Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Dishonesty and Asperger's

The latest issue that we have ...

You all have heard that kids on the spectrum can't lie, right?

Well, today's post wants to kick that concept's butt.

Our son has been lying for YEARS.  He doesn't do it to get stuff, or bug us, or much of the typical reasons teenagers lie.  But, in one of the typical teenager ways, he lies to get out of doing homework.  He says he has done it when he hasn't.  He says he doesn't have tests at school that week when he actually does.  Last night, he wrote down the answers from the back of the math book, but DIDN'T show his work -- an obvious ploy to get out of doing the work.

Thing is, he's really good at lying.  He's such a good kid in every other way, that when he does lie, it's like a smack to the face.  A punch in the gut.  A real downer.

This boy is a people-pleaser.  He really wants to make his parents, teachers, and other authority figures happy.  When he lies, he sees it as a means to an end -- make everybody happy.

Trouble is, it never, NEVER works out that way.  Parents now have access to online gradebooks, and if you have to be as fanatical as I do to try and catch the huge variety of ways that my son can slip up, you know when your son is lying.

Last year, when the meds were working phenomenally well, there was a lot less lying.  The meds were working, and the school load was good.  Nothing seemed insurmountable.  THIS YEAR, however, there has been a trial of a new honors class, and that is proving to be difficult... thus, the lying.  Trouble is, he's also lying about the other classes that are NOT difficult.

I am mystified that, when my dear son is caught in a lie, he is so surprised.  He gets very emotional, and I of course get very angry... but no matter how many times we have a big drawn out fight over lying, he continues to do it.  I have tried yelling, I have tried being very controlled and philosophical.  I've tried every different approach there is.  I've especially tried to explain to him that lying isn't even effective -- it doesn't give him the peace he is hoping for.  Thing is, if my son lies, I CAN'T HELP HIM.  You kind of need a baseline of honesty to be able to deal with problems, and if that baseline isn't there, you really can't do anything to improve the situation until the lack of honesty is dealt with.  I try to explain to my son that we can deal with problems he has in math, as long as he tells us WHAT IS GOING ON.  When he hides stuff, we are basically hand-cuffed.

Currently, I have no recommendations or positive experience about how we managed to get our son to stop lying.  It's unfortunate that he is lying AND his meds currently aren't working -- a perfect storm situation that leads to a bad beginning to the semester.  I will, however, talk with his therapist about the situation and see what HER take is on the subject, and write about it in my next post.

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At 5:25 PM, Blogger Amber said...

AGH! I am having this EXACT SAME PROBLEM! I homeschool my 13-year old son (who has Asperger's) and I can't trust him to do any work on his own. For his daily 10 pages of reading, we're to the point that he has to read it out loud to me so that I know he's actually doing the reading. I am SO frustrated right now. If you find any magical solution, or even just a workable one, PLEASE post it.

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Miguel Leon said...

Instead of a fight or confrontation about lying, you have to focus on teaching him to tell the truth, incorporating rewards for doing it
Miguel Leon

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Kris said...

Miguel, thank you for your advice -- unfortunately, we have spent all of his growing up years teaching him to tell the truth and incorporating rewards for doing it. We had the impression that he was doing fine in that way -- he feels no need to lie about anything other than school work.

He only lies under pressure or stress about schoolwork. Rewards have not worked. Patience has not worked. Teaching has not worked. He KNOWS that the end result of lying is not good, he even knows that telling the truth will be rewarded -- he just continues to lie. This is a particularly confusing aspect of having a teenager on the spectrum. We've already raised two other teenagers (not on the spectrum) where teaching to tell the truth and incorporating rewards worked. With a child on the spectrum, or at least THIS child, the same teachings DO NOT work.

At 8:41 AM, Blogger Kris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Real Mom said...

I am loving your blog!! I have 3 children with ASD. Lying is a huge problem, as much as my NT child. My oldest even set off the fire alarm at school, got caught, and then lied about it. That child is an adult now. But my 13 yr old, oh my gosh!!! He hides the iPad and any other electronics he can get his hands on and says he did not. He will hit his little brother and say he didn't. He will claim he did his homework and did not. I do not think ASD has an effect on honesty.


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