Understanding Toe Walking in Individuals with Autism and Strategies for CorrectionChef Justin has always done this and as a result he sees a chiropractor each week to make sure he stays in balance. When he was little we were not aware of the long term effects or that we needed to try and correct it.Toe walking, a common characteristic observed in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to walking on the balls of the feet with little or no contact with the ground. This behavior can impact a person’s gait, balance, and overall motor skills. Understanding the reasons behind toe walking and implementing appropriate strategies can help individuals with autism overcome this challenge and improve their walking patterns. In this article, we will explore the causes of toe walking in individuals with autism and discuss effective methods to correct it.Causes of Toe Walking in Autism:1. Sensory Processing Differences: Many individuals with autism have sensory processing differences, which can lead to a preference for walking on their toes. Toe walking may provide them with a sense of stability or proprioceptive input that helps regulate their sensory system.2. Motor Planning and Coordination Challenges: Autism is often associated with motor planning and coordination difficulties. Toe walking may be a result of these challenges, as individuals with autism may find it easier to maintain balance and coordination while walking on their toes. Justin also has Ehlers Danlos a connectivity tissue disorder that makes balance difficult.Strategies to Correct Toe Walking:1. Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapists can play a crucial role in addressing toe walking in individuals with autism. They can assess sensory processing differences and develop a personalized treatment plan. Therapeutic interventions may include activities that promote balance, coordination, and proprioceptive input, such as jumping, hopping, and walking on different surfaces. We do have a small trampoline and we are working on a balance ball.2. Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Stretching exercises can help lengthen the calf muscles, which can reduce the tendency to walk on toes. Strengthening exercises for the lower leg muscles, such as calf raises, can also be beneficial. These exercises should be performed under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Justin has the calf muscles of a bodybuilder after 23 years of toe walking.3. Orthotic Devices: In some cases, orthotic devices like ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) or shoe inserts may be recommended. These devices provide support and help maintain a proper foot position while walking, discouraging toe walking. I wear Orthotics for my Ehlers Danlos but Justin doesn’t. His feet have become so calloused and heavily muscled at the top the podiatrist doesn’t think it would do any good.4. Visual and Verbal Cues: Providing visual and verbal cues can help individuals with autism become aware of their toe walking behavior. Encouraging them to focus on placing their heels on the ground while walking can gradually correct the habit.5. Behavioral Interventions:when Justin went to ABA it was new and things like toe walking were not addressed. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) techniques can be employed to modify toe walking behavior. Positive reinforcement, such as rewards or praise, can be used to encourage walking with flat feet.The Dr doesn’t seem to think that Justin’s feet will give him any long term issues other than he wears his shoes out extremely fast. However I do wish we had addressed this much earlier in life for him. We just didn’t know.