For years, while raising my Autistic daughter Sophia, the occupational therapists would harp on me to interrupt her any time she resorted to lining things up or got too obsessive about stacking and sorting. There is one part of me that agrees I need to stretch her to move outside of her instincts and learn to "use her imagination" more. But on the other hand, what if her imagination just led her down a path that was different from my imagination and most other children? What if there was something special that she saw in a set of objects that I didn't see? Testing this thought one day, I sat her down at the dining room table and poured out a bag of M&Ms in front of her. I said nothing to her and pretended not to pay attention to her. I sat for several minutes watching her sort the M&Ms first into groups of like colors. Then, she began creating two rows of different patterns. Those that remained that did not complete the pattern where popped in her mouth. She paused for a moment staring at the M&Ms as if there was some self gratification (without any facial expression) as if it were a work of art to be studied further. She then began kicking her chair and eating one M&M at a time.
My theory proved true. Sophia's idea of creative play and imagination is just as beautiful as the way my son used to find creative ways to fling M&Ms from one room of the house to another. It is not what some would call normal imaginative play but after enjoying her special and delicate display of these M&M's I wondered what else she could design. So my advice is to continue "stretching" your Autistic child's imagination but don't surpress the beautiful imagination that is trying to find a way to express itself. You may be emotionally surprized and amazed!
See a picture of this at www.sensoryhippo.com