Wednesday 30 May 2018

My autistic son is loving his lists

Lists.  We all use them at some point.  They help us organise our thoughts or remind us about tasks.

  • Shopping lists
  • To-do lists
  • Snag lists
  • To catalogue
  • To register
  • To file
  • To record
Recently our eldest son, Anthony, has become quite interested in a few lists.  Anthony is on the autistic spectrum and like some people who are autistic, he has a few special interests.  He is particularly keen on Formula 1.  Previously he has watched all the highlights of all the races for the last few seasons, several times over but recently he has been more interested in reading or memorising a list of races or results.

Anthony used both of these activities as a self stimulating routine and a way of calming his system.  He often 'scripts' from the highlights DVDs.  If I had a penny for every time I've heard, "And it's lights out and away they go.."

Sometimes scripting is seen as a type of echolalia, where a child is repeating a set of words or sound without understanding or knowing what they mean.  However, this isn't the case with Anthony.  He fully understands the concept and knows what's happening.

Repeating the scenes and details in his head is calming.  Perhaps it's a bit like picturing a relaxing beach scene if you are stressed.  Anthony, and many other individuals with autism, have difficulty using their imagination and picturing things in their mind.  Sometimes I think repeating a list, like the order of the Grand Prix destinations this year (and for the last four years actually) gives him that same peace.

It's also helped with developing his skills and working through things he wants to understand.  Recently he memorised how to make a pizza, because it was an ordered list.  When our darling dog passed away, he made a list of all the ways he could talk about it - it was like that scene from Patch Adams. 

Some opinion suggests that scripting should be discouraged.  It’s unusual and can appear odd to someone who is watching. If listing things is distracting Anthony from himself or what he wants to do then we can draw him back.  In the meantime his lovely lists serve a valuable purpose and I won't be cutting them short without good reason.

Our blog - Using our memory skills making Pink Pizza
Our blog - A little bit of obsession in action
Our blog - I'm happy my son is showing signs of echolalia


  1. I can really relate to this post as I need to make lists all the time - in fact if I don't get things down onto list although mine are a lot less categorized I get pretty stressed out so I can see how list making would be so calming to Anthony. Thanks for sharing this with #coolmumclub and hope you're doing well!

  2. I can see how list making would be helpful and calming for some people - I love lists too - so if it helps Anthony, then it's all good. :) Hope all is well


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