Noticing Early Warning Signs Of Autism
Everyone tells us not to compare our child with others, whether to our own or someone elses children, but how can we say we dont notice any differences, if were really being honest? We cant just ignore their development and tell ourselves, Theyll talk when theyre ready and similar statements. Sure, every baby is different, and some develop more quickly or slowly for non-concerning reasons. How are we supposed to know when to worry?
The key here is looking for a pattern. If your child does one or two things that seem a bit strange to you, that may not necessarily be reason to send up red flags. On the other hand, if you are noticing that your baby isnt hitting multiple milestones, or has several very strange behaviors, thats a good reason to check in with their pediatrician. Here are some of the common early warning signs of autism to be watching for around 12-18 months and beyond.
Walking On The Toes Or The Balls Of The Feet Also Known As Toe Walking Is Fairly Common In Children Who Are Just Beginning To Walk
This means it can be harder to tell youâre autistic if youâre a woman. What are some early signs of autism in toddlers? More than half of young children who toe walk will stop doing so on their own by about age 5. Toe walking is quite common in children 3 and under but, when seen in children 5 years or older, could be a sign of a neurological immaturity. I went to an awesome course a few years ago it depends.
Hand Flapping: Should I Be Worried Does It Only Happen With Autism
As a parent, you have an Eagle eye for any new behavior that your child starts doing. If that behavior is hand flapping, youve come to the right place.
Hand flapping is a form of stimming that kids do to calm down, self-soothe, or regulate their bodies. Its common when kids are excited, nervous, anxious, or having any other type of high emotion state. It can also become a habit.
Hand flapping or, arm flapping, has become one of the more popularly recognized signs of autism. As with any concept that becomes well known, we have to deal with both the positives and negatives of it.
We also have to deal with the confusion.
In one sense, its great that the potential signs of autism are becoming more widely known.
Three cheers for autism awareness!
In another sense, assuming that hand flapping=autism is too simplistic and ignores the nuances behind the behavior. In all the confusion, the #1 question becomes when should I worry?
So, youre a parent of a child and you see them starting to flap their hands. Given everything youve heard about hand flapping from the media and greater society, you start to panic.
What does this mean?
Lets dig in to what hand flapping is and whether your should be worried.
As we move forward, please keep in mind that this is general information and is not specific to your own kiddo. If you have any concerns or questions about your childs unique situation, please reach out to their pediatrician or occupational therapist.
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Why Does A Child Toe Walk
There are a few reasons why a child may walk on his or her toes past the toddler stage. First, toe walking may be due to underlying muscle weakness, neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy or balance difficulties. Ive also heard of toe walking running in families. Additionally, toe walking may be related to difficulties with sensory processing. This is likely going to be a reason behind toe walking in children on the autism spectrum.
How Is Toe Walking Diagnosed
The doctor will talk to the parents about the childs medical history and will conduct a physical examination. As part of the physical exam, the doctor will observe how the child walks, and look for any problems with the childs feet or legs.
In some cases, doctors perform simple neurological tests to see if the child has a problem with his or her nervous system. These tests may include checking the childs reflexes, measuring the ability to feel sensations on his or her arms or legs, and testing muscle strength.
It Distracts From A Larger Concern
If you have toe-walking associated with another disorder, then missing out on getting that disorder getting treated is the bigger worry. Toe-walking can be the tip of an iceberg because it’s easy to see. But, what’s more important is the part of the iceberg that’s under the surface. For some kids, it may autism, for other kids, it may be cerebral palsy or another disorder – and those concerns need to be addressed as a whole.
What Is Toe Walking Is It Normal
Toe walking is fairly self-explanatory as a concept: it describes a child walking on their tippy-toes, without the heel making contact with the ground at each step.
Toe walking is common in children, and usually occurs until the ages of 2 or 3 years old. If toe walking continues past 3 years of age, its often no more than a harmless habit the child has taken toidiopathic in medical terms.
According to a 2012 Swedish study, most children stop toe walking by the age of 5, and most children who toe walk do not have any related developmental or neuropsychiatric issues.
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How To Help A Child Who Toe Walks
There are some ways to encourage children to walk in a typical way. But Dusing notes that your run-of-the-mill physical therapy isnt going to cut it. Kids dont generally get excited about doing reps to make their feet stronger and more flexible. It has to be fun, Dusing notes. The way well tell parents to do that is use obstacle courses.
She suggests encouraging a kid to walk on ramps, in particular, to help a child start to use their heels. Ramps are difficult to toe walk on, so children are more likely to use flat feet. Some parents may even use a wedge in places where a child might otherwise use a step stool.
That said, for typically-developing children who occasionally toe-walk, the practice will resolve itself in time. Still, parents who remain worried should not hesitate to contact their pediatrician for guidance.
When To Be Concerned
Parents should be concerned when there are other problems along with the toe-walking that interfere with normal two or three-year-old behaviors. Ask yourself:
- Is my child having problems in other areas of life?
- What other behavioral concerns does your child exhibit beyond the toe-walking?
- Do these behaviors negatively impact my child’s daily life?
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Is Walking On Tip Toes A Sign Of Adhd
The researchers concluded that children with ADHD have an increase in idiopathic toe walking and Achilles shortening, especially if they presented with a social communication disorder or a family history of toe walking. It is helpful when idiopathic toe walking is diagnosed early in order to begin effective treatments.
When Someone With Autism Rocks Is It Purposely Or Subconscious
Often times, someone on the spectrum may be unaware that they are rocking. They could easily be so wrapped up in their thoughts that theyre subconscious takes over as their mind tries to relax.
Other times they may realize that they need to relax, and begin rocking as they focus on relaxing.
Think about when you do something that would be considered stimming. Lets say you tap your foot.
Do you suddenly find yourself tapping your foot and you didnt realize you were doing it?
Does your mind pause for a moment right before you tap your foot making it a conscious thought?
I would guess both scenarios are true.
With that in mind, people with more severe autism may not realize that they are rocking.
Or they may know that they are, but dont give it any more thought than you would give when you scratch your arm.
Your arm itches, you scratch it and you dont think about it. If someone were to say Hey, youre scratching youre arm. You would be like, Ya, so? It itches. and it would be no big deal.
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Sensory Processing And Toe Walking
For many children on the autism spectrum, the sensory system has an impact on why the child may be toe walking. Think about the sensory components of toe walking. A sensory seeker will get a lot of input and pressure from toe walking. A sensory avoider will be able to avoid input through their feet by toe walking.The proprioceptive, vestibular and tactile systems have an impact on toe walking. If a child has difficulty knowing where his body is in space , or his sense of balance is off , he may be more prone to toe walking. If a child is sensitive to tactile input, toe walking will relieve the sensation on his foot. Additionally, there is some evidence that the visual system impacts toe walking. The visual system is an important component to helping us navigate the environment safely.
When My Kids Were Young My Son Justin Was Quite Curious About The Many Odd Mannerisms His Sister With Autism Demonstrated
We welcomed his questions as well as those from his curious neighborhood friends who we were determined to include in our friendly and oh-so-unconventional home. I did my parental best to offer up ideas as to why she does what she does, and thankfully they didnt question me or ask to see the evidence behind my hypotheses.
We asked a panel of providers to give us their best answers as to why our kids do what they do. Shelley ODonnell is an Occupational Therapist specializing in children with autism at Seattle Therapy Services. Jim Mancini is a Speech Language Pathologist and Emily Rastall is a Clinical Psychologist, both at Seattle Childrens Autism Center.
Heres what they had to say:
Why do many kids with autism . . . Avoid eye contact
Jim: Different reasons, I think. There is a difference between kids who actively avoid eye contact and kids who havent learned how to use eye contact during communication. For active avoiders, I think there is a sensory component where it is unpleasant for them to make direct eye to eye contact.
Emily: One of the core deficits for individuals with autism is difficulty coordinating verbal and non-verbal means of communication. For example, while speaking to someone, a child may forget to make eye contact . In addition, individuals with autism do not find communicative meaning in others eyes like the rest of us. Thus, they are not drawn to others eyes as information sources.
Why do many kids with autism . . . Startle easily
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Detecting Early Warning Signs Of Autism
The sooner these symptoms are noted, the better. If your child is hitting all of their standard milestones, but still has several of these symptoms, discuss it with their pediatrician. If you have been considering autism for a while now, and this list just made you feel confident that your child is autistic, but you dont have the means to get them an official diagnosis any time soon, check out my super cheap eBook. It will give you plenty of information on how to incorporate therapy at home. There are 75 calming techniques, visual schedules, and an overview of therapy options, along with tons of other helpful information! Which of these symptoms have you observed in your child? Let me know in the comments! And dont forget to subscribe, and grab your free gifts!
Children’s Toe Walking Not A Sign Of Bigger Problems
Swedish Study Finds Most Kids Grow Out of It
“Walking is such a notable milestone, and if it is not typical, it is often a concern for parents and physicians,” says pediatrician Lee Beers, MD, who practices at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and who reviewed the study for WebMD. It appears in the journal Pediatrics. “This study certainly makes me feel more comfortable when I see toe walking in children who are otherwise developing well.”
Toe walking can accompany disorders such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, but it also occurs among children who have no such underlying conditions. In such cases, children are said to be idiopathic toe walkers.
The cause is unknown, lead author Pahr Engstrom, MD, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, says in an email.
It could be related to nerves, muscles, a mixture of both, or another unknown factor, he says.
Prior to this study, the number of children who were idiopathic toe walkers was also unknown.
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Is Walking On Your Tippy Toes Bad
Long-term effects of toe walking, if left untreated Many children who consistently walk on their tip-toes since establishing independent ambulation, may develop foot deformities as early as the age of four. These children may demonstrate ankle range of motion restrictions, impaired balance and poor postural alignment.
When Toe Walking Matters
While toe walking is associated with developmental delays, the act of toe walking itself does not necessarily mean a child is developing atypically. Usually, developmental issues connected to toe walking, including autism and cerebral palsy, will present with other symptoms.
So, toe walking in an older child might mean something more significant if the child is also engaging in sensory self-stimulation, or stimming, and finding it difficult to socially connect. Likewise, toe walking related to cerebral palsy is generally paired with additional difficulty in moving and controlling other limbs.
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Should I Stop My Child Walking On Their Toes
On occasions, children can ‘grow out’ of toe walking. However, you should seek professional support to reduce and eliminate toe walking. Toe walking can lead to pain and discomfort from difficulties such as the shortening of the achilles tendon. In severe cases, it can also lead to your child needing braces, or even surgery to lengthen tendons.
Why Is Walking On Your Tiptoes A Sign Of Autism
Toeing the line: Many children with autism cannot easily flex their ankles past 90 degrees, causing them to walk on tiptoes. Children who walk on their toes are more likely to have autism than other forms of developmental delay, according to a study published in January in The Journal of Child Neurology.
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Toe Walking In Adults
While doctors usually associate toe walking with children, its possible the condition can affect adults. Sometimes, an adult may have always toe walked and corrective measures were ineffective.
Other times, you might start toe walking in adulthood. This could be idiopathic or due to various conditions that can affect the feet. Examples include:
If you have started toe walking, but didnt as a child, talk to your doctor about potential underlying causes.
Toddler Toe Walking: What To Know
Parents wait expectantly for the day their child toddles uneasily across the floor for the first time. Unfortunately the triumph and pride can turn to concern and worry when a toddler is moving in atypical ways like toe-walking. But a toddler walking on toes is not necessarily in-itself a reason for parents to be on red alert. There are a number of potential reasons for tip toe walking and only rarely do they relate to larger concerns like autism or cerebral palsy.
Heres what parents of toe walking toddlers need to know.
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Causes Of Toe Walking In Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Toe walking has a positive association with language disorders in children however, research studies have failed to explain the neurophysiological cause of this association
It is uncertain what the underlying mechanism is behind the increased rate in observed toe walking present in autismhowever, it is speculated to be linked to differences in tactile/sensory responses.
Why Does My 19 Month Old Walk On His Tippy Toes
When kids learn how to walk, they usually begin walking on their toes. As their sensory symptoms continue to develop and their muscle tone increases in their trunk and lower extremities, children will lower down and begin to develop a more normal heel-toe gait pattern. This usually occurs around 18 months.
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Treatments For Toe Walking
Children who continue to walk on their toes do need help. Shortened tendons are painful, and they lock children into a walking pattern that’s very hard to break. Therapy can make flat-footed walking possible.
Experts say toe-walking treatments include:
- Physical exercises. Parents can use passive stretching techniques to help loosen tense tendons and encourage a normal heel-to-toe relationship. Parents can also entice their children to drop their heels quickly. These exercises aren’t always helpful in young children with communication deficits, but some families find them useful.
- Visual interventions. Doctors find prism lenses helpful in some children. These devices look like glasses, but they correct the visual disturbances that can come along with autism. Children who use this therapy also have daily visual-motor exercises to perform to retrain the eyes. Eventually, these children no longer need their special glasses.
- Casting. Tendons stretch via this technique. Every two weeks, the child visits a doctor for a new cast that pushes the foot slowly into the proper position. The child wears the cast both day and night, and in time, the tendon loosens and the child learns to walk with their heels on the ground. This mode of treatment takes up to six weeks to complete.
Interventions like this work. For example, researchers say children who use casts improve their gait, and they maintain those improvements years later.