Throwing stuff out

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-07-2008
Throwing stuff out
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 5:52am

Is this an Aspie thing? or just something designed to drive me crazy?

Euan (11, Asperger's Syndrome) has a bit of a problem throwing things out. We went through his room last week trying to clear it out and tidy it for the new school term, and he had several complete meltdowns. He just could not throw anything out, including tiny scraps of torn paper that were once part of a number counting game that was his homework in the third grade...

I don't really get this, as he is generally an ordered person who really likes things to be tidy and organised (not least so he can find them again) and now that we have prised some of the truly disgusting mounds of crap away from him he loves his new clean, tidy room (he even folds his laundry now, hurrah!). But we still have a whole cupboard full of stuff, including soft toys, games, old artwork folders etc, than he cannot bear to chuck - even though I *know* I will be able to draw dust bunnies in the cupboard door before long and I will bet any amount of money when it comes to the next big 'clear up' in a few month's time he won't even have opened the darned cupboard, let alone looked at or played with anything inside.

Is this an Aspie thing or just a Euan thing? anyone else encountered it, how did you deal with it? My house is already overwhelmed with 'precious' things (shells, feathers, bits of leaf stuck to egg cups, half finished models of star trek spaceships) that no-one is allowed to throw out, if I give in to this none of us will be able to actually get out of the house for the junk mountain!

Kirsty, mum to Euan (11, Aspergers Syndrome) Rohan (7, NT, no excuse apart from chronic hoarding and being too lazy to tidy up) and Maeve (4, NT, also no excuse apart from ongoing craft-mania)

"My definition of housework is to sweep the room with a glance"

"My definition of housework is to sweep the room with a glance"

Follow my blog on


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Tue, 08-03-2010 - 12:36pm

My ASD son has very little trouble giving anything away. However, his brother......... he has a major problem with change.

I think it maybe two separate conditions.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 08-03-2010 - 11:17am

What we do in our house is take photos of precious things "for memories"--with mine (and for me!), it's the worry that you'll forget the thing. As a result, I have tons of digital pics of old schoolwork, projects, etc. For each year (school year), I have a collection of "keeps", but they have to fit in a particular bag (bags for moving keyboards are fantastic, and they've moved my company a couple times so I've snagged them after the moves...I like these because they'll fit the oversize craft paper. In addition, the kids have a "trophy" shelf that they can put these things on, but again, that's limited space. So, for us, it's the limited-space thing, plus the way to preserve things "forever" for memories.

Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-25-2007
Fri, 07-30-2010 - 4:49pm

Wow. My aspie is just the opposite. He isn't attached to anything. If I ask him to clean his room and throw out anything he doesn't need he will even throw out the shirt he was wearing the day before!

"Doesn't that shirt still fit you?"

"Uh, I don't think so."

"But you wore it yesterday!"

"Oh yeah, well maybe I could get one more day out of it..."

We also argue over those composition notebooks that they insist we buy every year and never use.

"That was for science last year, we can throw it out."

"But it hasn't been written in, it's still new."

Yeah, but it was for last year's science and I will not have that class again next year.."

I guess he'll make a good husband someday : )

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2003
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 12:36pm

I don't know much about it, but I believe hoarding tendencies are anxiety related, so it could technically fall under the Aspie umbrella, but more indirectly than directly.

Do a little research on hoarding and anxiety and see if you have any lighbulb moments.


visit my blog at


visit my blog at
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2009
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 12:02pm

My DS (13) is the same way. What I've done all along was to go through his things while he was away (usually at school, or out with DH), bag the stuff I didn't think he played with anymore, and store the bags in our storage area.

I'd keep the bags for six months, and if he told me that he was looking for one of the toys that I'd bagged, then I would quietly go get it and drop it somewhere in his room. After six months, all remaining toys in storage would be donated.

Avatar for turtleemom
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-25-2007
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 11:32am

Same here.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2003
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 11:08am

We had a similar experience recently while cleaning out my (nearly) 8 year old daughter's room. She has this habit of taking gift bags and filling them with stuff (random things of varying value) and never opening or emptying them again. It drives me a bit nuts, and the purging always leads to meltdowns. Likewise, getting rid of precious items is a problem. She has toys from infancy, that she never really played with in infancy, that cannot leave her room. Tiny bits of paper, wee plastic parts of long lost games, and half used tubes of lip gloss are all treasures. I handle some of it by slipping things into the trash bag while she's distracted, but I can only get away with so much deception.

Fortunately, giving things to her 3 year old brother has become a reasonable compromise. His room now looks like a bomb went off, but since it's his room she will not expect a say in what he keeps, and what goes to Good Will (I hope). I'd like to have a yard sale, but I'm afraid both of the kids will demand that I return things from the garage to the house, and I'm not sure I have the strength of will to handle it right now.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2006
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 7:33am

Hi Kristy,

Your house sounds very familiar. I have a 12 yo PDD-NOS (AS?) and a 7 yo NT.

Here are three things I do to help clean up. First, I take things out of their room when they are out of the house but only things they probably won't miss. If it is a questionable item, I put it in my room and if they don't ask for it within a month, I donate it or throw it away.

The second thing is I bribe them. Yes, I know it's bad but I do it. I will give the kids money for getting rid of things. They like to have yard sales so I give them a little bit of money for every item they "sell." Then I donate or throw away what they have given me.

The third thing I do is to have my children look around their room and the playroom. I ask if they think they have a lot or a little amount of toys (they typically agree that they have a lot). Then, I explain to them how there are many children in our area who have no toys at all. I then ask them if they would like to "share" their toys with another child who doesn't have any or many toys (with the understanding that share in this instance means not getting the item back). I just did this method with my kids last week (and we are still in the process of completing it). I gave away about 6 garbage bags full of stuffed animals, games, collector cards, Legos, Teck Deck, etc. The children can be very generous when it comes to helping others.

I don't know if one of these ideas would work for your child(ren) or not, but they work for me.

Another thing you might like to try, if your son is into writing, is to have him "inventory" the items he is getting rid of and either write a description about it or what he liked about it or take a picture of it so he always has a concrete memory of it. Making a "scrap book" may be fun for both of you. Get some blank pages of construction paper, take a picture of an item (maybe with ds in the picture), then glue the picture centered but towards the top of the paper, then have you ds write something about the picture: why he liked it, who he played with it with, etc.

Just some thoughts. Hope something works out for you.