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Talk about your dc's rituals and routines...

(23 Posts)
mysonben Sat 18-Jul-09 12:28:33

Am i paranoid about ds's routines? or do all toddlers (even the nt ones) have routines and rituals? According to my sis ALL kids have routines and her ds does what my ds does! (hmm???) btw her ds is nt without a doubt.

DS (3.8) stacks all the sofa cushions in a pile then lay in front of it whenever he drinks his bottle. (dare not take 1 single cushion or he explodes)

DS still open and close doors. The same goes with on/off buttons, he likes to press it repetively. DS will watch the same dvd for days and days and he has to press all the buttons on the dvd player or we have to start it all from the start again if not done like he wants.

DS must sit at the same place with the right plate and cup.

DS systematically checks the toilet bowl, must keep the door open or shut with the bolt according to the time of day. Then must always close the lid before flushing or else angry

DS will talk about every car, motorbike,... on the way to nursery, he has to pick up a stick, squeeze behind each electric wooden post, open the door an look inside the telephone box, show me the picture of the hedgehog on the floor by the nursery gates, walk on the painted foot steps leading up the path, run his hands on the railings, and MUST press the call button at the nursery door (or tantrum and tears) And this happens each and every time we walk to nursery.

When we go out, play a game, put him to bed, read a book..., increasingly ds has to control how we do it, everything is "that way" (his way) or he gets upset and cries or tantrums.
Where are we heading??? sad

Surely nt children don't have SO MANY rituals do they? or am i bananas in thinking my ds is different, more obsessive in his routines.

debs40 Sat 18-Jul-09 12:41:08


My elder son is undergoing assessment for AS/SCD and has some routine behaviour. He is 6.

It has made me very aware of things with my younger son who is 3 and a half.

He has lots of routine based behaviour too e.g. the way he drinks milk, how he drinks it, where he puts his toys, how we get into the car etc etc.

However, I keep an open mind on this. He is only three and lots of toddlers are like this. What made me convinced that DS1 needed help was his persistence and need for routine at 6 (together with inappropriate emotional responses and tantrums at that age too). To be honest, at 3, I'm putting tantrums and funny routines down to his age rather than any rush to pathologise his behaviour.

anonandlikeit Sat 18-Jul-09 13:11:51

HI mysonben,

Yes i think all children like routine & will have their little ways, as we all do at times.

If it you feel it is beyond what is the norm for his age OR it is having an effect on family life then it is something that needs investigating & help.
Lots of what you are listing does sound a little obsessional also for us it was the detail in everything ds2 sees & does that stood apart from normal toddler routine type stuff.
So not just a bedtime routine of bath, milk & bedtime with fave teddy BUT all the exactness & detail built in to that routine & the extreme reaction if we tried to enforce change & even if we convince ds2 to accept change without a tntrum & upset, he actully can't settle as it causes him genuine anxiety.
Go with your instincts, you know him best.

mysonben Sat 18-Jul-09 13:29:07

Thanks for your replies.
That's it , the problems aren't really with the fact that ds does have many routines but more with how specific his routines are and how upset, anxious he become if things are not how he wants them to be.
Most of the details and complexities of the rituals make no sense. I always think what does it matter if it's done this way or that way? It is meaningless. But the way it is done does matter to ds. That and his insistance for sameness are probably what makes his routines different to those of nt children.

anonandlikeit Sat 18-Jul-09 13:43:27

Exactly mysonben, they do amtter to him.
In a world where sensory things may be overwhelming & change is difficult building routine & sameness in to his day may help your ds to cope with the day to day life.

We have had to constantly work to help ds2 accept change, changing small things, working on the things that are either not safe or have a big effect on us all.

It is a hard one, the more routine we allow ds2 the more rigid he can become, so we do have to make sure we constantly challenge him with small changes, but we choose them wisely, bedtime, for example, we don't touch as we all need a good nights sleep & it doesn't really effect anyone else.
Touching kerb stones we ahd to stop, it was both dangerous & slow.

OT & ds2's psych have helped us all understand him a little better & the OT in particular has helped ds2 learn toa ccept change.

mysonben Sat 18-Jul-09 13:51:57

Yes routines versus safety are very difficult.
Ds will insist on having the stair gate opened at the top of the stairs , when dd (14m) is with us it isn't an option ...try to get him to understand that! hmm when pigs will fly he might.

lou031205 Sat 18-Jul-09 14:30:49

DD1 is 3.6 and has a few.

Always has to tell me if I've got wet hair.

Bed time - Always has to have covers on, star on (but chooses whether the projection is 'big' or 'little'), fan on regardless of temperature, bear in her arms, cat behind her head on the right hand side, milk and squash either side of her behind her head.

Always has to say "What about me?" if we are in the car and she asks where we are going. Always has to say "What doing next?" no matter what we are doing. I think these are anxieties because she doesn't know what is happening.

Always has to tell us who isn't coming. i.e. "Not Daddy, not Grandad, not Nanny, just Mummy & DD1."

Has to shut the fridge door even if I have left it open deliberately.

Obsessed with water, taps, etc.

debs40 Sat 18-Jul-09 15:06:01

But at 3 and a half, don't alot of children have quirks and little routines? They are just beginning to make sense of the world in their own way.

Unless extreme, then I think until these things go hand in hand with other issues (perhaps sensory issues or motor skill problems) then you can perhaps see it as just part of grwoing up.

It's when these issues become extreme, or are combined with other practical problems or are age inappropriate, that I would worry.

I had a friend moaning the other day that her three year old couldn't ride a bike yet. Many, many three year olds can't. Most eight year olds can.

There is a time and place for worrying and I think it is easier if you have another child to compare with.

I also agree that you know your child best and that you should follow your instincts if seriously concerned.

lou031205 Sat 18-Jul-09 16:02:39

debs40, yes, a lot of children do have quirks and routines, but I think the obsessiveness about following them is key. DD1 has GDD, and a brain malformation. Unfortunately for her, it is not just a part of growing up.

debs40 Sat 18-Jul-09 17:35:38

Sorry to hear that lou. But that's the difference isn't it? You know your little one has a GDD and you can see how these routines fit in with that.

On their own, with no other signs of any issues/problems, as with 'tantrums' in very young children, I think you have to be very wary about starting to pathologising behaviour at such a very young age.

As I said, parents will often know best, and you have to trust your instinct.

Getting back to the original post, which was do 'normal' children like routines - yes. Lots and lots of thoroughly normal toddlers have lots of little routines and like order.

lou031205 Sat 18-Jul-09 20:25:29

Not wishing to argue Debs, but the subtext of the OP was clear - mysonben was worried about the nature of the routines.

cjones2979 Sat 18-Jul-09 21:55:05

lou, my DS1 has many of the same routines/rituals as your DD. He is 5.8 and has ASD.

He will do the thing with telling me who isn't coming, and then say "just mummy & DS1". He will also have to shut the fridge door, and is obsessed with taps and water !!

DS1's routines/rituals have become more frequent as he's got older, and the tantrums/screaming fits that come with them if they are done incorrectly have too.

mysonben - as a parent I think there comes a time when you know if your childs routines are a bit more extreme than a nt childs, especially if there are other concerns (which I assume there are from seeing some of your other posts). Trust your instincts as his mum.

One thing I have found with DS1 is that he has certain routines or obsessions for a while, then something else takes over and some of the older routines/obsessions seem to fade into the background.

I don't know whether anyone else has experienced this?

skydelay Sat 18-Jul-09 22:36:16

Yes cjones, I noticed a few months back that my DS1 tends to change his rituals.

He used to tip toe alot then piling pillows on top of each other, moved onto waiting at the top of the stairs after he had used the bathroom asking if he could come down and would wait forever until I said yes you can come down, he then went on to touch each spindle on his way down.

The one at the top of the stairs I stopped by meeting him up there each time and walking down together. He didnt do it after a week.

They seem to be mainly at home, not in his settings or while we are out. All managable at the moment, I am hoping he will be okay when he starts primary in Sept. Wait and see.

5inthebed Sat 18-Jul-09 22:40:48

Ds2's routines are mostly "bad" during morning and night.

Morning, he can wake up at anytime from 3am, but I HAVE to get him out of bed when I get up. Nappy comes off, and underpants go on (used to be clean nappy, but he is being a star with the toilet training). He gets up, sits on the sofa and has cbeebies on while I potter about and make him his breakfast. Weetabix all the time, same bowl, same spoon.

During the day, he can be quite flexible, depending on his mood.

Night time, cbeebies again at 6pm, supper of a yoghurt after ITNG, jammies on, button (melatonin) at quarter to 7, toilet then bed. Bedtime, he has to go through all the pictures he has of funfair rides, then he has to have his Wall-e toys kissed by me, thne his lamp on, then kiss and sleep.

It is like this every day.Dreading next week when we are away!

mysonben Sat 18-Jul-09 22:44:23

Cjones- Yes, my ds has had routines that have faded and been replaced by other ones, or have made a comeback a few weeks later.

EX: The sofa cushions one, for a long time ds used to cover him with the cushions and drink his bottle, then he stopped for a couple of months. For the last 3 weeks the cushions routine has begun again, only this time he stacks them up then lays in front of them (actualy not resting his head on them).

Yes, i do know that SOME of ds 's routines are not right, he is far too obsessive over some, and i know these rituals are down to his asd.
Of course not everything he does is due to asd, it's only when he becomes fixated on meaningless details with regards to some routines and has big anxieties , over emotional issues when we have to stop it, that i know that it's asd related and simply not "normal" toddler behaviour.

The 2 reasons i asked the question in the first place are:

- DS1 is now 16 years old and he is NT, i had him when i was quite young and honestly cannot remember too well what he was like with regards to toddler routines and behaviour. He was easier than DS2, i know that much! wink

- My sister has a ds who is 5 months younger than ds and whenever i talk to her (she lives in france) about how crazy i get with ds 's routines , how difficult it is some days, she always come back with " oh ds does that too!" ...hmm her ds is not asd , so either she doesn't get my point about "the way" my ds is with his routines, or she does say that to wind me up on purpose ( wouldn't surprise me! angry)

Thanks for your replies anyway.

debs40 Sat 18-Jul-09 22:45:13

"Am i paranoid about ds's routines? or do all toddlers (even the nt ones) have routines and rituals? ......Surely nt children don't have SO MANY rituals do they?"

I took the question to be a pretty direct one and answered it as such. The fact is that lots of toddlers do have weird routines, anxieties, tantrums, odd behaviours. Such behaviour may mean something or nothing. None of us can say for certain and as a stand alone trait, I wouldn't be unduly concerned. But that's me.

mysonben Sat 18-Jul-09 22:51:58

Debs40, unfortunately my ds 's routines are not a stand alone trait, they are part of the bigger picture of ds 's behaviours, sensory problems, speech delay, social skills delays and poor imaginative play. So i do worry.
Just wanted to know about other oddlers routines and rituals to give me a bit of comparison iykwim?

debs40 Sat 18-Jul-09 22:53:05

Mysonben...I didn't realise your son had actually been diagnosed with an ASD. But, often when people say these things, they're not trying to undermine but reassure. Maybe your sister is trying to make it seem more normal. Sometimes we can feel that our little one's behaviour is completely beyond the pale, unusual and out of step, when it's not always so. Even NT kids can do odd things!

mysonben Sat 18-Jul-09 23:03:02

Debs40, i understand your point , and yes you do have a point, i suppose all kids asd or nt have their own little ways. Just wanted to check with others really as no close relatives have young toddlers near us , only my friend's little girl who is a little madam anyway( and she is nt btw) wink
I should have added that ds is asd , we 've had a verbal dx of asd by a paed. and going through the longggg process and waiting game for a formal dx soon or later more than likely. We are still a bit undecided as to get one or not.

debs40 Sat 18-Jul-09 23:08:30

You really have my sympathy! It is a long arduous process isn't it? I am often confused and worried about labelling things inappropriately. Sometimes I look at DS1 and think, there's nothing wrong with him. 5 minutes later, I know there is! My son is 6 and at school and so there seems more of a point to dx as he needs the support on an emotional level.

My friends are often reassuring me with anecdotes about their children's behaviour. I used to feel a bit undermined by it as if they were trying to diminish DS's problems. Now, I appreciate that they're just trying to 'normalise' things for me.

Hope that things go well!

mysonben Sat 18-Jul-09 23:22:04

Debs40 ,Yes you took the words right out of my mouth.
There are lots of times when i think "he is ok , he's just a young kid after all" then later that day or the next day he will be so different he stims , hard to engage , doesn't make much sense and is so difficult, asd will have raised its head once more and i think he needs help we will have to go for that formal dx when we see the paed next time ( we are half expecting her to tell us she wants ds to be formally assessed because all the reports from nursery, senco and salt point to asd).

And when people like my sister tells me "it's ok my ds or such and such does that too" , i take it badly, i think they think i don't know what i'm talking about and i feel undermined like they know my own ds better than me iykwim.
I long for the day where i will be able to take it all in my stride . One day hopefully

lou031205 Sun 19-Jul-09 08:10:00

Sorry, coming back to this late.

Debs40 - apologies. I was very tired yesterday, and misread the tone of your post. Perhaps it is because I have read other threads of mysonben that made me 'know' it was more than just NT routine.

Cjones - that's incredible! Yes, DD has changed her routines over time, and sometimes things reappear again.

cjones2979 Sun 19-Jul-09 11:42:15

Lou, we get that a lot too. The main one for my DS is throwing !!

He has always been a thrower, right from a very early age. He likes to throw things, he sometimes does it out of frustration or anger, but the majority of the time it's just another obsession.

He throws things on top of his wardrobe in his bedroom, over the sofa, over the fence in the garden, anywhere he can really, and also anything he can !!!! At school, he has to throw his sun hat over the fence every day.

2 summers ago, when he was 3.8, it was at its worst. He was used to being at nursery, so the holidays are always a struggle. But this particular year, all he seemed to do was throw. It really got me down as I could do nothing to stop him.

However, when he went back to nursery after the summer holidays, the throwing died down & was replaced with something else. Then last year it reared its head again until he started school & then was replaced by swearing (one particular word over & over)

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