The Best Shoe Brands for Kids with Disabilities – Supportive Shoes with Extra Depth and Extra Padding!

Did you know that foot deformity, flat feet, and the use of ill-fitting footwear are common in children with special needs? It can be extremely challenging for parents of children with developmental disabilities to recognize foot problems, particularly when children can have difficulties with the recognition and expression of pain. The most common foot condition that children with developmental disabilities face is flat feet, followed by hypermobility and low muscle tone. I am going to show you a list of the best shoe brands for kids with disabilities based on my many years of shoe fitting experience.

I have noticed that children with special needs tend to have wide to extra wide feet, which makes it extra challenging for parents to find shoes that fit.

The Challenges of Finding Shoes for Kids with Disabilities

When parents come to the store, they explain to me the difficulties that they face with finding suitable footwear for their kids. Most of these parents didn’t know what features to look for when buying shoes. I understand that footwear fitting is a challenge, often constrained by limited size and width fittings available. The good news is that I know exactly which shoes are better for children with disabilities, and I will show them to you shortly.

Does Your Child Need to Wear Orthotics?

Most children with disabilities need to wear AFOs or a different type of orthotics inside their shoes. Whether your child needs to wear orthotics inside the shoes depends partly on the type of special need or disability your child might have, as well as its severity.

There are certain children’s shoe brands that have proven to be the most effective ones when it comes to fitting children with disabilities and their AFOs. I will describe these shoe brands shortly.

AFOs can work wonders for children with disabilities, as long as they are fitting in the correct type of shoes. The correct type of orthotics can help treat and prevent most foot problems such as flat feet, hypermobility, and low muscle tone. Orthotics also allow a child to exercise and engage in everyday activities comfortably without any secondary injuries.

One common question that a lot of parents seem to have is whether their children with special needs are going to need to wear orthotics for the rest of their lives. I usually respond with the following analogy: Just as eyeglasses don’t change a child’s eye but help prevent further eye problems, the correct type of orthotics help prevent further foot damage and slow down the progression of the pathology.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best shoe brands for kids with disabilities.

What Are the Best Shoe Brands for Kids with Disabilities?

My go-to shoe brands for children with disabilities are:

➡️ New Balance

➡️ Billy

➡️ See Kai Run

➡️ Stride Rite

➡️ Tsukihoshi

These shoe brands have proven to be the most effective ones as they manufacture a couple of shoe styles that are available in extra wide (XW), provide extra depth, and rounder toe-boxes. The shoes also provide targeted cushion and support to important areas of the foot such as below the arch and around the ankles.

What Makes the Shoes that I Recommend Effective for Kids with Disabilities?

Let’s visualize the features that the shoes that I recommend provide:

1️⃣ Extra Depth: Shoes that provide extra depth allow the feet to fit deeply inside the shoes and prevent giving the child the impression that the feet are coming out of the shoes. This feature is particularly important for children who wear AFOs or orthotics, as these devices tend to raise the feet. Let me show you the difference between a New Balance shoe that provides extra depth versus another shoe that doesn’t. For better visualization purposes, there is an orthotic fitted inside the shoes:

2️⃣ Rounder Toe-Boxes: Shoes that provide rounder toe-boxes help prevent the child’s toes from rubbing against one another or the side of the shoes. If your child wears AFOs it’s important that the shoes provide rounder toe-boxes to prevent the orthotics from poking a hole through the shoes. Let’s take a look at the difference between a shoe that provides a rounder toe-box versus one that doesn’t:


3️⃣ Substantial Outsoles: This feature minimizes the impact that your child’s feet take when they come in contact with the ground. Let me show you the difference between a shoe that provides a substantial outsole versus one that doesn’t:


4️⃣ Oversized Openings: This feature allows parents to easily slide their children’s feet inside the shoes so they don’t have to struggle every time they have to put the shoes on and off:

Are You 100% Sure of Your Child’s Foot Size? – Let’s Find Out!

Before I show you a selection of the best shoes for kids with disabilities, I want to make sure that you are 100% sure of your child’s foot size. You can’t possibly order the correct shoe size online if you don’t know your child’s foot size is to begin with.

Let’s start by checking if you don’t have a good-fitting children’s shoe store in your area. I created a resource that describes the best-fitting children’s shoe stores by state.

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

If after looking at that resource you still can’t seem to find a store in your area, then proceed to take a look at a different article I wrote where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s exact foot size from home.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at a selection of the best shoes for kids with disabilities. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

The shoes I review are the ones I have fitted before, as that is the only way for me to tell how well-made the shoes are, the amount of support that they provide, and how they fit. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. 

Best Shoes for Kids with Disabilities

These are the most supportive, deepest shoes with rounder toe-boxes that are available in medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW).

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

If none of these shoes are available in your child’s shoe size or if you need the shoes to be made of a specific color don’t hesitate to email me at:

[email protected]

If your child wears a pair of AFOs or orthotics inside the shoes, then I highly recommend that you provide your child with a whole size longer, which translates to 0.6 inches or 14 centimeters of space between your child’s longest toe and the end of the shoes.

Another extra feature that I forgot to mention is how all of these shoes come with extra padding around the heel area, which will not only help cushion the area and prevent your child from getting blisters, but will also add a level of comfort to your child’s feet:

These shoes are the most appropriate ones for children with foot conditions such as flat feet, hypermobility, or low muscle tone. The biggest issue with having any of these conditions is that they can shift your child’s body out of alignment and affect your child’s overall posture.

When foot posture is not in alignment then your child’s body has to recruit more muscles for each movement, which leads to an increase in muscle fatigue, tightness and strain. To prevent this compensation from happening, certain shoes will help realign your child’s feet. However, don’t take my word for it, let me prove it to you!

Children with Disabilities – What a Difference a Shoe Makes!

Let’s take a look at a picture of a flat-footed child with low muscle tone standing barefoot. Do you notice how the feet are collapsing and turning inwards?


Now let’s take a look at an image of the same child wearing a pair of supportive shoes. Do you notice how straighter the feet are?


Let’s see what happens if we happen to fit that same child in a pair of unsupportive shoes. Do you notice how the child’s feet are collapsing and turning inwards?


The difference that a pair of shoes can make in a child’s life is really quite shocking.

Not all parents realize that putting a child in ill-fitting shoes can damage their health in later life. I always recommend parents to be proactive and don’t take the “wait and see approach” when it comes to treating their children’s foot conditions. Leaving your children’s foot conditions untreated can only lead to the condition getting worse.

Always check your children’s feet for irritation to identify problems during the break-in period of the shoes and the orthotics.

If your child happens to wear a pair of orthotics or AFOs inside the shoes, please don’t forget to remove the original insoles of the shoes before placing the orthotics.

What is your favorite shoe brand for your child with disabilities? Please share your experiences below so other parents can benefit from them.