Asperger's and lying

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TerryJ2, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I've been searching the threads for this topic and haven't had any luck, so I'll start a new one.
    I know that bona fide Aspies have trouble lying, and that Aspie Lites tend to be able to lie a little bit.
    I'm asking this because my son has been lying to his teachers and us more and more often and is getting better at it. He is really manipulative and is constantly lying. It's to the point where, if his lips are moving, we know he's lying.
    He doesn't have the high-end social skills of a sociopath, but he doesn't flail ridiculously like an Aspie, either.
    I am just sick of the bold-faced lies.
    How does he do it? Should we have him re-evaluated?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't really know what Asperger's-lite means. If you have it, you have it. Aspies are high functioning autistics. I'd say lying is not a trait of Aspergers.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, this is a more complex topic than it seems. My own understanding of Asperger's and high-functioning autism has had to evolve as we learn more form our own kids.

    Now, about lying - ALL KIDS LIE. At some stage. Or they try to. But kids whose social skills are not so automatic, get caught out in a lie far more easily. Over time, getting caught in a lie, especially if it happens almost every time, builds in a conditioned response to not lie. Similarly if lying makes a child feel "icky" because they either fear getting caught, or the internal conflict of truth/non-truth upsets their thinking, they will learn to not lie. To avoid lies. A Pavlovian response at its best.

    Now,what kind of lies are there? Again, younger children try to lie with "I didn't do it." This is the simplest lie and therefore easiest to tell. I remember when difficult child 3 was in Grade 3 and I had assured his teacher,
    difficult child 3 is autistic, and therefore cannot lie."
    The teacher later came back at me and said, "Well, I saw him shove Jack while the kids were waiting in lines. I went up to difficult child 3 and asked him why he had shoved jack,, and he replied, 'I didn't do it,' even though I had seen it with my own eyes. When I told him I had seen it, he still tried to convince me he hadn't done it. So autistic kids CAN lie!"

    So I had to modify my own theory. And over time, and observing my older kids, I can see where it comes from.

    As kids gain more social skills, their ability to "make up stories" also develops. Now, they also say that a kid with autism has no imagination. I also know that is wrong. If difficult child 3 hadn't been so classically autistic, his ability to write stories would have lost him his diagnosis. As for easy child 2/difficult child 2 - she won a writing competition when she was 12, she writes with incredible detail in her stories. She loves fashion design and even as a very young child (2 years old), would draw intricate detail. So these kids can be creative.

    Aspie vs "Aspie-lite" - if you look at the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire, you an see that there is a range of scores. difficult child 3 scores moderate on the scale. difficult child 1 scores a bit better. easy child 2/difficult child 2 scores on the border or "normal" and "mild". Those on the border tend to get the "Aspie-lite" labels.

    Diagnosing Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is still subjective, despite tools such as the questionnaire. It all comes down to how the diagnostician defines each trait. Our pediatrician does not believe easy child 2/difficult child 2 is fully Aspie, although his original diagnosis was "she has some Asperger's traits." His main reason for now saying, "She's not Aspie," is "She makes good eye contact with me." But she is an adult, she has taught herself to make eye contact and finds it easier with people she knows well (such as the pediatrician).

    Also, there is a difference between Asperger's and high-functioning autism. Part of the problem - the definitions are not static, they are shifting like quicksand at the moment. In our area, it's been made repeatedly clear to us that the difference is - autism as a diagnosis means that at some point, there was a history of language delay. Even though difficult child 3 now scores as normal to above normal with vocabulary, there was a time where his language delay was significant and causing a problem. At 4, he had the language of a 2 year old as assessed by several speech pathologists. difficult child 1, on the other hand, had no history of language delay.
    difficult child 3 - loves people, was very outgoing, had no 'stranger danger' fear. easy child 2/difficult child 2 - also no stranger danger fear. Often she would have left the mall willingly with a total stranger, especially a male with facial hair. difficult child 1 - very withdrawn, reserved, hated people looking at him.
    Face blindness - difficult child 3 and easy child 2/difficult child 2. Not full face blindness, but partial. difficult child 1 - very good visual memory including for faces.
    Creativity - difficult child 3 and easy child 2/difficult child 2 are gifted storytellers and also can write good essays. difficult child 1 - a huge struggle, he cannot mentally multi-task.

    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is very complex. difficult child 3's language delay automatically put him in the autism category. His first diagnosis was "mild-moderate autism spectrum disorder". We were told he would never be able to be educated and would have to go to a special school for autistic or intellectually handicapped kids. However, once his language skills caught up, a re-assessment described him as "high-functioning autism" and finally gave us an IQ score that came close to making sense. But he did not lose the autism diagnosis in favour of Asperger's, because despite being 'normal' with language now, he had that history. he had been language delayed, therefore would always be autistic.

    difficult child 1 and easy child 2/difficult child 2 never had the slightest sign of language delay. If anything, they both seemed gifted, especially easy child 2/difficult child 2. Verbally she would chatter non-stop. An early talker, very capable. As a result, the autism label will not be applied to them.

    But here is where it gets complicated - surely Asperger's is a form of high-functioning autism? Yes, it is, but it is perhaps better to look at the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and say, "Asperger's is a form of high-functioning Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)" otherwise we find ourselves inside a metaphorical hall of mirrors. That is the direction I've taken in trying to wrap my head around my kids.

    In terms of eventual capability, you would expect that difficult child 1 with Asperger's would have a better prognosis than his autistic baby brother. But in fact it seems to be going the other way. difficult child 1 has a brain but only wants to work with his hands. At the moment he has no job although he's been doing some labouring work for a man from his church. difficult child 1 is married, but the relationship is very much parent-child at times. difficult child 3, on the other hand, is gifted with computers and one way or another will find an easy career path in technology. He's a better problem-solver than difficult child 1 and also better within his field, than difficult child 1 is within his field. difficult child 1 is better socially than his little brother, but that is all. difficult child 1 is quite badly impaired when it comes to personal organisation, while GF3 is really quite organised.

    Back to lying - it helps if you analyse the lie, and analyse what makes a successful difficult child lie and what makes an unsuccessful lie. What is his pay-off for lying? What is his punishment? How do you handle it?

    We did go through a stage where difficult child 1 was stealing form me and lying about where the money (or toys) had come from. This went on for over a year before he got badly sprung. The consequences were too much for him to continue. He finally realised how much he had hurt me (and thereby, himself) and never stole again.

    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids are generally very law-abiding. Bt the laws they follow are the law as they understand them to be. This includes the 11th commandment - "Thou shalt not get caught".

    I hope this helps explain thins a bit more.

    We are dealing with complex organisms and the answer is not always so simple. But they are logical, and tat logic can be a tool you can use, to stay one step ahead.

  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have NOT found that autistic people cannot lie. I know quite a few of different ages who lie very very well, including Wiz. There were quite a few threads when he was at his difficult child most about his lying to us, to his teachers, to my mother (who bought every single one, esp about husband and I, regardless of the level of ridiculousness, all the while being proud ofher "ability" to "know" when anyone is lying, lol) to anyone else. He had to get tired of not being believed and of getting into trouble for it to stop being worthwhile to lie. He got really sick of it when my father insisted on independent verification of every single word that came out of his mouth - from Good Morning to I did my homework to good night. My dad finally got through when he stopped taking MY MOTHER"s work automatically that Wiz did what he should/said he did/was expected. My dad got tired of Wiz "making" my mother a liar by getting her to believe sometihng that wasn't true. I have NO idea what/how he did it, except through his own Aspie bull-headedness.

    My father is an Aspie. Very high functioning, has gained an excellent understanding of people by teaching jr high for over 3 decades, but is still an Aspie. He chooses not to lie almost always, but is a VERY convincing liar/practical joker when he wants to be.

    I know that it is popular to think that autistics "can't" lie, but they learn very very well when they want to. And it often gets to the point where in social situations they get more out of lying that being truthful - so they go with what works. in my opinion it starts with peers and spreads as they become believable.

    bust him and demand proof of every single thing that comes out of his mouth if your actions/behavior depend on what he does/says. It is the ONLY way to get through this, IF you can.
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Kiddo and I both have Aspie traits, but language delay is not something we've had an issue with. She takes things very literal, and even I have a hard time understanding hints, but I don't know if that qualifies as a language delay. Subtlety is not really on our radar, we tend to either withdraw, change topic, or boldly say what is on ours minds (often leading to trouble).

    As to lying, neither of us is good at it (there are reasons I don't play poker for money). Even for something like a surprise party, we hoover at it. We omit, we redirect attention, we look for loopholes or generalities.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Language delay is quite specific. it is not necessarily speech delay. Language is communication and the ability to recognise abstract elements as symbols for communication. For example, recognising the sounds of the word "apple" (or even the written word) as meaning the fruit. Language is important, because it helps us form connections in our own brains about various topics. These interconnections are less complex where language delay has been an issue, so despite vocabulary eventually catching up in many cases, they will continue to have some frustrating issues lifelong, with things like word retrieval.

    Interesting, while easy child 2/difficult child 2 had no language issues that we diagnosed, she does now have serious word retrieval problems.

  7. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    My child on the spectrum is starting to tell lies. He actually started about a year ago and he's 13 now. I think it's developmental and considered it a 'milestone', if you will. Now, I can almost always tell when he is lying because he gets a goofy smile on his face or a certain sing-song way to voice.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    As I said - a kid who can lie successfully is a kid who is actually quite sophisticated socially. These kids will try to lie. But they are not usually good at it. However, practice makes perfect, and if they have sufficient need, they will lie.

  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you all!

    SusieStar, your dad sounds like a character!

    Hmm, Whatamess, hadn't thought of it as developmental. Not a bad idea. I certainly like it better than the sociopath ideas I'd come up with. Gulp. It's just so disheartening to live with-someone who doesn't give a d*mn about anyone except himself.

    HaoZi, if someone asked you a point blank question, and you knew that the answer would make them mad, would you automatically redirect them, or could you lie if you had to? How hard would it be? Just wondering. (And thank you for being so open about this; it really helps me.)

    One of the problems is that easy child is home from college. She leaves her door unlocked, she brings food into the house that is not allowed, the dynamics change. I love, love, love having her here, but frankly, in some ways, it's easier with-just difficult child, because we know where everything stands.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I know my older kids could, and would, try to duck out of answering. They also could lie if they felt they needed to. Even difficult child 3 is able to lie these days if there is sufficient reason. For example, hiding a Christmas present from his dad - difficult child 3 could lie about what it was and hope he could slide past being found out. He was very nervous about getting found out, but the consequences would not have been so bad, than if he had been lying about something more serious.

    It's all a matter of weighing up the pressures for and against, as well as the risk of discovery and consequences of THAT.

  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Marg, that's the part I don't get. My son only lives for the moment. I don't think he's weighing anything except that he wants something and then later, has to lie about it.

    Now, about lying - ALL KIDS LIE. At some stage. Or they try to. But kids whose social skills are not so automatic, get caught out in a lie far more easily. Over time, getting caught in a lie, especially if it happens almost every time, builds in a conditioned response to not lie. Similarly if lying makes a child feel "icky" because they either fear getting caught, or the internal conflict of truth/non-truth upsets their thinking, they will learn to not lie. To avoid lies. A Pavlovian response at its best.

    Good points. Maybe we aren't making it uncomfortable enough for him.
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    If he's only thinking in the moment, then you need to get into his head and anticipate what his answers will be if he is a) innocent or b) guilty. Then re-phrase your question, and watch his body language.

    A lie is generally more complex than the truth, and harder to sustain. It also needs to be internally consistent, and here is where an Aspie can fall down. They DON'T plan ahead, and so get caught out more easily. We found we had to punish lying far more, than punishing what they were lying about.

  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you.
    Now I have to figure out that punishment ...
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Your displeasure? Your lack of trust? Making him write a letter of apology for lying?

  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    He couldn't care less what I think or feel. He thinks I am the scum of the earth. I have to make it concrete, like writing a letter, and using his own money to purchase what he stole and give it back.
  16. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    Terry, interesting thread (sorry you have to live it -- you're not alone though). Lots of information here for me to ponder.

    Our gfg13 is a master liar. He's been lying for about a year now. It got so exhausting because I couldn't tell if he was lying or not, and I'm a pretty good detective. He would lie to his teachers and to us. Things got extremely confusing and stressful. It was, and still is sometimes, like living in bizarro-world where reality is never reliable. It's completely demoralizing and mind-boggling.

    Why was he doing this? I think when he started to lie, he was completely overwhelmed. He was just starting middle school where both the social and academic issues were completely beyond him, he had the encopresis problem, gfg17 was really sick -- I think he started to lie (mostly about homework and school issues) to protect himself. Soon the lying infiltrated every aspect of his life. Then I think he just got in the habit. What we did -- we just stopped believing everything he said. When the lie was blatant, we pointed it out to him. Otherwise we just said, "We don't believe you and have no way of knowing if you are being truthful." He was a master talker -- we call him Slick Willie -- he would talk and talk (weaseling) until we were unsure if he was lying or not. So we simply quit listening. He got tired of that -- took a while though. But it was easier than fighting our way through bizarro-world.

    His social skills aren't the greatest and he has some delays. I was just paging through Ross Greene's book "Lost at School" and his theory is that "unsolved problems and lagging skills" underlie challenging behavior. He mentioned lying only once. Like, how does lying serve our kids? That's what our home-based therapist always asks -- how does it serve him, what is he looking for.

    I'll probably get around to figuring that out someday with 13 -- I have a few ideas -- but mostly we ignore everything he says and he is getting tired of it. Also he sometimes responds well to my asking him in a matter-of-fact tone, "Just tell me the truth. I'm not angry. I would just like to know the truth so that I can make sense of it."

    Good luck.


    Regarding the Aspie part, your difficult child may get in a pattern of lying, a routine, and that will be hard for him to break. Also, he may not understand the impact that lying has upon others.
  17. ML

    ML Guest

    Manster lies but usually fesses up later due to guilt -- usually within a few days.
  18. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    Terry, there is also literature about adopted kids and lying, the reason being that unresolved trauma keeps them in an aroused, fear- based state, so they lie to protect themselves, especially because in a fear-based state, the cognitive brain doesn't have time to process the "truthful" answer to even simple questions, like "did you fill the dog's dish with food."


    P.S This same rationale could probably work for any anxious kid who lives in fear because his or her processing time can't handle the demands of the day.
  19. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    There would be this long pause while I tried to find a way to phrase it using some degree of tact. This is where the gifted part kicks in, though - it depends. Not every situation is the same. My friends have learned that you do not ask me a question if you're afraid of the answer. I've gotten better at saying "Maybe that pair of jeans would be better" instead of saying "Yes, those make your butt look fat." Generally if I say something like "How do I put this nicely..." chances are you won't like the answer. And with me, you pretty much have to ask point blank, because if you don't specify EXACTLY what info you're looking for, I'm going to be answering you with questions until I figure it out, you ask outright, or you give up and ask someone else. I can really come across as dense sometimes because of this. There's so many variables to things that I consider when I make a decision or answer an open-ended question.
  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cory was a non-liar for his first several years then he started lying about 4th grade. I am not sure why the sudden change but it happened. He would do something bad and fess right up. Then he started lying about it but we knew it anyways. We had a legion of spies in the neighborhood that told on him before we ever got home so we always knew what he had done before we ever got there. He seldom got one over on us. That really ticked him

    As Star has always pointed out, with a liar, you have to treat them as if every word they utter is a lie. Your sleepy...ok bedtime and I am following you to bed, watching you brush your teeth, wash your face, put on pj's, get into bed, shut off the light...etc. You stand outside the door while he goes potty. Not too long in there. Showers last just long enough or water gets turned off. He is followed everywhere. You check every word he utters. Teacher says something, you call and verify. It will get old quick. But make it get very old. Dont give up too fast. Idea is to make him miserable.