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Terri Mauro

Does your child hoard things?

By January 31, 2007

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For my son, it's paper. He can't seem to get enough of the stuff. Store receipts, used shopping lists, scraps of newspaper, freebie car magazines from the supermarket, tattered gift bags, torn cardboard, trampled school announcements, Chinese takeout menus -- all wind up littering the floor of his room like snowfall, to the point that it almost takes a plow to pick it all up. Hoarding, whether it's paper products or foodstuffs or stuff belong to other family members, is a comforting behavior for many children with special needs, one that can be dangerous, unhealthful, or just messy as heck. What, if anything, does your child hoard? Make your pick from the poll at right, and share the details in the comments.

February 2, 2007 at 2:01 pm
(1) Lisa Rudy says:

My son is like a minah bird! he finds “treasures” everywhere — mostly bits of plastic — and stuff his pockets. When challenged, he immediately gives each piece of junk a special name and purpose (Oh, look! it’s a special fishing hook… a skateboard… a ship… a bed…). He’s figured out that if he can turn a scrap of trash into a toy, well, I just can’t bring myself to throw it away!


August 27, 2009 at 3:40 pm
(2) Tom Kauffman says:

This is amazing to me. My daughter collects everything. It is fascinating one minute and frustrating the next.

We bounce back and forth between letting her hoard items and trying to get her to leave others things alone.

When every door is locked – she’ll take pictures off of the walls in the living room, family room or wherever.

I’m glad I Googled the topic. Seems common. Unfortunately my daughter is non-verbal so she doesn’t offer any explanations!


November 10, 2009 at 8:37 am
(3) Sandra says:

I never thought of my kid as a hoarder before. I thought he was just sloppy and lazy. I realized there was more to it when he broke down bawling at 10 years old, when I was trying to help clean his room and wanted to throw away a box. He will keep paper, reciepts, boxes, he even has a box with bird nests he has collected. It’ s strange! I am not a hoarder myself, so I am not sure how to handle it without traumatizing him.

November 10, 2009 at 6:32 pm
(4) Mia says:

My son hoards garbage. He’ll find a reason to make use out of chip bags, cup lids, etc. It’s annoying. I just try to throw things away when he’s not home. Ironically, he doesn’t miss them either–he just likes to hold onto them.

November 11, 2009 at 1:36 pm
(5) Laura M Lawler says:

One of my grandsons is a horder. He is autistic (aspburger). He doesn’t seem to notice when I pitch something, however, sometimes much later (a year or more), he’ll say “I used to have that, till you threw it away”. I can’t throw something away in front of him or he has a melt down. I think he gets angry when he realizes I tossed a treasure, but doesn’t seem to show it.

November 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm
(6) Chris G says:

my son’s hoarding isn’t quite as severe as others, but he can’t get rid of anything willingly-I always do it when he’s not around and I save much more stuff than I would like. I often put stuff in a holding area in the basement or attic, then if he’s forgotten about it I pitch it, but he sometimes remembers years later. My standard answer: “I’m sure it will turn up sooner or later.” And here’s a funny story: he is now obsessed with real estate magazines. They are all over the house and my in-laws were babysitting and got nervous because they thought we were planning to move!

November 8, 2010 at 8:55 pm
(7) Amy says:

Our son is 5 and 1/2 and hoards. I opened the trunk of the car when I went for groceries a few weeks ago and it was full of things he stuck in there. It looked as though we were living out of our car. We had him evaluated and they suspect he has asperger’s. He wants to keep everything. He will get VERY upset should we even try to throw a McDonald straw wrapper away in front of him. This is so difficult for me especially since I am such a minimalist. I resist throwing things away because I know how upset he will become. I have recently purchased several large storage totes that he has various items in. It has helped. So glad we are not alone on this. Amy

November 10, 2010 at 2:54 pm
(8) Michele Lyn says:

My 8 yr old hoards. He finds something wonderful in just about anything that the rest of us would think of as junk. If it’s dirty or potentially dangerous, I have to take it away, but if not we have 2 special “boxes” that he can put his treasures in.

One is in the main part of the house and one in his bedroom. As he has gotten older it has been easier to remind him that his is where all his “findings” belong, and not all over the house. A few times a year (the boxes are pretty big) we go thru the box and really look at the items together, and we make the choice together with what stays and what goes.

This process can take days, but he feels like I’m not just throwing his stuff out, and he knows this way he is making room to find and collect more things.

November 25, 2010 at 9:07 pm
(9) Angela says:

I think my daughter is a hoarder, she has bags all over the house filled with toys, wripped up papertowels, and even twigs from outside, i thought she was making a nest like a little mouse would. Recently she started stashing stuff under her pillow and refuses to let me remove the items, I asked her isn’t that uncomfortable to sleep with all those lumps and she said no. I clear out the stuff from under the pillow the next day, and usually she does not notice and will just fill up the space again after a few days. Sometimes she does notice when something isn’t where she thought it was and she will carry on like it is the end of the world. She cannot even leave the house unless we bring atleast one or two things with her, my car looks like a garbage dump/toystore. She also comes home with stuff that belongs to other children and she will say her friend gave it to her, but I don’t really believe that. I am really not sure what to do to help her. How can I talk her out of it without bribery?

March 7, 2011 at 5:44 am
(10) Sarah says:

Angela – my daughter is just the same!! I constantly find little bags of “goodies” that she has filled up with totally random things. Every few days I have to clean out under her pillow for all the stuff she has under there… I ask the same question “How can you sleep like that??” She assures me its fine! When we go somewhere she needs to bring stuff with her, and when we’re somewhere else she asks to bring all these other things home! She also will find a reason to keep bits of useless rubbish – like a paper wrist band she had to wear at a birthday party (by the time she got it off it was totally ripped and crumpled, but she wanted to keep it!!)
I used to force her to get rid of these bits of crap, but I think it causes more anxiety and “hoarding” so I’ve had more success leaving it in a “thinking about” area, where the item goes for a day or so and she contemplates whether she REALLY needs it/wants it. Sometimes she’ll decide to keep it – in which case, fine – and other times she decides it IS rubbish and should go in the bin (when that happens we reward her with lots of praise, and she feels pretty good about herself.)

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