R. was never a hand-holder. When all the other almost toddlers were walking around holding onto someone’s hand she wanted no part of it. She did walk a little later than some of her peers, she was 17 months when she first took off on two legs. Very often when I would take her hand and try to lead her she would flop down on the ground flailing and usually screaming. Another autism mom I know calls this civil disobedience.
When we had early intervention I insisted that we get out each day. They did work on hand-holding in public, but when she turned three it was still a challenge. In preschool they do a lot of lining up and holding hands to walk to recess and they take a daily walk around the neighborhood. I had some anxiety over that, but the teacher informed me that R. usually did very well.
It seemed to me like after she started school she was a bit worse about wanting to walk anywhere with me, she wanted to be in her stroller or to be carried. I started making her walk only a foot or two from the car to her stroller and we worked up to walking across the parking lot to the shopping cart. She loves to ride in the cart so that is usually good motivation.
I’m still never sure that she is going to walk appropriately. I’m encouraged because this weekend she walked across a large parking lot, down a short sidewalk, into a store, down the escalator and waited patiently while we got a cart. She also walked from the car down a short street, into and through a restaurant allowing me to navigate her around waitstaff and customers and waited patiently to sit down. It seems like such a small thing, I know kids half her age can do this already. It still makes me happy and does make things easier.