Aspergers and the "Fixated Personality" Type

In previous posts, we talked about the “avoidant personality,” the “approach personality,” and the “disruptive personality” in Aspergers (high functioning autistic) children, teens and adults. In this post, we will examine the fourth and final type called the “fixated personality.”

The fixated personality type can be characterized by a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and the need to control one’s environment (e.g., to have things in a particular order).

Some of the symptoms of the fixated personality type may include:
  • compulsion to make lists and/or schedules
  • feelings of excessive doubt and caution
  • obsessive need for cleanliness
  • perfectionism (that may sometimes interfere with task-completion)
  • preoccupation with order and organization
  • preoccupation with remembering and paying attention to minute details and facts
  • rigid following of rules and regulations
  • rigidity or inflexibility of beliefs
  • stubbornness
  • unreasonable insistence that others submit to his way of doing things

Some of the specific behavioral manifestations of the fixated personality type among Aspergers children and teenagers may include:
  • repeatedly checking homework
  • cleaning rituals
  • counting rituals
  • grooming rituals (e.g., hand washing, showering, teeth brushing)
  • hoarding and collecting things
  • ordering or arranging objects
  • repeating rituals (e.g., going in and out of doorways, needing to move through spaces in a special way, rereading, erasing, rewriting)
  • rituals to prevent harming self or others
  • rituals to undo contact with a "contaminated" person or object
  • touching rituals

Parents can look for the following possible signs of the fixated personality type:
  • continual expressions of fear that something terrible will happen
  • dramatic increase in laundry
  • persistent expressions of fear of illness
  • sudden drop in test grades
  • exceptionally long amount of time spent getting ready for bed
  • high, unexplained utility bills
  • holes erased through test papers and homework
  • raw, chapped hands from constant washing
  • reluctance to leave the house
  • requests for family members to repeat strange phrases or keep answering the same question
  • unproductive hours spent doing homework
  • unusually high rate of soap or paper towel usage

Environmental and stress factors can trigger fixated personality traits. These can include ordinary developmental transitions (e.g., starting school) as well as significant losses or changes (e.g., death of a loved one, moving to a different home or city).

It can be helpful to keep family routines as normal as possible, and for all family members to learn strategies to help the Aspergers youngster. It is also important to not let the “fixations” be the boss of the house and regular family activities. Giving in to fixations does not make them go away.

“Fixated” Aspies become less fixated at different rates, so try to avoid any day-to-day comparisons and recognize and praise any small improvements. Keep in mind that it's the disorder that is causing the problem, not the child. The more that personal criticism can be avoided, the better.

Treatment for the fixated personality type can involve the following:
  1. Behavior therapy: Discussing with a psychotherapist ways of changing compulsions into healthier, productive behaviors. An effective form of this therapy has been found to be cognitive analytic therapy.
  2. Cognitive behavioral therapy: A systematic approach to changing unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
  3. Psychopharmacology: A psychiatrist may be able to prescribe medication to facilitate self-management and also enable more productive participation in other therapies.
  4. Psychotherapy: Discussion with a trained counselor or psychotherapist who understands the condition.


==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers & High-Functioning Autistic Teens

4 comments:

  1. When he played with Thomas the train, God help you if you knocked into his perfectly laid tracks.

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  2. My son would line up the silverware in descending order. If one became askew, he would get very upset. He also had patterns of walking on sidewalks and tiled floors.


    Meltdown city it would be for my child in that scenerio.


    Perfectionism. My son is 10. He wants to do everything perfect. He gets very mad if he has to erase while writing. He got a rip stick and spent hours on. We had lots of meltdowns about the rip stick.

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  3. So glad to find this group. Perfectionism in every aspect of a child's life can't ever be attained. Thus, my children's issues are magnified from daily tasks such as eating, brushing teeth, or combing hair. However, super-strict scheduling has helped them to function much better. I am a mom of 7, 5 have been formally diagnosed with Asperger's.

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  4. ...erasing, when my son was in 5th grade - he put a hole in his paper - ended up in a rage - and it was a mess... We began homeschooling shortly after that incident - been a great thing for him and for me!

    ReplyDelete