her independence. But the issue became her obsession to pull the straps on and off multiple times before she was satisfied with how they felt -whatever it was she was looking for. The problem with that became the velcro wore off long before the sneakers wore out, but rendered the sneakers useless.
We just started using Elastolaces - No Tie Shoe Lock Laces. These were designed with the runner in mind, the elderly, and young children. These also work great for kids like Kayla, who have dexterity issues with tying shoes. It comes with the elastic laces and extra clips. Simply thread the laces into the clip and then pull the round piece to the shoe to tighten it and pull it out to loosen it. Since the laces are a bit long we do tuck it under the top lace of her shoe so it's not flopping around.
It did take Kayla several tries to figure out how to use it correctly, and if you pull too hard the clip can pop off, but Kayla can use these just fine now. Her shoelaces don't come undone and she doesn't have to ask anyone for help in tying her shoes. She seems to like using these especially since she can continue to be independent with her shoes.
I still aim to have her learn to tie her shoes, because I think learning to tie is an important skill, but while we work on that I'm glad to have this solution for her to use in the mean time!
I received this product for free from Underdown; all opinions are my own. And Kayla's.