Perfectionism is intolerance for less-than-perfect performance. Many Asperger’s Disorder children strive for perfection and become intensely frustrated when they fail to achieve it. This is most often seen during classwork and homework where the Asperger’s Disorder child may erase his paper over and over, sometimes to the point of tearing it, in his quest to write a word perfectly. His inability to get it “just right” stops him from being able to move on and get his work done.
Perfectionism also appears in the Asperger’s Disorder child’s play. He is far more interested in organizing his special interest collection or telling his playmate all the rules he has created, and leaves little time to actually play. He can’t shift gears and start to play even though his playmate may threaten to find someone else to play with.
Most very young children will have several episodes of frustration when they cannot perform a task perfectly. With coaching from their parents, they quickly learn to accept that mistakes are part of life. The Asperger’s Disorder child, however, has repeated instances of being unable to cope with imperfection in himself and others. Crying, yelling, throwing objects, and quitting the task altogether are common outcomes of perfectionism.