Life on the Autism spectrum

Autism & feeling scared, worried or angry

Fears and anxieties are common among people on the spectrum. The people we spoke with discussed a range of fears including fire, answering the phone, terrorist attacks, germs, going out and of not doing something that would have serious consequences. These fears could dominate people’s lives at times.
Some people had learnt to manage some of their fears and anxieties by forcing themselves to confront particular situations, like crowded gigs, even though they knew they would hate it. A few recalled a paralysing fear of putting their hand up to answer questions in class. For example: "It was sort of, I don’t want to call it paranoia, but I guess it was something like that stopped me. It was sort of the fear, feeling that someone was going to say something about the question being silly or the question wasting time or it being stupid or whatever."
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One woman said she spent her life frightened of having her children taken away from her because “I was a bad mother because I was relying on them so much”.
Some people reflected on their anxieties and tried to make sense of them.
Anger and Frustration
Several people talked about anger and frustration and discussed how difficult they found it to manage their tempers. One wife described her husband as "a frightening person, partly because he is enormously well informed… He uses one-upmanship and I think he has, he despises those who have not had his very great advantages.” She described him having terrible tantrums like “a five year old”; he had recently had his driving licence taken away after losing his temper in a “mild road rage” incident.
In addition to losing their tempers, a few people talked about being aggressive either towards themselves or other people. One person said, “I’ve had urges before to do things to people like that I wouldn’t normally do. It’s not in my nature to do like you know” and talked about his fear of doing something violent to another person. He reflected on how “the thing is I’ll feel awful. It’s not in my nature to be, to murder anyone. You know, it’s just, I think it’s just the anger can get that much sometimes that I can’t control it.
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Last reviewed July 2016.
Last updated November 2010.


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