When we are growing up, we’re told not to lie. We’re encouraged to tell the truth. Stories and fables generally seem to reward those who tell the truth no matter what.
And then we go to a gathering and Aunt Becky has gained thirty pounds. So we happily go up to her and say, “You look really fat, Aunt Becky! How did you get so fat?”
We promptly learn that everything we’ve been taught was lies.
Children and adults on the autism spectrum generally come from a framework of rules. We understand that life is governed by rules and we have to learn to follow them. We hold a hand when crossing the street. We don’t wake up our parents until after 7am. Those rules matter.
So it can be incredibly confusing when we’re told to tell the truth – and we’re also told to lie. We’re told that we should lie if it makes someone happy. Including our parents. But when we shouldn’t lie to our parents other times, even if it would make them happy. The rules only apply in really confusing situations.
This gets even worse at Christmas when stress levels are already high. When countless eyes are on us, judging our every move.
LIES ARE IMPORTANT
Let me say that I acknowledge that our society requires lies to function. We don’t want our children to go around insulting people left and right. It could cause them to get fired from jobs or punched in the face. For their own safety, they need to learn how to navigate this swamp.
We have to start it at a young age.
Children on the autism spectrum have special trouble with this, but that’s why it’s important to start early. To give them a lot of practice time.
It’s worth it to note that children learn what they’re taught. If kids learn that lying is often the right thing to do, it shouldn’t be a surprise if they start lying. You need to make clear rules about when lies are OK and when they are not OK. It’s a new set of rules. It’s like the rule that two cookies after dinner are OK but twenty cookies before lunch is not OK.
The more you talk openly about it, and role play, and give examples, the better your child (or adult!) can understand the complicated rules that come from living in our society.
The child image is sourced from Pixabay / user Tumisu