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"I don't want to wear my AFOs!"

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"I don't want to wear my AFOs!"

Some kids fall in love with their SMOs / AFOs right away.
More confidence. Better stability. New freedom. What’s not to like?

For others… it takes some getting used to. That’s ok. It’s a big adjustment. But when the war over SMOs goes on and on and on, many parents are at a loss for what to do next.

If you’re stuck, here are a few ideas that may help:
• Remember to follow the schedule your orthotist outlined
• Use a reward system instead of treating the SMOs as a punishment
• Create a daily routine around them the same way you do socks and shoes
• Get vinyl stickers to let your child customize and take more ownership of the braces

What your child says can also be a clue about the true heart of the problem.

“They hurt.”
This is a huge red flag.
SMOs may feel a little different at first, but they should never hurt. Keep an eye out for blisters and red spots. If the redness doesn’t go away within 20 minutes of taking the braces off, call your orthotist. It’s time to schedule a fit check.

Also, be sure to always wear socks with the AFOs / SMOs. You don’t want them to bunch or wrinkle. And swap the socks out when they get sweaty.


“The other kids don’t understand.”
Words like hypotonia, pronation, and proprioception probably aren’t in your child’s vocabulary. And even if they were, it’s hard to make other kids understand.

One option is to go to your child’s school and put on a mini-presentation for the class. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply passing the braces around for them to touch and ask questions may be enough to satisfy that curiosity.

And for those with stage fright, you could ask your orthotist or physical therapist.

You may also encourage your child to take ownership of his or her braces by starting the conversation. One child described his SMOs as bulletproof socks. He took what made him different and turned it into something special. Other kids get jealous that they were wearing boring, regular socks.

“No one else wears them.”
Chances are your child will be the only one in the neighbourhood or classroom rockin’ SMOs / AFOs. And that can be isolating.
Does your child have a favorite doll, stuffed animal, or teddy bear? Throw on an outgrown pair of SMOs. Carrying around something that “looks like me” can help them from feeling alone.

But for older kids, a toy probably won’t cut it. They want to see other kids who wear braces, too. Show pictures, find friends to connect with who also wear AFOs and remind your child she isn’t the only one.

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