Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It's Got To Be Perfect

originally posted at snagglebox.com

Afraid to try.
Afraid of making mistakes.
Meltdowns after getting it wrong.
Obsessed about fixing errors.
Incredibly high standards.

Does this sound like anyone you know?

Yep, being a perfectionist can be a common autistic trait.

I’ve lost count of the number of times Max has rubbed through the paper trying to erase all evidence of a spelling mistake. If an art project doesn’t quite work out or a Lego model is put together incorrectly, it must be completely destroyed. If there’s so much as the tiniest imperfection in his food it gets thrown away. Colouring outside of the lines? Factual errors? Spelling mistakes and typos? These upset him greatly. Committing thoughts to paper causes him so much anxiety that he can’t even get started, yet suggestions or constructive criticism strike like daggers to his self-esteem. He strives for perfection, and won’t accept anything less.

And I understand him completely, because I’m exactly the same.

There are two sides to the perfectionist coin - striving to make everything perfect and getting upset when it's not. So while on the one hand setting high standards for yourself can create an admirable work ethic, the fear of making mistakes can also cause so much anxiety that it leads to frustration, depression, embarrassment, social isolation and meltdowns.

So why is it common in autism? Why is it so stressful, and what can you do to help?

Rigid thinking
Every task has a threshold that defines how far we have to push ourselves towards achieving success. It’s called ‘good enough’ - somewhere short of perfection that allows us to stop and move onto something else. But ‘good enough’ can be a pretty vague concept, one that can be extra hard to understand if you have a tendency to think in absolutes. Right vs wrong. Good vs bad. When there are no shades in between then the stakes are raised and success becomes an all-or-nothing kind of deal.

To read more, click here....

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