Scattering Verus Lining Up

Scattering versus lining up.

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Scattering versus lining up.

You’ve hit up the Internet and every book you can read, you are pretty positive your child’s autistic BUT one of the main behaviours always listed in the checklists you’ve seen is lining up.

You have ticked off repetitive play, you’ve realised all the times you thought your child standing in the playhouse at nursery washing up in the sink where there happened to be other children was not playing with them, it was playing alongside them.

It’s quite an eye opener!

It’s definite that they have sensory issues as they scream with loud sounds, you’ve already ordered some ear defenders, you feel like your doing something.

Tiptoe walking? Tick

Picky with food? Tick

Delayed speech/ spoke early? Tick

Spins, rocks and has a seemingly inability to understand others emotions? Tick

Has meltdowns over transitions and breaks down to the point of complete breakdown over the fact their biscuits snapped in half? Tick.

But lining up? No.

pool-831996_1920Your child is the messiest little person you know! Piles of clothes, DVDs and toys in random piles adorn your front room floor, your hallway (right in the middle) and their bedroom? Chaos!

If you attempt to tidy up or move these piles your child panics, screaming and a meltdown of momentous proportions ensues.

But did you realise that your child is lining up in their own way?

The stereotypical lining up is the most recognisable autistic trait, and the reason for it?


We arrange things in order to control our environment in a world that to us is random, scary and out of sync. Knowing that that line is there, that we made it and it’s not going to be touched altered or moved makes things bearable. It looks nice, it comforts us.

Scattering is another form of lining up, these piles are specifically placed with carefully chosen items (though it won’t look like it), and arranged at key points of the room or place they are positioned in .

If in a door entrance they control (to your child) who enters, the speed they enter and control the room making it safe.

My children both line up and scatter. My older daughter hoards.

It’s all about making our mark, making things bearable.toys-706162_1920

If piles are problematic give your child a large tub or a specific area of the room to pile up in, if it’s scattering not piling it’s fruitless to try and tidy up while they are awake so do so if possible when they are asleep.

You will find an autistic piles, lines or scatters more when they are stressed or alternatively particularly happy.

School may provoke more lining up /scattering as might a much anticipated trip to a theme park they’ve been wanting to go to.

They want to go but are anxious, what will happen? Will it be ok?

Lining up/scattering is never misbehaviour it’s a coping mechanism and an important one and should be accommodated.

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