Asperger and the Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is a common complication when you are diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Chances are that progress or development such as learning new skills or meeting new people is even harder for those who have this combination. Being afraid of failure is closely related to fear of rejection and most of the time those who have it also fear being criticized by others. These fears can delay your progress in many ways because fear of failure can immobilize you.

For people with an autistic disorder it is a very uncomfortable uneasy feeling to try new things or step out of their daily routines and rituals. Their rigid thinking and love for sameness prevents them from doing so. The fear of failing can contribute also to this problem. Being afraid of making a mistake or error can hold you back in taking a risk at something you have never done before. Because failing makes their stress levels go sky high most of those with Autism never risk it. We have all heard the stories of those children with autism who did not speak until they knew they were able to do it perfectly and instead of starting with just words they would wait until they could pronounce a complete sentence.

What can you do to help?

If your goal is to make those with Asperger feel less anxiety about making a mistake you have to encourage them to take action, take the next step or open their minds to something new. Explain to them that failure is a way of learning new things and everybody has the right to make mistakes and learn from them. If you never make a mistake you never learned anything. This might take time and much persuading on your part but if the environment is safe enough and they feel supported no matter what happens they might give it a try. It can also be helpful if you make a mistake yourself and show them how you deal with it or teach them to not be so hard on themselves. Teach them that change is good: “if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you always got”. Reward them for trying something new no matter what the outcome!

The best message they might need is that failure has to do with outcomes, results or behavior but never with personality or characteristics. Whenever you communicate with those who have Asperger be sure to make a huge difference between the behavior being bad or them being bad. I always tell my sons: I don’t like what you DO instead of I don’t like YOU. Please keep that in mind and they won’t feel rejected as a whole person but corrected in their behavior. Such a small step can make a huge difference.

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