Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Curious About Lots of Lists

Because my son has been pretty stable on good meds for a good long while I feel a great sense of relief after all the nightmare and traumatic scenarios we have survived over the years and very little disturbs me about him anymore because nothing is ever as bad today as it once was (knock wood)…BUT having said that. I find I have time to notice subtle nuances I maybe didn’t pay as much attention to before because of always being in a crisis mode…little things…like the fact that he makes lists of everything…and remembering he did this as a child too…different lists over the years but kind of ‘OCD’ style lists, I recall as a child he once made a list of every make and model car he ever saw…on the road, on TV in books or magazines…any and all…which lead to a “game” we play when driving to this day…doing it since he was in 1st grade…shouting out anytime we see an out of state license plate…“There’s Texas!” …“I see and Idaho” …kind of a funny quirk…I find it endearing…but now he is on another list of every kind of band and musical artist he comes across…these lists get pretty long- I’ve seen dozens of pages for them before…he says it is music he is interested in but it seems more like a mere compilation of discovery. When he was very ill his lists made no sense at all and were more like a nightmarish collage. He has done a lot of lists over the years and maybe it is kind of an odd little hobby or something but since he is on the autism spectrum as well I think it may be a bit symptomatic of that…Just pondering things out of curiosity…not complaining about it…just seeing my son in different ways…non traumatic ways for a change…feeling thankful for him as he is today…interested if anyone else sees an excessive list making thing going on with their loved one maybe a loved one that has both the sz and slight autism like my son?

Yes, lists and notes. He does that all the time. I don’t know if it’s just a comorbid thing – I’m autistic without schizophrenia and I don’t don’t do that, but of all the autistic and schizophrenic people I’ve met with sole diagnoses I’ve never heard of them making lists or notes for anything.

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I started reading and immediately thought that lists is an autism thing, then you confirmed. I make lists because my brain starts spitting out stuff that I (apparently) need to write down but it does so at really odd times and if I don’t write them down I won’t ever get the information again. I’ve done this for as long as I remember, it is quite useful for planning stuff because I rarely if ever forget to take things somewhere. My lists are always some form of to-do lists. About twelve years ago I started making my lists and scribbles in diaries so now have a chronological series of them.

If I could offer a possible reason for this it would be that I could never remember things for more than a few minutes so somebody must have started me writing things down and over time because it was beneficial, it formed a habit. Autism creates a lot of habitual behaviors. If your son started writing lists as a child and it was beneficial to him, it is very likely he does it habitually now.

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Sounds a bit familiar, my son as a child when he took an interest in something it went all out for that thing and that thing only.
It was dinosaurs, then cars, then trains and buses.
He knew where every bus went, aged 7 his teacher would ask him what bus to get to A place, we lived about 10 miles from the places but he still knew the bus to get on to get there.
He would have me type up timetables and routes of buses after we got a computer. Before that yes he would write down the routes, timetables etc religiously every night , i thought then it was his interest, his hobby but as you say , now I look back and wonder.

He did it when he first became ill too, a huge file of stuff on his laptop, things to take note of, look out for and stay safe from.

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I’m not autistic, but I’m a list person.
It helps me remember, helps me organize my thoughts and gives me a sense of control.

If I know I have it on a list, it’s one less thing I have to worry about.

Even if I lose the list, it helps with memory. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but people all over the place now are talking about the research study that says the physical act of writing something down on paper helps you remember things longer.

For me, it seems to help. Not only is there the mind/body connection, but I tend to visualize things that I’ve written - not typed.

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I’m with you on lists as reminders…You know, grocery lists, appointment lists…So on…I think that is pretty common. I do often lose them but like you said they help with memory. My son’s lists seem different somehow. Like he “has to” do it…And I get the memory thing but oddly enough…He will do this for a couple of months or longer ( this current list of musical groups) and then one day he will throw it all away. I always found that to be curious…To seemingly work so diligently on something that ends up in the trash. I have asked him why he has thrown his lists away, and often times he says he doesn’t know, he just did. Down the road another one will start up.

I can relate to that. One autistic thing is obsessions. They start, they run and they disappear just like that. It is very useful if the obsession is about something that has a valuable outcome- I can spend two years on an obsession that results in intellectual property and then have absolutely no interest in it. Conversely I can have something that I really need to finish like restoring an old car that I started five years ago and have absolutely no interest in it and have to wait for as long as it takes the obsession to start again. It is frustrating and clumsy but workable in a way.

If your son is obsessing about very specific lists at any one time then I’d say that is fairly normal. If he loses interest in a list completely then that is also very normal. If you could somehow gently direct his obsession to something that has a useful outcome (something extremely complex mind you, the autistic mind doesn’t like basic things) then you may find his obsessions can build into something that has a valuable outcome.

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your input is very helpful, thank you

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