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Is Walking On Your Toes A Sign Of Autism

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How Can We Help Toe Walking

Autism Symptom RECOVERY…Walking on Tip Toes and Comprehension Improving W/Homeopathy

While many doctors and professionals recommend surgery for this particular type of issue, we are still not focused on the real toe walking problem. The real issue we should be correcting is the childs vestibular to help calm the symptoms of toe walking while helping them improve the learning challenges associated with the signs. Surgery or prism lenses may still be needed, however, using activities at home and in school can improve your childs vestibular used for higher learning.

Dr. Edelson, also said, The vestibular system provides the brain with feedback regarding body motion and position. It may be possible to reduce or eliminate toe walking by providing the person with therapeutic vestibular stimulation .

If your child is prone to toe walking, there are exercises to do in your home that can help. These exercises will not only help them walk on their heels, they will also improve your childs vestibular system.

What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor About Toe Walking

If your child continues to walk on his or her toes after the age of 2, you should ask your doctor:

  • Will my child need casts or leg braces?
  • What tests are necessary to rule out other medical conditions, like cerebral palsy?
  • Should I watch for signs of another condition, like autism?
  • If this condition persists, what will the effect be on the rest of my childs life?

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/06/2018.


How Do Toe Walking & Autism Connect

Autism is a developmental disorder. When people describe symptoms, they often focus on the way people talk or the way they interact with others.

People with autism can also develop physical symptoms. Toe walking is one of them.

Simply put, children who toe walk:

  • Keep their heels lifted. Whenever theyre standing, their weight is in their toes.
  • Persist in the behavior. They keep walking like this for at least three months after they learn to walk, experts say.
  • Develop tight heel cords. Normal foot movement keeps tendons and ligaments limber, so they can flex and stretch. Children who walk on their heels dont stretch critical tissues, and they grow rigid and stiff. Those changes make a toe walk harder to correct.

Most children take their first, wobbling steps while standing on their toes. Its a common and natural behavior that most children outgrow completely by the time they reach 3 years of age.

If your child is very young and just learning to walk, a few tentative steps on their toes shouldnt cause you concern. But if the child keeps walking this way, its time to visit a doctor.

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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.

Do Autistic Toddlers Laugh

Idiopathic Toe Walking In Kids

Children with autism mainly produce one sort of laughter â voiced laughter, which has a tonal, song-like quality. This type of laughter is associated with positive emotions in typical controls. In the new study, researchers recorded the laughter of 15 children with autism and 15 typical children aged 8 to 10 years.

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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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What A Doctor May Recommend

1. Do a Thorough Assessment

Your pediatrician will need to do a thorough assessment of your childs development of motor skills and function of the brain. It is very important to catch any conditions that cause toe walking early in order to order physical therapy and other treatments to prevent permanent damage to joints and muscles.

2. Physical Therapies

A short Achilles tendon can be treated with stretching exercises and physical therapy. Therapists can also prescribe a brace called an ankle-foot orthosis to keep the foot at a 90 degree position at all times. This means your child will wear the brace 24/7 except for therapy sessions and bathing.

3. Serial Casting

Doctors can also cast the legs in a treatment called serial casting. They use casts of different sizes and positions to help the tendon stretch and improve range of motion to the ankle. Physical therapists believe that actively stretching the ankle is better and casting keeps the ankle in place. The casts cannot be removed for bathing or to perform exercise.

4. Surgery

In cases where the Achilles tendon does not respond to other treatments, surgery may be performed to lengthen the tendon.

5. A Neurological and Developmental Evaluation for Autism or Cerebral Palsy

Want to see how a doctor treats children walking on tiptoes? See the video below:

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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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When Should I Worry About Toe Walking

Early signs of autism/walking on tip toes

Toe walking on its own is usually not a cause for concern, especially if a child is otherwise growing and developing normally. If toe walking occurs in addition to any of the following, consult a pediatrician: Muscle stiffness, especially in the legs or ankles. Frequent stumbling or general incoordination.

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Is Walking On Toes Always A Sign Of Autism

“The fact that your kid toe walks is not a sign that they have autism,” he says. Beers agrees. “A lot of kids who toe walk are developing normally,” she says, “If it’s an isolated finding, it is not something to be too worried about. If there are no underlying concerns, it’s just something to keep an eye on.”

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asd

Every person with ASD is unique, so the timing and severity of the first signs and symptoms can vary widely. Some children with ASD show signs within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not become obvious until 24 months or later. Some children with ASD appear to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then stop gaining new skills and/or start losing skills.

During infancy , a child may show symptoms that include:

  • Limited or no eye contact
  • No babbling
  • Appearing not to hear
  • Playing with toys in an unusual or limited manner
  • Showing more interest in objects instead of people
  • Starting language skills but then stopping or losing those skills
  • Showing repetitive movements with their fingers, hands, arms or head

Up to 2 years of age, there may be continuing symptoms from infancy. A child may also:

  • Focus only on certain interests
  • Be unable to have reciprocal social interactions
  • Move in unusual ways, such as tilting their head, flexing their fingers or hands, opening their mouth or sticking out their tongue
  • Have no interest in playing with other children
  • Repeat words or phrases without appearing to understand them
  • Have behavioural issues, including self-injury
  • Have trouble controlling their emotions
  • Like to have things a certain way, such as always eating the same food

Possible signs of ASD at any age:

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Could My Child Have Autism

All children will have both delays and sudden progress in their development. It is normal to be worried or concerned over lack of progress or unusual behaviors, and happily these are resolved eventually. However, parents are in an ideal situation to watch for potential signs of autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and other developmental issues in their child.

Autism and Asperger’s syndrome are developmental disorders and minimizing these developmental delays is very important for a child’s long-term outcome. For this reason, early diagnosis and intervention are stressed.

What It Means When Your Toddler Is Toe

Autism Toe walking 1

Growth spurts and sensory problems are two possible reasons for your toddler walking on their toes. Heres what you need to know about your toe walker.

After the cute and clumsy stage of learning to walk, my daughter quickly developed a new skill: toddling on her toes. People urged me to put her in ballet as she tiptoed around in her soft-soled shoes. I bought her a tutu, signed her up for an intro to dance class and figured she was destined for stardom. But then another mom crushed my dreams, telling me her son also walked en pointe, and he wasnt a prodigyhe was born with a short Achilles tendon. At my daughters two-year checkup, our doctor concluded she had tight calf muscles and recommended a few simple stretches.

Toddlers are a curious bunch and often spring onto their little piggies to catch some of the action thats happening above. And in the first six months of independent walking, its normal for them to spend some time on their toes, says Liesa Persaud, a paediatric physical therapist who gives seminars on toe-walking around the world. However, if your child is on their toes for longer than six months, its problematic, and you should get it looked at, she says. During that period, their tiptoeing should be decreasing.

Read more:

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Diagnosing The Cause Of Toe Walking

If you or your child continues toe walking, youll want to see your doctor who will evaluate for potential causes. This usually begins with taking a medical history. Examples of questions a doctor may ask include:

  • whether a child was born full term or if the mother had pregnancy complications
  • whether a child reached developmental milestones, such as sitting and walking
  • if they toe walk on both feet or one
  • if there is a family history of toe walking
  • if they can walk heel to toe when asked
  • if they have other leg- or foot-related symptoms, such as pain or weakness in the legs

Your doctor will also perform a physical examination. This will usually include asking to see you or your child walk. They will also examine the feet and legs for development and range of motion.

Other exams may include those for neurological function and muscle strength. If theres nothing in your childs medical history to indicate a cause of toe walking, your doctor wont usually recommend imaging or nerve function tests. Thats because for a lot of people, toe walking is idiopathic and doesnt have a known cause.

Why Does My 7 Year Old Walk On His Tiptoes

It is common for children of 10-18 months to walk on tip toes when they are learning to walk as it can help with their balance. Some children can continue this up to the age of 6-7 years where it usually resolves naturally, however a small number of children may continue to walk this way as they get older.

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But Sometimes This Is A Tendency We See In Kids Over Five And When Thats The Case Its A Sign That There May Be Something Wrong

Surprisingly, toe walking is not only a sign of a developmental delay in children it is also a sign of a poor vestibular system, which is tied to a childs balance and coordination. You may be asking yourself why balance and coordination is important and why it has anything to do with learning. If a childs vestibular system isnt working properly, we begin to see symptoms, like toe walking, poor behavior or learning challenges in the classroom. These signs mean that your child may have a disconnection in the brain preventing them from learning. We often see some of these symptoms in children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Aspergers. However, there are several mainstream children that may struggle with toe walking and vestibular issues as well.

Dr. Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D., recently posted an article about toe walking that said, Toe walking may be directly or indirectly related to a visual-vestibular problem.

If toe walking is an issue in your home or with your students, its an instant trigger that tells us to look into larger learning issues with your child.

So now that we know toe walking could be a sign of a poor vestibular system, how do we know when it begins having an impact on our childs learning? Here are some of the signs you may find in the classroom:

How Can You Help Your Children With Home Exercise Programs

Toe Walking and Autism | Kids at Play

Doing home exercises on a daily basis for children with idiopathic toe walking is very beneficial. Home exercise goals aim to stretch-out the muscles in the calves and bring more strength to muscles in the fronts of the legs. This will help toe walkers walk more normally from heel to toe and stand flat on their feet.

Stretches can help loosen tight calf muscles and increase the range of motion to the ankles. After stretches are done, then your child needs to perform exercises and activities that focus on using the stretched out muscles. These stretches and exercises should be done for the entire time that your child walks on tiptoes.

Depending on your childs age, exercises and stretches will be tailored to their level and fun for both you and your child.

The table below contains exercises for children who walk on their tiptoes:

1. Exercises for Children under Six years

2. Exercises for Children over Six Years

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Children Walking On Tiptoes

When parents see their young children walking on tiptoes, they may first think it is very cute and then might feel a slight bit of concern. When children walk on their tiptoes occasionally, it is usually not a sign of something more serious but just a developmental adaptation. Before 3 years of age, it is completely normal and possibly just a leftover mechanism from when your child was learning to walk. If walking on the tiptoes continues after 3 years of age, it may be a good idea to have the child evaluated for coordination issues, problems with muscles or developmental concerns. This piece will tell you why children walk on tiptoes and what to do when your children walk on tiptoes.

How Is Asd Diagnosed

There is no simple medical test for diagnosing ASD.

To diagnose a child with ASD, a healthcare professional observes the childs levels of:

  • communication

This could include the childs:

  • verbal skills
  • how they relate to others
  • behaviours related to their interests and activities
  • repeated actions related to how they speak, move or use objects

To determine the severity of ASD, the healthcare professional observes the amount of difficulty the child has with:

  • social communication

Medical professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders to evaluate ASD.

If a health care provider thinks that your child may have ASD, get a referral for a diagnosis. A specialist will create a detailed description of your child’s strengths and challenges. A team of health professionals may work together for this assessment.

Testing for ASD will also make sure that this is not a different condition. For instance, sometimes hearing loss can explain your childs unresponsiveness in social situations or when their name is called.

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Children Walking On Tiptoesis It Normal

When babies are in the uterus, they are curled up into a ball with their heels tightly pushed against their buttocks and toes downward. This leads to a very tight Achilles tendon that needs adequate time to stretch out after they are born.

At around 12 to 14 months of age, toddlers begin to walk. As this happens, they may walk on the tips of their toes and slowly begin to walk flat footed. After about 3 to 6 months of walking, walking on tiptoes tends to disappear. When toddlers reach the age of 3 they will almost always have feet flat on the floor when standing, but might still run or walk on their toes.

Babies that continue to walk on tiptoes after age 2 or 3 may have a slight chance of having developmental concerns. This sign is often seen in autistic children and children with cerebral palsy. However, there are usually other signs that accompany these disorders.

What Does Toe Walking Indicate

Toe Walking: Signs of Poor Vestibular?

Typically, toe walking is a habit that develops when a child learns to walk. In a few cases, toe walking is caused by an underlying condition, such as: A short Achilles tendon. This tendon links the lower leg muscles to the back of the heel bone. If it’s too short, it can prevent the heel from touching the ground.

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About Gait Disorders In Children

Children with gait disorders walk in ways that arent typical for children of that age.

Gait disorders might be obvious when children first start walking, particularly if the disorders are severe. Or they might develop at a later age or get worse over time.

But most gait disorders in children improve with time.

There are a few common gait disorders in children:

  • pigeon toe or in-toeing
  • toe walking.

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