Toe walking or not putting the heels on the ground when walking is much more common in those with autism spectrum disorder. The toe walking is often used in the mix as part of the diagnosis process of the disorder, especially when combined with the behavioral issues that occur with autism. There are many other causes of toe walking, with most cases being idiopathic.
It is not totally clear why toe walking is part of the autism speculum, but there are 3 speculated reasons:
- Sensory issues. They may have a sense of discomfort when the foot is on the ground or on a particular surface, so they toe walk to avoid those sensations.
- Vestibular issues. There may be issues with the vestibular system that causes them to move their weight forward that encourages a toe walking posture.
- Posture. Those with autism tend to have muscle weaknesses and poorer muscle tone. This can lead to a hyperextended back which facilitates a toe walking gait.