“Does she line things up?”
This is a question that comes up frequently during appointments for Lou. I must admit I’ve quietly thought to myself : why does it matter if she does?!? The trouble is I don’t always grasp what people are trying to get at!
We have been noticing more lately as Lou approaches 5 years old, that she prefers to line her toys up, early assessment reports would always say: “Doesn’t appear to line things up.” Then I’m guessing this wouldn’t have been seen unless it was in the comfort and safety of her own home. Recently Lou has developed an interest in little characters such as ‘Shopkins,’ ‘Trolls’ from the recent movie, ‘Peppa Pig’ and ‘Tsum Tsum’ characters, she will also line up her Barbie dolls and wooden bricks, anything that’s within her reach really. It always amazes me how she knows the name of every single character and will name them as they are placed into line: “there you go, into the line Stawberry Kiss.” She also tells me every day who has been the: ‘Line Leader’ at school!
I’m always interested in the theory behind these things and started to think that during my experience in Early Years Education that I’ve seen many Neurotypical (NT) children perfectly happy to line things up, in the chaos of a toddler or child’s mind I can see how to order and line objects such as toys can provide some organisation and control to the many things that are loading into their brains as they are like ‘sponges’ taking in so much information about the world around them.
Then I starting to think about my ‘ways’ (as we describe them in our household!) and thought back to being a teenager that had a certain place for every single ornament on shelves, books and CD’s in alphabetical order, everything in it’s own place and if any item was ever moved I could tell straight away and feel very frustrated and this feeling would only go away when I moved the object back into it’s certain place. This reminded me that when Lou is lining her toys up she prefers to be on her own and if her sister, Moo (almost 2) moves a character out of the line that Lou is making, or if a character falls down then the whole lot will get thrown across the room and this will often result in a meltdown.
This is a character from The Trolls movie that has a very long neck and is notorious for falling over out of line! Lou will say “he’s my favourite because he ‘poos’ cupcakes!
I read that:
“A disruption in the order of alignment of the line of toys might be upsetting because lining up the toys provides comfort and a sense of control.”
I think that by having my children I did have to adapt and mellow out a bit in terms of taking this sort of control in my life as I learnt to dedicate my time to them rather than spending time cleaning and lining up. At times of more stress I will have a burning desire to clean and organise more and I find this is a way to reduce my anxieties and gain back some control. I cannot help that my brain is saying to me that I like the way a room looks after it’s been cleaned and organised, and it’s the control and organising the mind aspects I guess that prompts Lou to line her toys up. I guess that after a day of demands and holding in her sensory overloads at school could result in coming home and feeling better after lining her toys up.
One thing that I do want to try and help with is that this doesn’t become more of a problem as Lou teaches her teenage years or adulthood, as I couldn’t revise for my GCSE’s or do any University work until a room was tidy, if I did try and sit down and study before tidying I would be distracted by dust on the TV, bits on the floor and I’d just have to get up and clean it, often resulting in working in to the early hours of the morning and resulting in a ‘burn-out’ whilst revising for my GCSEs, GNVQ at college and University degree and I’m still like it now – before I start work on my laptop I have to clean up first! The difference is that my lining up and order verges on OCD that is treated via my GP, it is an obsessive nature that has grown with me over time and I can’t even remember if I lined up my toys as a child! I worry that Lou has picked up on this but simply cannot help the way that my brain is wired.
This is why I sent the relevant information to the ‘Umbrella Pathway’ panel (assessment for ASD in Worcestershire.) As for now I will not encourage Lou to stop lining things up as I can see that it’s therapeutic for her at the moment, and she’s decided to do it on her own agenda, but early intervention is key and I want her to avoid it becoming more and more obsessive as she gets older, to prevent it interfering with other aspects of her life like her school work, or relationships as it takes a lot of Lou’s daddy to understand my ‘ways!’ And not everyone could put up with it!
I’m always fascinated to hear other people’s experiences about lining things up, whether a child or adult. I like to find out the theory behind it all. If anyone would like to share a story either named or anonymously I’d be happy to share.
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Thanks for reading 🙂