Is Toe Walking a Legitimate Sign of Autism?

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Toe walking refers to a person who has difficulty getting their toes on the ground due to sensory processing issues. It is often seen as an extreme symptom of autism, but recently it’s been gaining more attention from parents and doctors alike for its therapeutic effects with children suffering from anxiety disorders.

The “is toe walking a sign of autism” is a controversial topic. Some people believe that it’s not, while others believe that it is. The truth is that we don’t know what the cause of toe walking is.


No kid is born with the ability to walk. With the assistance and guidance of their parents, all children take their first hesitant steps. Some little toddlers, on the other hand, stand on their toes as they learn to walk. That habit doesn’t always go away with time.

Researchers have discovered a link between toe walking and autism, however they aren’t sure why. While this unique stride cannot be used to officially diagnose autism, it may be utilized by parents to ensure that their children get early, beneficial therapies.

How Do Toe Walking & Autism Connect?

Autism is a condition that affects children’s development. When individuals describe symptoms, they often concentrate on how others speak or interact with others.

Physical symptoms may arise in people with autism. One of them is toe walking.

To put it another way, youngsters who toe walk:

  • Maintain a high heel position. They stand with their weight in their toes at all times.
  • Keep doing what you’re doing. Experts estimate that babies walk like way for at least three months after learning to walk.
  • Make your heel cords as tight as possible. Tendons and ligaments are kept flexible by normal foot movement, allowing them to flex and stretch. Children who walk on their heels do not stretch key tissues, which causes them to become stiff and inflexible. These alterations make it more difficult to repair a toe walk.

Standing on their toes, most youngsters take their first, unsteady steps. It’s a normal and typical tendency that most youngsters outgrow by the time they reach the age of three.

If your youngster is still learning to walk, a few hesitant steps on their toes should not be a reason for alarm. However, if the youngster continues to walk in this manner, it’s time to see a doctor.

Can Toe Walking Assist in the Diagnosis of Autism?

Many children with autism, according to studies, walk on their toes. According to experts in a 2011 study, 20% of children with autism walk on their toes. This is an alarmingly high percentage, but it’s crucial to note that toe walking alone isn’t sufficient for physicians to diagnose autism.

Early on, children with autism show a number of signs and symptoms, including:

  • The incapacity to communicate.
  • The capacity to say one or two words but not the ability to put them together.
  • When a parent addresses the kid by name, the youngster does not respond.
  • There is no desire to repeat words or noises.
  • The inability to babble or create pre-language sounds.

Autism might be suspected if toe walking is combined with verbal deficits, according to specialists.

Children, on the other hand, may walk on their toes for a variety of reasons. They may have genetic abnormalities in their legs, heels, or feet that prevent them from walking on their flat feet. They might also be suffering from another medical issue that affects the bones or tendons.

Behavioral screening is the next step if your doctor feels you have autism. A diagnosis of autism spectrum condition cannot be made by a blood test, x-ray, or brain scan. Doctors, on the other hand, make observations regarding how their patients are growing and encourage parents to fill out behavior surveys. Doctors may diagnose autism using this information.

Because autism tests are observational, some clinicians prefer to wait until a kid is older before making a firm diagnosis. Some children grow out of their linguistic difficulties and do not meet the diagnostic criteria later in life. However, if parents suspect their kid has autism and their child’s doctor is missing vital indicators, they may seek a second opinion and the assistance of an expert.

Treatments for Inability to Walk on Your Toes

Children who walk on their toes need assistance. Shortened tendons are uncomfortable, and they force youngsters into a difficult-to-break walking pattern. Flat-footed walking may be achieved with the help of therapy.

Treatments for toe-walking, according to experts, include:

  • Physical activity is recommended. To release stiff tendons and foster a natural heel-to-toe connection, parents may utilize passive stretching methods. Parents may also persuade young children to immediately lower their heels. These activities aren’t always effective in young children with communication problems, but they may be beneficial to certain families.
  • Interventions in the visual field Prism lenses are beneficial to certain youngsters, according to doctors. These glasses-like devices rectify the visual abnormalities that might be associated with autism. Children who get this treatment must also complete regular visual-motor activities to retrain their eyes. These youngsters will eventually no longer need their special spectacles.
  • Casting. This procedure stretches the tendons. The youngster returns the doctor every two weeks for a fresh cast that gradually moves the foot into its normal position. The kid wears the cast during all times of the day and night, and the tendon loosens with time, allowing the youngster to walk with their heels on the ground. This therapy method might take up to six weeks to finish.

Interventions like this one are important. Children who wear casts, for example, improve their gait and keep it for years, according to studies.

It’s important to note, however, that modifying a child’s stride has no effect on the child’s autism. Structured, individualized treatment delivered by a skilled expert is beneficial to children with autism. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is frequently used in these sessions.

Children may improve their speech abilities in sessions with this therapist. Children may learn enough in these sessions to be able to attend regular kindergarten. These treatments are critical, and they should be combined with therapy to improve their gait. It is preferable to start these measures as soon as possible.


The “autism and foot problems” is a question that many parents have been asking. There are no clear answers to the question, but it seems like there is some correlation between autism and toe walking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is toe walking linked to autism?

A: There is no evidence linking toe walking to autism.

What percentage of toe walkers have autism?

A: The percentage of toe walkers who have autism is at least 75%.

When should I worry about toe walking?

A: There is no specific time to worry about toe walking. However, if you are a diabetic or have some other condition that makes your toes turn purple and/or numb, this may be an early sign of problems.

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