Thursday, 13 March 2014

Aspergers, truth and lying

One of the stereotypes about Aspies is that we don't lie.

Like most of the stereotypes about Aspies, it's not terribly accurate.

There are some people on the spectrum who can't or won't lie.  It might be for any number of reasons: maybe it doesn't occur to them, maybe they literally can't, maybe they don't see the point, maybe they've made a conscious choice to reject that particular social game.

But there are also people on the spectrum who can lie like pigs in shit.*

I should know.  I used to be one of them.

You wouldn't know my girlfriend, she goes to another school
When I was a kid, I told some really tall tales.  They were readily identifiable as bullshit, because I didn't even try to make them believable.  At one stage I may have put it about that I'd got an extra role on Degrassi Junior High, which a) had ceased production three years earlier, and b) was made in Ontario, a place notable for how much it isn't in Australia.

Now, looking back as an adult who knows better, this is absolutely mortifying.  What on earth was I thinking?  What must the people I told have thought?  And why the hell did I do it, since Aspies are supposed to be all truth, all the time?

Turns out, this isn't uncommon.  I've seen various questions asked by the parents of young Aspies with a creative grasp on the truth.  Often, their stories seem to be the the same kind of wildly unrealistic stuff I came out with.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I think I know why I did this.

When I was a kid I had a really powerful imagination, and since most of my obsessions were (and are) related to TV, movies or books it was getting plenty of ammunition.  Then, on top of that it took me longer than most children to learn to clearly differentiate between fantasy and reality.  I also didn't have a lot of social interaction sometimes, for various reasons, so I didn't always have someone to provide a reality check before my mind and my mouth ran away.

This combination of factors means I said a lot of stuff that wasn't true, but that I thought was true or that felt true for me at the time. 

I think there was an element of pretend play it as well.  A toddler wrapped in alfoil running around the lounge room shouting "look at me! I'm an astronaut!" isn't lying, as such, although it's obviously not the truth.  It's a pretend truth, and there's all sorts of developmental stuff going on there.  But by the time you're an older child or a tween, pretend play is obviously, like, so not cool, even if developmentally you're quite a bit behind your peers.  So narrating, rather than acting out, our make believe might be a way to get around that.

I can't remember whether attention seeking came into it.  It probably did.  But I think it was more of the "look at me, I'm an astronaut" type, rather than the "I'm so cool and awesome" variety of lying.  It was, I think, about wanting to share and acknowledge whatever weird and improbable shit was going on in my head at the time.

Look at me, I'm an astronaut!

*This saying annoys me no end, because it's not accurate - a pig would usually rather be clean, if it had a choice.  But it's far more colourful and evocative than my usual "to lie like a rug".  Which I learned from Degrassi, strangely enough.