Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sometimes Lining Up Toys Is Just That!

I recently searched out lining up toys and was quite discouraged to find that everyone who spoke about their child lining up toys was concerned about this being normal.

I checked out the 3 bigger sites (National Autism Association, First Signs, Autism Society of America) for Autism information and symptoms and found nothing regarding lining things in their signs and symptoms information.

Why does lining up toys have to amount to anything? If you look around kids see things lined up all around them. Cars on the road, cars in parking lots, people walking on the sidewalk, baking that we do at home, groceries on shelves. Having things lined up is just being orderly.

This is not to say that lining things up is not a sign of a bigger problem but if it isn't coupled up with a whole lot of other symptoms such as milestones not being met or other more blatant signs than hold your concern.

There has been so much lining up toys in this house over the years but honestly, lining up things is just ONE trait out of many that points to Autism.

(She told me that they were having a parade)

(She said, that they were all going to the "barm" or farm)

(They wanted to watch Blue's Clues with her)

(They are all waiting to hug the bunny)

My daughter was a very early talker and she was able to tell me what she was doing. My son who started Early Intervention at 23 months and now is in speech and OT working on his lisp and his grip (all connected to his speech delay) used to put things in lines too. Some people told me he was autistic when he was 23 months old. The reason? He was lining things up! Give me a break. You can see the beginning here. He is doing great, the lining ended right around the time it started.

I started researching all things related to Autism when he was 23 months. Always concerned, always watching, always worried but never stressed. I wanted to make sure that when people talked I had the answers. Educate yourself. Read everything. Talk to your pediatrician but in the long run, make sure you are armed with the knowledge to get your child the best possible care. Early intervention is important but don't let people tell you that lining up toys is a RED FLAG to Autism! I did that! I wish now that I had been stronger to tell them to "F" off. I was so shocked that someone had thrown the autism word out after discussing my son lining things up. If this is the case than all of my friends who line up their kitchen spices or refrigerator supplies in alaphabetical order should get evaluated now.

People with autism also process and respond to information in unique ways. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present. Persons with autism may also exhibit some of the following traits:

* Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
* Difficulty in expressing needs; using gestures or pointing instead of words
* Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
* Laughing (and/or crying) for no apparent reason;
* Preference to being alone; aloof manner
* Tantrums
* Difficulty in mixing with others
* Not wanting to cuddle or be cuddled
* Little or no eye contact
* Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
* Sustained odd play
* Spinning objects
* Obsessive attachment to objects
* Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
* No real fears of danger
* Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
* Uneven gross/fine motor skills
* Non-responsive to verbal cues

Know the signs. Go to Autism Speaks for more information.

EDUCATE YOURSELF and know that lining toys up is not the blanket of doom!!!!


  1. Anonymous3:53 PM

    LOVE the pics...particularly the 'parade'! Munchie loves lining up her little people too. She's just having fun, it doesn't bother me in the least. Well, except when they're all facing the wall...but we already discussed that o_O

  2. My son lined up toys, too. He is now 7 and does not have autism. Those pictures are adorable. I love the one of the stuffed animals waiting for a hug! My parents took pictures of stuffed animals I lined up all around my father when I was a child.
    =) melanie

  3. Bhaavna1:46 AM

    Thanks a ton...This was what I was looking for! My son actually lines up all the cars and say that they are getting ready for a race!

  4. Anonymous8:27 AM

    Your pictures actually made me emotional, not because I was worried about your daughter, but because its just so amazing to watch to watch a child think. I love your comments and wish everyone could read it. Well said.

    1. Thank you for your comments. It is hard to have people talk about your children but I also know that I can't be so self important not to research their concerns. If people were to talk to children and ask them why they are doing something, they may be surprised at their answers. They actually are pretty thought out considering and not a red flag at all. Thank you for allowing me to revisit this post.

  5. I just found this after a google search. My 3 year old does this daily. I knew it wasn't autism. I just wondered if he was going to be an engineer or architect or something. :)

  6. Thanks to the bloggers for sharing, my daughter also likes to line up her Barbie dolls, she said they are participating in the model contest.

  7. Very good post, but I think kids like to line up toys just because they find it interesting, not so complicated theory

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  9. Thank you for this!!

  10. It's not about the lining up, but WHY they are being lined up. Autistics generally can't explain in words why the activity / result is satisfying and appealing. Moreover, there is usually a very specific pattern to the ordering. If it's not obvious to outside observers, there's probably a reason for the autistic child. The child pictured had an obvious external activity (they're doing something with her), and there does not appear to be an ordering here (although as stated before, this is not required). Contrast this to a confirmed autistic child's lining up, and you'll notice patterns (big to small, colors, other traits, etc.). They also get tend to get extremely upset when the pattern or play is disrupted, which includes seemingly minor questions such as "what are you doing?"


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