Tuesday, 10 May 2016

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 autism 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, 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. 

There are some thoughts that scripting should be discouraged.  If it's 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. Lists are good. I like lists; they are very calming! I don't think I've noticed Tyger use lists yet, though scripting is certainly familiar so it may be a matter of time.


    1. Perhaps, Anthony likes to script his lists. Sometimes he'll ask me some questions just so he can list and script it.

  2. Who doesn't love a list? And if they help Anthony why would you want to discourage them?! Its lovely to hear that he has something that he can include in his special interest! Thank you for linking up to #spectrumsunday. Hope you join me again on Sunday xx

    1. Indeed. I often have mental lists even if not physical ones ;-)


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What is Autism?
It's so much I couldn't possibly try and explain. For us it's wonderful and heart-breaking. Joyous and truthful. But as far as diagnosis is concerned, why not have a look at the National Autistic Society for their definition of Autism.
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