Tippy Toes and Learning Challenges

Starbuticks is one of my favorite writing spots because 1) it’s acceptable to sit there alone with your computer, and 2) there are no interruptions.  And okay, 3) I like the drinks!

So I was sitting at Starbucks the other day when two different families came in with their toddler boys who were almost exactly the same height and age (tiny, adorable, and about 2 years old).  Both were wearing cute little tennis shoes.t

What caught my attention was that one of the little boys was walking completely on his toes.  He wasn’t playing.  He was just holding his dad’s hand, walking along on tip-toe. The other little boy was walking by his mom with a typical heel-to-toe gait.

Which of these little guys is more likely to have learning problems?

ANSWER:  The toddler on tip-toe

Toe walking is not necessarily something to be alarmed about, and in many cases, it goes away all on it’s own, but according to Expert Answers on BabyCenter.com:

“Toe walking with no accompanying physical problems is called idiopathic toe walking, and is frequently seen in children with language or other developmental disorders, though we don’t know just why.”

Actually, we do have an idea why…

Toe walking is a symptom of a retained primitive reflex – the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR).  This reflex becomes active at birth and integrates, or quits firing because it is no longer needed at 4 – 6 months of age.  It plays a vital role in developing correct alignment of the head with the rest of the body.  This is necessary for balance, eye tracking, auditory processing, muscle tone and organized movements – all of which are essential to the development of our ability to focus and pay attention and learn.

Some possible long-term effects of an unintegrated TLR are:

  • Difficulty following verbal directions
  • Poor reading comprehension; letter reversals
  • Trouble copying from board
  • Disorganized, forgetful
  • Speech and language problems
  • Balance and coordination difficulties
  • Hunched posture
  • Toe walking

We see many children and teens at Stowell Learning Center who have retained primitive reflexes contributing to their challenges with attention and learning.  By using specific movement exercises and/or light therapy techniques, these reflexes can be integrated, allowing students to be calmer, less anxious, more attentive, and more mentally available for learning.

Integrating the reflexes won’t teach a struggling learner to read or do math, but with the removal of the neurological interference caused by retained reflexes, the remediation of academic skills goes more quickly and easily and sticks!

Go to www.learningdisability.com for FREE resources and more information about correcting learning challenges.

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