Podiatrists Treat Toe Walking In Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)


Toe walking – a condition characterized by a child walking on his or her tiptoes – is one of the most common gross motor deficits in children on the autism spectrum. Evaluation and treatment may be required once a child is able to walk unassisted, but continues to walk on his or her toes or the balls of the feet. Although behavioral interventions and physical therapy can produce positive outcomes in children with autism who walk on their toes, a podiatrist can also play an essential role in your child's treatment.

Role of the Podiatrist

Although toe walking in children with ASD may be due to tactile sensitivity or proprioception – a sense of where their bodies are in space – it's important to have your child evaluated by a podiatrist to rule out other underlying foot conditions that could be causing the problem. Toe walking in an autistic child sometimes also may be indirectly related to a visual-vestibular disorder since autism spectrum disorders often involve sensory problems with the proprioceptive, tactile and visual systems.

Certain neuromuscular conditions, such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, can cause toe walking as well. Your child's toe walking may be caused by spinal cord disorders, a difference in the length of your child's legs, or a short Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel.

Treating Equinus Contracture

Although toe walking is normal in many toddlers when they are first learning to walk, a podiatrist can assess the situation if your child fails to outgrow the habit. Evaluation is important, as prolonged toe walking that goes untreated can lead to equinus contracture, a condition that restricts normal movement of the ankle joint.

For a mild problem, a doctor may recommend physical therapy that includes stretching exercises to stretch the heel cord and calf muscles. When stretching exercise isn't effective, serial casting is a treatment option for stretching the Achilles tendon that involves weekly or biweekly cast changes. But extended use of casting can weaken the muscles.

Some doctors recommend specialized orthotics to treat equinus contracture of the foot or ankle in children. Custom-fitted orthotics help prevent toe walking caused by muscle spasticity from getting worse as a child grows.

If your child's toe walking is due to a muscle disorder, the use of botulinum toxin (Botox) treatment can relax tightened calf muscles. But when this or other non-surgical treatments fail to correct the problem, your child may need surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendon. To learn more, speak with someone like North Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic foot injuries.


6 April 2016

Working With A Podiatrist To Solve My Foot Problems

When I started working out every day, I encountered a strange problem. My feet always seemed to hurt, and I didn't know what to do. If it wasn't an ingrown toenail, it was a sore arch or a throbbing heel. Instead of writing off the problem as a simple inconvenience, I decided to meet with a podiatrist who could diagnose the issues. As I talked with the professional, I learned that my foot problems probably stemmed from different issues, and he targeted each one with a different treatment. After a few weeks, my feet felt a lot better. This blog is all about how a podiatrist can help you to solve your foot problems.