Autism and Honesty….The Bitter Truth

There is a known link between Autism and honesty. The reasons why people who have Autism are so honest is unclear. I often wonder if it is just the fact that they haven’t learned to lie. Is it a learned behavior that we have all learned by watching television, reading stories, etc.? Who hasn’t read a children’s book that hasn’t had a life lesson about a child telling a lie or a fib? If we just didn’t talk about telling lies and fibs and start trying to teach them NOT to lie at such a young age would they grow up just not understanding why people lie and not lie themselves? Would that create a whole other set of problems? Not understanding people that DO lie and causing them pain because of being so naive? Thinking that they don’t lie so why would anyone else lie? Something to ponder for sure. In children with Autism who are already struggling with some types of developmental delays…Maybe it is just that simple….They have not learned to lie.

It has always been a moral that we have tried to teach our children. Tell us the truth. If you did commit to an act that is against the rules…Admit it! If you lie and I find out later that you did commit the act, and you lied. The punishment will be more severe. It seems by watching about court and trials on TV that rule carries on into adulthood. Tell the truth and the prison sentence will be less.

I agree that honesty is best. Most of the time. I have often said to myself or others how much I appreciate the honesty of my little girl (who soon turns 8 years old). Then there have been those times that I have tried to teach her to use a “filter”. I have even explained to her that using a “filter” does not mean that you are lying. It simply means that you may be having many thoughts. Good or bad. That doesn’t mean you have to verbally express all of the thoughts you have.

I used to be mortified by the things that she would say to people. I have learned to just laugh it off. I am not sure it is something that she can help. I have also learned that as rude as some “typical” people can be…Why should I feel embarrassed about my 7 year old daughter who has Autism? Why should I feel embarrassed about her honesty?

Some examples of her honesty are as follows… Our daughter likes to tell our life story. “This is my little brother. He is mean. He likes to hit, bite, kick, etc. We are going to Wal-Mart. We are going to Mc Donalds after. We live in Princeton. We have two dogs.” She could go on and on. One moment that really sticks in my head was a recent trip to our local hospital. The Dr was seeing her. The Dr stated that she was doing very well and being very good. She replied “I am being so good because you aren’t doing anything that I don’t like. I will keep being good as long as you don’t do anything that I don’t like!” Times that certain family members come to visit. “Did you bring me anything? Did you? Did you?” When upset with someone. “I don’t love you anymore. I am never coming here again. You are not my auntie, cousin, mom, friend anymore.” Another example would be when people have asked her “How are you?” She replies…”I am mad at my Mom today! She is mean!” After one of these statements are made and you ask her to apologize. She can’t. She has stated in certain circumstances before. “I can’t say I am sorry, because I am not sorry!”

Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if we were all a little more honest. More honest with ourselves and with others. Would it make the world a better place if we just put it all on the table and didn’t ever use a filter? Never was dishonest? Was truthful at all times no matter what? Or would we be living in a world of negativity? I keep thinking of myself. If I was always honest. The simple question of how are you today? In my mind… “Oh my! Do you really want to know? I just spent two hours cleaning crap off the walls, carpets, and bed. I have been filling out and trying to sort out mounds of paperwork that never seems to end. I have been trying to keep my Son from beating the dogs, my daughter, and me.  I really just want to crawl into bed and sleep the day away.” What I say…”I am good. How are you?” (With a smile.) Then there are the days that I honestly can say “I am good. How are you? (With a smile.)

It is a catch 22. How can I be upset with our beautiful Daughter for speaking the truth and wishing our Son could tell us more? I can’t… not really. For now…I will just continue to laugh and admire her ability to be brutally honest. I will be glad that I have learned to laugh it off and not let it embarrass me. I will continue to hope for more and more words from our Son.(Even if the truth hurts.) I will continue to learn from BOTH of my children each day. It is amazing how much having two special needs children with Autism have changed my ways of thinking. It is amazing how much they have taught me. I am a better person…because of them.

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