Tuesday, April 5, 2011

People with Asperger's Can Be Honest. Very Honest!

Many people with Asperger's have a hard time with distorting the truth on any level. This trait can be really nice. For example, I reward my daughter if she has a good day without crying. Many times, I have no idea whether she cried. When I ask my daughter, she'll be honest about it, even if it means she doesn't get her reward.

But there are times when complete honesty can be problematic. Like the time when I complain about being old, and she'll answer, "You are old!" She doesn't understand that there are times when honesty isn't always the best policy.

Last week, I was trying to get my daughter to get off the computer so she could make her gymnastics class on time. She was having a really hard time pulling herself away. A game she was playing wasn't doing what she wanted it to do, and she was refusing to turn off the computer off. The more she tried, the angrier I became, and the more upset she became. I finally threatened her with no computer time the next day if she didn't leave the computer at that moment. This worked, but she cried on her way to gymnastics. When we arrived, she told me that she didn't want to go.

I knew that she'd have a blast and that it would change her mood in an instant. The conversation in the parked car went something like this:

ME: The classes are expensive, and you should just give it a try. If you aren't having fun, you could tell the teacher you aren't feeling well and excuse yourself from the class, and I will take you home.

MY DAUGHTER: (giving me a horrified expression) I can't tell him that! It's not true!

ME: It's true! I didn't say to tell him you're sick--just that you're not feeling well.

MY DAUGHTER: But telling him I'm not feeling well is implying that I'm sick! Oh, never mind, I'll come up with something on my own!"

Of course, she didn't have to come up with any excuses. She broke into a huge smile as soon as she walked through the doors and had a great class!

She's only 7, and she's keeping me on my toes!


  1. Awww,kids are so sweet! I love NSLM's honesty-even when it smarts my vanity a wee bit. :)

  2. I love that exchange. I'm glad she had a blast and didn't have to come up with something that didn't imply she was sick.

  3. That is hilarious that we blogged about exactly the same subject today :-) There's no room for self-delusion when you have a child on the spectrum, is there? They are quite happy to point out the reality of your age/weight/etc.

    One day, Billy was blowing on Willow's tummy and making her laugh. Then he stood up and said, "Blow on Mama's tummy!"

    So I dutifully lifted my shirt a little so that he could blow on my tummy.

    He took one look at me, shook his head regretfully and pulled my shirt back down over my belly-button. "This tummy is too big..." he announced, before walking sadly away.

    Out of the mouths of babes...

  4. I just had an aspbergers' student interrupt loudly, loudly, and more loudly a standardized test because he needed a paper and pencil. He really did need one, I guess.

  5. Just so you know, we ARE capable of lying and manipulating - especially when we get older, and especially if we are smart/aware! Just be prepared!

  6. I have so been there with the brutal honesty: first time at 18 mos. in the middle of a crowded optical center, "We don't put our hands in our penis!" at the top of his lungs. We were mortified. Everyone else erupted in laughter.

    As for getting "stuck" at the computer, a frequent occurrence, often resulting in the same type of confrontation you so eloquently described, and leading to more of those "truthful" moments.

    I need to be more observant regarding my son and the the events like your daughter's gymnastics experience. As he is older now, 12, these can often be teachable moments.

    Thanks for a good post!

  7. I love that trait in kids, not being able to lie is a gift that we will miss when they figure it out!
    My son is trying out the waters with us, but he thinks I have eyes everywhere and a built in lie dector, so I'm still winning the battle.
    Maybe I should anticipate being called to the carpet...better go figure out my game plan.

  8. I was so glad to see this post. I'm a grandmother of a 6-1/2 yr. old boy just diagnosed with PDD-NOS, at first thought to be Asperger's. He also melts down and cries when asked (told) that it's time to shut down Wii. He also goes to gymnastics and pretty much has that same conversation with his parents each time, then loves it when he gets there. I've been asked by DIL not to post anything on FB about him because my son (his father) is sort of in denial about his son's diagnosis and doesn't want it talked about or known. (I know he won't see this comment) But - they are handling it well and searching for and getting the help and support they need for their son's behaviors.
    Anyway, I enjoyed this post. Thank you.

  9. people often think my daughter is being bratty when she's just being honest. She doesn't have a bratty bone in her body, but it comes across so harsh to other people sometimes.

  10. Lub can also be a bit TOO honest. But your right he tells me exactly how his day went. What was good, what was bad, what he should have done differently. Some kids don't say a word when you ask how was school. Lub gives me a play by play.

  11. Honesty is always the best policy, it's sad to me that you can't appreciate this. Wanting to be lied to is like wanting someone to stab you in the back.

  12. My 4y/o can't lie, either. When he was having a problem at school and I got him to open up about it, I went in to the teacher to explain what had happened and she had this sharp intake of breath and said, "That's not true!"

    I paused for a second, completely stunned. B/c he CAN'T lie.

    Then, I realized she was talking to my son and telling him that what another little boy had told him wasn't true.

    Good thing I was stunned into silence b/c I would have gone OFF.

    P.S. Honesty is the best policy, but when you have a child who is brutally honest at all times, you do have to teach them when certain things aren't appropriate to say. Even if they are the truthe.

  13. I'll come up with something on my own...ha! Love it! I'm definitely not smart enough to be that girl's mother!

  14. It's so hard to teach the subtleties of human interaction! I often wonder why we can't be more honest and say something like "I'm just not enjoying myself here today."

    Of course, with the age thing, lies are a necessity :)

  15. Katie won't really lie, but she also won't blurt crap out, thankfully. Ben, on the other hand? He says to me today, out of the blue, I like looking at pictures of fat people. They make me laugh. And he WILL say this stuff in public. For some reason he has a fat obsession (thankfully he has not commented on his own mother) and I have no clue why. Regardless of how much we discuss how not nice those things are to say, how it hurts people's feelings, etc, it has yet to click. Now, he is NT, so maybe at some point that just clicks and he will shut the heck up...although the other day I told my husband he should have just lied to me about something (I wanted him to call the dentist, he didn't want to, I told him he should have told me he did) and he gave ME a horrified look and acted as though *I* had just cheated on him or something. Even a white lie he is vehemently against. I guess I am the only one in the family for which it is a forte.

  16. Oh my gosh, I love that!

    So glad she ended up having fun :)

  17. Hee! I love this!

    My kids lie All. The. Time.

    Including X. We start early around here.

  18. Important to learn: You don't always have to speak the truth. In fact, you don't always have to speak. Often, it's better to keep your mouth shut.

    The big problem with this: From time to time, you will find yourself in a situation in which neither the truth nor silence is a socially acceptable response. In this case, the socially acceptable response might be a lie, yes, or a half-truth (which you probably think of as a kind of lie), or any of various ways of dodging the question.

    Repeat after me, little lady: SOCIAL RULES ARE OFTEN JUST PLAIN WRONG. As they stand, the social rules often require the person _responding_ to come up with a polite lie. A better set of social rules would instead put the onus on the person _asking_ not to ask anything unless they are prepared for a brutally honest answer.

    Why do we have to obey society's rules? Simple. Society is made of many, many more people than us, and they are bigger and stronger and more powerful than us. The people know this, and they use this power to make life very hard for those who don't play by their rules. Don't worry, little girl: as the years pass, turning into decades, you, too, will learn to adapt, and adapt you will, probably very thoroughly. You might even look at your childhood behavior with shame.

  19. "I was so glad to see this post. I'm a grandmother of a 6-1/2 yr. old boy just diagnosed with PDD-NOS, at first thought to be Asperger's. He also melts down and cries when asked (told) that it's time to shut down Wii."

    Simple. Give him a watch and show him how to use it. So maybe if he has to be somewhere at 16:00, tell him not to start a new game after, say, 15:25 -- he has to finish the game he's on and then get set to go. Have him set an alarm if he needs it.

    Don't assume that because he's a child he can't make sense of a watch.

    I wonder if the Wii (or other game systems) can be programmed to enforce this kind of timing rule.

    Also, find out if there is a "save game" feature he can use on his games. This way, he might be able to save a half-finished game for later.