W-sitting: Is it a sign of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism?

W-sitting: Is it a sign of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism?

If you are reading this article, then you already know that w-sitting is a term used to describe the position in which kids sit with their bottom on the ground in between their legs, with their legs are bent, and feet are splayed out to the side.

Many children (and even some adults) sit in the “w” position – but why?

If you google search the topic: “why do people sit in the w position’ the answer will be as follows:  ~”in the w-sitting position, a child makes a wide base with their legs and relies on that, rather than using their core posture muscles.  They may begin to use this base to make up for a lack of core strength.  Your child may also sit in the w-position if they have problems with flexibility in their hip muscles.”

Sitting in the w position is quite common and is often observed in children aged 3 to 6 years.  Should a parent worry about this?  Well, that is not an easy question to answer because some believe that w-sitting does not cause any long-term effects.  That it is a more stable sitting position for the child and others believe quite the opposite and feel that it should be stopped and addressed as a matter or urgency.   Our opinion is that w-sitting is not good for your child and that is can over time cause other physical difficulties.  (Link article “w” sitting and autism)

Is w-sitting a sign of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism?   The simple answer is NO – w sitting when observed on its own is not a sign of autism.  W-sitting is in-fact very common (and normal) for children.  When w-sitting at the age of 2 or 3 year coincides with development delays that include social interaction delays, communication or speech delays, repetitive behaviors or restrictive routines or behavior then a diagnoses of ASD could be made.

When should you worry about w-sitting?  I would consult with an occupational therapist from as early as when I first see my child sitting in the w-position.  The earlier you help your child-built core muscle strengths and good sitting posture the better.  But it only becomes urgent to seek medical help when you notice that your child has developed a limp or when the child shows weakness in the lower extremities.

Changes in walking for example pigeon in-toeing (which describes a condition where the child’s toes turn in a while their walk or run) or if your child is unable to sit in any position other than the “w” position should not be ignored.  Also make sure you keep a close eye on your child’s fine- and gross motor development.

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Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.