Truth and AS    


Aspies do not have an early natural, untrained ability to lie or to detect lies when spoken by others.  They may not understand the full consequences of the misbehavior of other children or adults, and often find themselves "holding the bag" while their peers' misbehavior remains unnoticed or denied by children and adults who do know how to tell convincing lies.  Because the unwritten rules of social behavior and language remain mysteries to them, they become attached to enforcing rules and often gain the reputation of being little super cops or informers in situations where other children commonly ignore or break rules undetected without consequences.  Some AS individuals continue this pattern of being "enforcers" into their adulthood, insisting that others adhere to rules and inconvenient routines that are regularly broken or ignored.  As an example, one AS son thought it was a mortal sin for his mother to go through the express check out line with more than the maximum number of items.  She had eleven items; the sign said nine!  How dare she break the rules!  He would have a dramatic meltdown as others in adjacent lines stared in amazement at his behavior. It didn’t matter to him that the Checker had asked her to come into that line.  The rules were posted, and she had broken them.

            AS individuals can also be blunt and disarmingly honest. Observing someone on the street or in a store, they may loudly say, "Look at her.  She is soooo fat! She should go on a diet!"   Well, that might be true but it is socially inappropriate to say this in public because it hurts the other person's feelings.  AS children have difficulty understanding their own feelings, and therefore they also have trouble understanding the feelings of others.  "Why would it hurt her feelings as every one can see that she is fat?  I am only saying what ever one else knows to be the truth."  Without careful, repetitive training, they simply do not understand "socially unacceptable" public observations.  Some parents teach their children the "No's" without teaching them how to express their concerns in socially appropriate ways.  Rather than saying the wrong thing, or learning how to tell socially approved white lies or to express their feelings later, in safety, many parents adopt an inappropriately rigid response to the social misbehavior of their children.  At the point where it no longer becomes possible for parents or care givers to watch every word or behavior of the child, it is essential that our children understand their own particular "flavor" of AS and start to deal with the world in a comfortable way from an accurate self-understanding. 

 The overwhelming desire for literal meanings of words, combined with the desire for truth, can cause problems for children as they are growing up.  For example, a well-intentioned teacher who asks that the class take a “nap” might find a child who refuses to sit down.   That child when asked why he/she is still in the book section of the room might respond truthfully with “I’m not tired”.   If the teacher is willing to reword the request “Will all of you please find a place on the mat and lie down for a few minutes?” the problem is averted.  If the teacher angrily demands the child  “take a nap” there will be a battle of the wills, and the student will suffer the wrath of the controlling, domineering teacher. This is a very important lesson in word meaning that everyone associated with a person with AS should learn.

 Disclosing AS to others needs to become a careful, well-thought-out process.  Inappropriate disclosure has many uncontrollable and unexpected consequences; so children and newly diagnosed adults should be given ample opportunity to role-play, engage in guessing games about "What would you do if?”  The life-long knowledge about their own traits, strengths, and weaknesses should be something that the AS person should know how and when to hide as well as how and when to disclose. 

 As the AS individual has matured, it is possible that they have learned how to lie as a coping mechanism with social problems.  They do not see the difficulty with not telling the truth, because it accomplishes whatever their short-term goal is.  They do not see the consequences to others for they are unable to understand any impact their actions might have on others.   Remember that all comments made by the AS individual will be likely in a monotone with little facial expression, and perhaps little eye contact—this will make it very difficult to identify a lie versus the truth in an AS adult. Not all AS individuals will “learn” this ability to lie, but those that do may use it without remorse. It is therefore important that AS children be properly taught the reasons for being truthful, and the acceptable reasons for not disclosing something at a given time.

What is AS
Official Criteria for Asperger Syndrome
Basic Characteristics
Traits by Age
Truth and AS  
Family and AS
Should You Seek a Diagnosis?

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  "I know of nobody who is purely Autistic or purely neurotypical.  Even God had some Autistic moments, which is why the planets all spin."  ~ Jerry Newport

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Updated 04/02/2014