Toe-walking is common among children with autism. A study conducted in Sweden concluded that 41% of children with a cognitive or neuropsychiatric disorder such as autism, were or had been toe-walkers.
There are a variety of medical issues associated with toe-walking but it can also occur in children without any underlying medical condition.
Six Reasons Why Autistic Children Toe Walk
- Constipation: If your child’s constipated they may be uncomfortable or in pain. To alleviate or deal with the tightness they’re feeling in their tummy, many kids will toe walk.
Want to know more? Managing Constipation in Autistic Children
- Vitamin or nutrient deficiencies: Deficiencies in magnesium, zinc, or thiamine (a B vitamin) levels can cause toe-walking. For example, a Vitamin B12 deficiency can affect your nervous system and consequently affect the way you walk.
Want to know more? Magnesium Deficiencies and Autism: What You Need to Know, What You Need to Know About Zinc Deficiencies and Autism, How Can Vitamin B12 Help Your Child With Autism?
- Food sensitivities and allergies: Food sensitivities can leave your child feeling particularly anxious and irritable. This can result in toe-walking.
Want to know more? Understanding Food Sensitivities and Autism
- Sensory processing difficulty or disorder: Walking on the toes provides extra sensory input. If your child is struggling with a sensory processing disorder they may be seeking additional input in their feet, toes, and lower legs and to achieve this they may begin toe-walking. An occupational therapist can help you figure out ways to prove them with this additional input in a more functional way.
Want to know more? 3 Reasons to Try Squeezes and Joint Compressions Today
- Eye development issues: Your autistic child may toe-walk as a result of depth perception issues or a visual processing disorder. When kids have a visual processing disorder, the cycle of messages being sent from their eyes to their brain and back to their body isn’t working correctly. This can result in a variety of issues including toe-walking.
Want to know more? Toe Walkers: How Vision Therapy Can Save Your Feet
- Retained primitive reflexes: Humans are born with primitive reflexes. These reflexes exist to protect us as defenseless infants. At different ages, these primitive reflexes fade away or are integrated.
The tonic labyrinthine reflex (TLR), if retained, can cause toe-walking. There are exercises your child can do to help with this. An occupational therapist experienced in treating retained primitive reflexes or a pediatric chiropractor can help.
Want to know more? TLR Primitive Reflex
Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a great job.
I hope this information has been helpful to you as part of creating Your Autism Game Plan.
Do you have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.orgTell Me More!
All my videos offer unbiased, actionable advice for your most common autism challenges.
You might also like: Recognizing and Treating a Speech Delay in Your Autistic Child