Is My 3Yo OCD?

Updated on April 24, 2013
S.C. asks from Anaheim, CA
13 answers

Hi! I have a wonderful 3yo daughter. She is still working on her talking tho it seems like its improving everyday. She can repeat our words but is still struggling to complete a sentence. I know we should take her to preschool as speech therapist advised it since he thinks nothings wrong with her (my daughter is good with singular & plural) .

Lately,we have observed that she would categorize everything and make sure theyre all in a straight line. Example: she has 25 small toy cars (matchboxes). She would gather all Maters,all mcqueens,etc and put them all in a straight line. She does the same thing with her crayons. Also one time,hubby and I freaked (lol) coz when we walked in her room,all the plates and plastic food in her play kitchen are perfectly arranged! Like the Stepford Wives just came in lol

Is she OCD? there are times when her toys are just scattered around and she doesnt mind it as long as shes busy with something else. Although she throws a fit if she sees me picking them up

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your time! I guess I was just being too paranoid. Been on so many sites and im glad i found this one. I've been reading a lot about this and even asked her doctor but as a mom i really wanted to hear real answers from real moms and not some cookie cutter theory. Thank you

For those asking,the reason she's not in preschool is because I am just starting to potty train her. Hopefully she'll be fully trained next school season

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answers from Boston on

Normal, and a good trait! If she were up at night doing this or refusing to eat because of the organizing than it might be problematic but sounds ok.

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answers from Portland on

Okay, your kid is FINE. Worked with kids for 20 years... the kids which I saw doing this.... well, one of them is on a full-ride scholarship to a good science college now. NO autism spectrum (sorry, but people look for ASD in nearly everything these days) In my todder group, she'd line up the baby dolls, each on a pillow, then cover each with a blanket, etc. Very organized. Little kids LIKE organization. Lining stuff up is no big deal.

Learn about developmental stages of kids and please, don't jump to such damaging conclusions. (I have a sibling who has OCD and I HATE how the term is so trendy and overused. Real OCD is debilitating. This is sorting and categorization. Spot on for the age.)

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I have a son with OCD and what you're describing doesn't raise any red flags. If she HAD to sort things or she'd act like the world was coming to an end, then you'd need to worry. For instance, she'd be sorting and you'd say it's time for dinner. She would refuse to stop and insist on finishing before dinner. When you said no, time for dinner, and made her stop, she'd lose it. Crying hysterically for an hour like something horrendous had happened. OCD is when they feel compelled to do something and there's genuine fear something bad will happen if they don't.

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answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't take the sorting and organizing, alone, to be signs that she has OCD. This is what kids do at that age--they sort things. It is a skill that is encouraged in preschool, and she's doing it on her own. Bravo for her!!

Are there other things that she does that are concerning?

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answers from Augusta on

My son used to do this . He is not OCD. And now at 8 I wish he was that clean.
He does constantly build and design things, he has the brain of an engineer. I don't know if that is related to the putting everything in lines and the categorizing everything.

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answers from Washington DC on

If you enroll her in preschool, you will have a great opportunity to find out what's typical for a kid her age. Teachers can tell you; you'll learn from other parents; you'll have the chance to observe a lot of other three-year-olds. You'll also get to hear real answers from real moms whom you'll get to know. If the speech therapist has recommended preschool, why not send her? It sounds like it would be great for her.

The categorizing objects, as others have noted, is normal. In fact, it's good for her! If she can walk away from it and she can be OK with things being out of order while she's busy with something else, she likely does not have OCD. Take care that you're not too quick to look for a "diagnosis" and a "condition" when she does something that seems odd to you -- that's why it would be good to get her into preschool. I will give you a reality check on how kids her age tend to act. Let her go and you'll both learn a lot and have fun!

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answers from New York on

For piece of mind I would have her evaluated. Someone one will come to your house and interact w her and can give you a better idea. I think they are either state or school services. Occasionally lining up toy and order can be a sign of a spectrum disorder, yet can also just be her thing!

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answers from Portland on

Putting things in categories is a good thing to do. It shows intelligence. What might be indicative of difficulty is if putting things in a certain order is so important to her that she freaks when things aren't in a specific order.

Because you're concerned I suggest that you take her for an evaluation so that you can know for sure that she is OK and so that you can learn more about her development. You can also gain this information by reading up on child development.

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answers from Rochester on almost 3 year old behaves the same way. Lines things up, sorts them out, wants things (generally) very organized...and there's nothing wrong with that. The difference comes when they aren't allowed or able to do those things, for whatever reason, and become upset, inconsolable, etc. She's obviously not feeling compulsion over this, and OCD is "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder." We're all allowed to be obsessive over's the compulsion side that creates a disorder.

That being said, the fact that she is 3 and can only parrot back what other people have said and not form sentences of her own...perhaps it's time to have an evaluation done for speech therapy.

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answers from Columbus on

Signs of strong math readiness.

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answers from New York on

You need to call the town to see if she qualifies for the town preschool. She sounds very delayed in her speech. The organizing may or may not be an issue. She doesn't have to be potty trained to go to the town preschool.



answers from Los Angeles on

I want to encourage you that whatever is the case, God made your child the unique individual that she is. Also, to encourage you that "orderliness" and meticulousness is a gift if she continues to be that way :)
I have 3 kids, and all are completely different personalities. The second child is a boy and was an extremely late talker, and we were scared something was wrong with him. He seriously didn't talk until after he was 3, only had a few words in his vocabulary, and would sometimes finally say a word for a week and then never say it again. But we had him evaluated by our local resource center and they didn't feel he was delayed enough to warrant services.
Truth be told, I think he could have benefitted from some speech therapy, and I do still believe he has a bit of a processing issue. He still struggles sometimes to put his thoughts into words. But no one but us really notices.
And often, kids that are "deficient" in one area have amazing strengths in another area. And yes, that kid loved to line up all his cars in rows and did funny stuff like that, but really, he's just a more perceptive kid and by far the most gifted in keeping on track with stuff than my other two kids.
On top of that, he is very mathmatically inclined, as well as still obsessed with cars and things of that nature. But it's not an unhealthy obsession, it's just his "thing". Just like I was obsessed with balance sports and the ocean, and because a professional surfer. Some people are just meant to do certain things.
And this boy is also very gifted with athletics, he just learns better when he is moving and using his body. He expresses himself physically, rather than verbally. He is extremely sweet and loving and picks up on people's emotions. So being someone that is not so quick to speak can be a really good thing. Nevertheless, if your kid doesn't make progress at some point, evaluation would be warranted.
Lastly, read the book, Late Talking Children by Thomas Sowell. Good read for people whose kids talk late but aren't autistic.


answers from San Diego on

I have found that on any given day at any given time, my son can seem OCD, sociopathic, ADD, ADHD or just plain cuckoo. My husband jokes that sometimes it's like living with a crazy person. Can you imagine if adults still freaked out, fell on the ground crying if their cookie broke?

Anywho, it's perfectly normal for a 3 year old to start categorizing things. That means she's aware of the world around her and is trying to put everything in its place. Don't be surprised if she starts pointing out people of a different skin color - this is when children need to categorize in order to understand their world. Rather than admonishing, just agree with her observation and point out to her that many things come in different shapes, sizes and colors - flowers, animals, etc. It doesn't matter what it is, she will categorize it for awhile and start making comparisons with herself and her own family. This is about the time that kids start to separate boy stuff and girl stuff too.

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