Lining up toys

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TerryJ2, Dec 12, 2007.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I've seen posts on kids who line up toys, crayons, other items, and it's supposed to be one sign of autism.
    How do you know if it's not just obsessive-compulsive, or both, or a passing phase, or just plain preference?
    I've seen other people's "normal" kids do this, in addition to screaming bloody murder if someone disturbs their lineup, so how does one know?
    My son loves to do that but he does other things that are not lined up, IOW it's not totally consistent.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    It can be an indicator, but not necessarily. You have to keep it in context and with the other post today, lining up toys together with the sensory issues, speech delays, and anxiety sound like red flags for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

    All of us, easy child, difficult child and I have some sensory issues, however with easy child and I it doesn't interfere with daily life as it does with difficult child. As a child, I lined up toys. I used to play with hot wheels cars (cause my brother did and I wanted to be just like him) and I always lined them up. I just like things neat and orderly - always have. Same with easy child.

    Any of those things in and of themselves don't necessarily indicate anything, it's when you put them together and when it interferes with daily functioning that you start looking for answers.
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hmmm... thank you.

    We used to not be able to go out the door if difficult child was lining up something. We could easily be 1/2 hr late, just waiting for him.

    Now that we've worked on transitioning, giving 15 min., 10 min., 5 min. warnings, it is much, much better.

    Interestingly, I have a good friend whose son is an aspie, and he was a lot like my difficult child, and his mom helped him with-transitioning, too. It took yrs ... way longer with-them, now that I think about it ...
  4. Janna

    Janna New Member


    Honestly, Autism came right to my mind.

    Check out Think about a neuropsychologist. Read up. I've been doing TONS of Autism reading lately with the current situation with Dylan, and yeah, it's not what I thought it was.

    Why negative for Asbergers? Just because he's not an Aspie doesn't mean he may not be on the spectrum either. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) can look like ALOT of different things to different people.

    FWIW, our previous psychiatrist, psychiatrist #7 didn't see the Autism either in my son. Now, in Residential Treatment Facility (RTF), 8 years later, everyone sees it. Go figure?

  5. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I still line things up. I thought for the longest time I was Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). While the doctor says I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies (mostly the anal neat nick stuff) I remember difficult child doing this too.

    Someone posted here not long ago about their child lining up things and having to take something from home in a back pack. I think what I took to heart from that post was that it seemed like it was a security issue. If the dinosaur movie came on the child ran and got all the dinosaurs and lined them up. etc.

    difficult child still does this to some degree, but with an adult it just seems like you are a neat-nick. Monkish I believe is a good term - like the TV detective.

    My closet is color coordinated, when I'm stressed I clean and organize as an outlet. My office has a carousel for pens etc and its organized, I know when a pen or pencil is missing. Although once they take something ONE time - that's the last time. If I have to go look for MY toys - heck to pay. Maybe lining up the toys just leaves the child with a feeling of order and a sense of making what feels wrong in their little bodies right.

  6. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Does the child play normally, or just line things up? I work with autistic kids and they all line up their toys, but they don't play any other way. They don't even play with the other kids. Sometimes they run around screaming on the playground. They are having fun, but they aren't talking. Oh-he does other things, ours don't, and for all the years I have been doing this-the kids don't play.-Alyssa
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The first time I saw "Monk" I figured he's Aspie.

    The lining up of things - it's a matter of degree, as well as the lining up rather than playing with the toy in context. For example, an autistic kid will turn a toy car on its back and spin the wheels, rather than go vroom vroom with it.
    We had those coloured plastic stacking cups which we left in the bathroom. difficult child 3 wouldn't stack them, instead he would line them up with meticulous precision.

    A part of it is sort of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but again, it's the amount and the context.

  8. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    The way I think about it is that everyone has symptoms of something.
    If one is moody does that mean you are bipolar?
    If one is ritualistic does it mean you are Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
    If one counts calories and is very disciplined in your diet, are you anorexic?
    If you feel sad are you depressed?

    I figure it's just personality characteristics until it interferes with living life.
    If your moods are drastic, or you can't get to work on time because of rituals then you have to seek treatment or have some sort of professional intervention.

    None of us are plastic cut outs and we all have traits of a lot of things. It's what makes us unique.

    Part of my soap box is when PP say with hushed tones "xyz has a disorder as if everyone doesn't have something.

    Lining things up alone is not a reason for a diagnosis. It has to be part of a whole picture of who your son is, how he functions, genetics etc.

    As a kid, my mom had a red and white tiled floor. I only walked on the red squares for years. However if I was standing on white or happened to walk on white, I was not anxious or upset. It was just a tendency and a game that became habit. However, if I was inflexible and had other behaviors, then you would start to look into a way to make a child learn techniques to cope.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Definitely a red flag for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). However there need to be other red flags too such as speech problems in many kids, trouble transitioning, often poor eye contact, inappropriate social skills, "quirks," etc. I have raised five kids to age eleven and none of them lined up toys, including my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son. He just never played with toys. They held no interest to him and he lacked imaginative play.
    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are very connected. Not everyone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but most people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms, sometimes extreme.
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Like the others have said, other things need to be present as well.

    Travis never lined up his toys as I recall. Never. But he has other characteristics that all but screamed autism since infancy. His motor skills and speech were delayed, while he at times chose to play with other children, he usually played along side them rather than actually "with" them, but it was far more common to see him off to the side doing his own thing, he had a disturbing tendency to actually "zone out completely" from the world around him, among many others. I have actual video tape of this as my Mom used to visit and tape the kids playing for hours. lol

    Even if you read the list of "symptoms or characteristics" you don't have to present with all of them or even exactly as it's stated to have the disorder. (true for any sort of diagnosis physical or mental) And you can have the traits present but not actually have the disorder at all.

    My best friend is finally biting the bullet and getting her son a neuropsychologist evaluation. He and Travis are so much carbon copies of each other it's down right eerie. When I go visit the lil guy it's like watching Travis as a little kid again.

    Grandson Darrin is showing traits of autism. The older he gets, the stronger they seem to come across. Yet I still view them more as traits and we're watching him. He has no speech/language delay, plays ok so far, ect.

    Autism seems pretty common in husband's family, either as strong traits or the disorder itself. It's weird to see.

  11. Both of my guys lined up toys, and numerous other things... sigh. But here's a funny story. One Christmas, both of them had received an absolutely obscene number of presents. They grandmom took them into the parlor (our house was built in 1900 , it's really a parlor) and closed the pocket doors. When she opened them, she had the boys line up their presents all around the room and was taking photographs. husband and I found this most interesting! LOL

    By the way Marg, my guys absolutely love Monk. They think he's funny, but I think that Monk hits a little too close to home.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you!

    I've never really paid much attention to what he does while he's lining up his cars (inevitably at the head of the stairs where we will break our necks if we try to step over them, and where he will yell if we even come within 6 ft but it's his fault for choosing a bad location). But when he plays with-his miniature army men, he makes appropriate shooting noises and the dead guys fall over (I'm very tempted to make a joke here about the use of the words "appropriate" and "shooting" in the same sentence).
    He actually converses with-his friends, although they do the bulk of the talking.

    Now that you all mention it, I used to arrange my dolls on the shelves and my mom thought I should see a psychologist because I didn't talk to/them like my other friends did. Actually, I played Barbies with-my little sister, but other than that, thought it was stupid because it wasn't any fun with-o her. I couldn't come up with-the scenarios and conversations she did.
    Besides which, the dolls I was lining up were part of a collection, and it didn't make sense to make them talk. It made more sense with-the Barbies because Barbies were ... Barbies. :)

    So I can see that this could go either way ... and that he's outgrowing a lot of this stuff ... and I am fascinated by that new ADHD MRI and CT scan study where it shows that ADHD brains tend to mature at a much slower rate but still mature.
    I'm thinking the lining up stuff is just who he is.
  13. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I think the only time this issue becomes a problem is when it's interferring in your life. For example, your child can't get ready for the bus in time because he is trying to get everything lined up just perfectly <breathe> and he has to spend all his time 'fixing' things so they are 'just' right, <breathe> so he can't even get out of his room to brush his teeth and eat breakfast because he's trying so hard to get everything just right <breathe> so his day will go well, because if he doesn't leave everything lined up perfect his entire day will be off kilter <breathe>. Know what I mean??

    easy child has always lined things up and organized her halloween candy by color, size and then type - in that order. I organize my book shelves so that they go in size order. Each shelf only has books with similar topics and yes, it bothers me when H stuffs one of his books in with mine. My hand towels must be folded a certain way or I have to refold them, etc., you get the idea. Does this waste my time? No, not really. Does it interfere in my life? No, not really.

    Incidentally (and ironically), difficult child is a hoarder and her room has no particular order to it at all. However, if you ask her, she'd tell you that she has to have everything a certain way. It looks to me more like a tornado went through it, though she thinks it's organized. I will tell her, "difficult child, tidy your room" and she will respond with, "I did". lol

    I think that if these traits are present and there are others that are causing stress or difficult situations in your child's daily life, then it's worth looking into.

    I personally feel that lining things up or organizing things a 'certain' way are more like quirks and who among us doesn't have a quirk or two? But that's me. I think if you make a big deal out of nothing, it will become a big deal.
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I think if you make a big deal out of nothing, it will become a big deal.

    I agree.

    Our problem is that my husband is the opposite ... for so long, he ignored the whole thing. I was making a big deal. We were so unbalanced.

    We've come a long way.