13yo Aspie and unrepentant lying - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 12-02-2011, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm hoping someone will have some suggestions...


My 13yo son is ADHD and Aspie.  We homeschool so we don't have 'issues' related to stresses at school, etc.  He has lots of useful stuff to do, and lots of freedom too.  He's a highly gifted musician, involved in many local bands, orchestras, lessons on different instruments, etc.  He's also fond of video games... a little TOO fond, if you catch my drift.


We have had FREQUENT problems through the years with him becoming 'addicted' to one game or another.  Portable devices are the worst, so most have not ever been allowed in our house. When he was 8, I think, we let him get an OLD gameboy.  And we'd find him sneaking it all over the place, playing it in the middle of the night, and oh the tantrums if he wasn't allowed to have it... 


Every time we think he's matured enough to try it again, with structures and restrictions and guidelines and limits that he readily agrees to... the same thing happens.


Lately, it's Minecraft, and his new iPod.  He saved up the money for the iPod himself and agreed to limits on its usage (never past 930pm, has to finish schoolwork first, etc).  Similar restrictions on Minecraft, which we happily bought for him since it's got some great creative aspects to it.  We even found a homeschool server for him to play on with other kids we could trust!


Every so often, though, he 'cheats'.  For instance, our computer records clearly showed one night that he went on at 2am and played for about a half hour.  Other times, he's played when I was out running errands, or busy doing housework, and he was supposed to be doing his schoolwork.  This is, of course, to be expected.  Who among us NEVER snuck around at least a little bit to do things we really enjoyed?  I'm not pleased about it, as it shows his ongoing lack of impulse control and addictive tendencies.  But it's within "normal childhood problems" stuff.  


The bigger problem is how he LIES about it.  And once again, you might expect a certain amount of "cover your ass" lying.  "I don't want to get caught" lying.


But he still lies AFTER he's caught.  Red-handed.  I could be standing there looking at minecraft on the computer screen right in front of him and he'll say "no I wasn't..."  "So how do you explain this?" *shrug*


The latest is that he was playing for an hour yesterday while I was out.  This was a bigger problem than usual, because we've been having problems with this computer.  Crashing more and more frequently, more and more unstable.  My IT hubby wanted us to leave it alone until he had a chance to work on it, except that I would try to get on it to make sure our backups were up-to-date.  My son was clear on this -- the next time we got it turned on might be the last time it worked ever, and it was vitally important that I check our backups (which include many of his own files!)  


However, the computer records clearly show he was on the computer, and playing minecraft.  Risking all our files.  (It turned out that our data was mostly backed up but slightly out of date, although we didn't know this at the time.)  Fully knowing what he was doing.


He was on again this morning, when I was sleeping in (fighting a cold).  


He fervently denies either episode.  Even when I showed him the clear computer records.  He specifically says "I did not."  "You know that you were risking the whole computer system."  "Yes I know, that's why I didn't do it!!"  


I've told him frequently that the problem is the lying, and not the actions he's lying about.  That when he admits things, things are easier and better (and on the rare occasions where he HAS admitted things, I've let him get off scott-free!!!  that's how desperate we are to show him that the truth is better!).  We've tried punishments (no minecraft for a week), positive reinforcement/rewards.  We've tried talking about it.  I've cried, I've hugged, I've sympathised, I've yelled.  Nothing makes any difference.


I've read books on defiant kids.  He's read books on being the person you want to be, dealing with things, etc.  None of it makes a difference.  I've tried re-connecting, making sure our attachment is secure, playing with him, understanding.  I've tried supervising his every move -- he whines and cries that I don't trust him (duh, I wonder why) and insists that if I just trusted him everything would be fine.  So I've also tried just trusting him.  And he betrays the trust every. single. time.  Nothing has made any difference.


He has zero impulse control... we can deal with that.  But he lies.  Flagrantly, bold-facedly, unashamedly.  Looks me right in the eyes and tells me things that are clearly and unequivocally and proven untrue.  And he gets mad at ME about it!  


I understand lying to protect yourself, lying because you don't want to admit the truth even to yourself.  But it's disturbing how far he's willing to take it.  Whatever threats or promises are made if he would only just admit it, he still won't admit it.  Surely there is a point where common sense kicks in and says "dude, just admit it, you're only making things worse at this point"???


I am honestly at the point where I'm getting worried about more serious things.  It's "only" video games right now, but what about when he's older and gets tempted by more serious and more dangerous things?  And then lies about them?  If he can never take responsibility for his own actions (which is a whole other thread, everything is always someone else's fault) where is he going to end up?


He's a sweet kid most of the time.  Smart and funny and talented.  But self-centered and non-empathetic too.  And also with great self-esteem issues, I think fundamentally he sees himself as 'unfixable' and broken, which only compounds with these problems.


We have seen a therapist about this and other issues.  She's a sweetheart but almost too sweet... she assures me that just using lots of short-term concrete positive reinforcement will fix everything.  No, it didn't.  


So... any BTDT miracle stories that might help us out? 

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#2 of 15 Old 12-02-2011, 08:50 PM
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absolutely no idea.


My 15 year old has Asperger's. She has waist length naturally curly hair. Yesterday, for no apparent reason, she cut off a chunk of it off, sorta of giving herself bangs (but very, very badly). I don't get it. I'd be happy to take her for a hair cut -- any place in town. I know a stylist who will come to our house. She refuses professional hair stylists. So, she just wacked a chunk off.


IMHO, it looks horrid.


When I first saw it and was surprised, I said "Did you CUT your HAIR?"  (I know it's silly to ask a question that one already knows the answer to, but I was shocked.)


And she said, "no."





I pointed out that lying about things that people can easily check out is a waste of time.


I don't get it. She's allowed to wear her hair any way she wants, and even though I don't like the way it looks right now, I know its not my hair. It will grow. It's her head, her choice, but she still lied.


As I was standing there looking at her recently cut hair, she lied.



but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#3 of 15 Old 12-02-2011, 10:08 PM
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Ouch :( I have a 10 1/2 yr old Aspie and while he does lie, it' s not hard to get him to admit the truth. I generally don't punish if he does aside from natural consequences (you ate all the cookies while I was asleep, no more cookies this week).


I don't know that it helps the behavior but at least he admits it. I would be much more upset if he didn't so I understand your concern. I don't know how to help but I didn't want to not post. It certainly is a concern for the future.

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#4 of 15 Old 12-03-2011, 06:44 AM
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Only going to address use of the problem computer. If you don't want it used, remove any and all cords possible. Render it unusable, instead of making it an attractive nuisance by leaving it functional.

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#5 of 15 Old 12-03-2011, 07:14 AM
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I make unplugging the router at night a normal thing.  It gets plugged back in in the morning and DD1 has to actually ask for it to be plugged in. 

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#6 of 15 Old 12-03-2011, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
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We've got time lockouts set up on the computer now anyway.  The middle of the night thing seems to have been a one-time occurrence.  But as I said, that's not the greater part of the problem... it's the lying about it that I'm most concerned about.  (The middle of the night event was a couple of months ago now and he still insists he didn't do it.)

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#7 of 15 Old 01-07-2012, 02:18 PM
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Lying.. Wow I have a 12 yr old who is a wonderful sweet most of the time mature girl. However that said lying and about worthless things is an issue. She is high functioning autistic and a bunch of other things on paper that we have been able to work our way around with some intense homeschooling and life schooling.  SO most times no one would notice other then her toe walking which we just had surgically corrected ( again) so now even that is not there. But lying about silly things is a constant issue. But like someone mentioned she will confess when asked most often. Ex. Who ate all the donuts? Daughter" the dog"   or " I do not know "  as she still as crumbs or something on her lol.   This really used to get me upset but recently I have spoken to a few friends and have been reminded what they were like as kids or what their own kids are doing. Several of my friends recall making elaborate lies up that were really bad as a tween.  So maybe it is not just an aspie thing but a phase. So we as parents need to just keep them coming clean and use those moments to teach and train. I know loosing things mean nothing to my daughter.  Out of sight out of mind.  I try to use humor and fun to teach and even tease her a little to help teach her how to play and it seems to have helped a bit over the years. I guess I will have to see in a few more how it really worked lol.  I still get annoyed that she feels the need to lie to me. But I have learned not to take it personally.  Now I just try to focus it on her .  I will stay tuned to this thread to see what tips I can get from you all I know I am always looking for ideas.

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#8 of 15 Old 01-07-2012, 07:17 PM
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I understand why you are frustrated. As I read your post I was thinking that talking about lying and expressing repentance involves some pretty complicated social and emotional processing and information. While he's 13, with Asperger's he may really be in a lot of ways younger than that and what you are describing to me sounds more typical of the behavior of a younger kid which can be really frustrating but maybe as an encouraging thought that means that maybe you will see more growth with this as he matures. Your son may not have the flexibility at this point to shift his thinking and conversation so rapidly to talk about emotional issues like this. You've probably already tried this, but does it help him at all to be really clear about your position and tell him that you want to give him a few minutes to think about it before you talk?  As you've tried hard when he's lying to communicate what about it bugs you and that's not working, I wonder if for now it might make sense to put more energy into prevention. Is there anything else that can be done to help get him on board with the limits? Would it maybe lower his stress if there was some kind of lock out feature or something like that? 

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#9 of 15 Old 01-22-2012, 07:01 PM
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This was mentioned above, but I wanted to emphasize it. Autism in all its spectrum, is a developmental disorder. One thing this means to me is that our kids will develop on their own timescales. Especially with Aspbergers, some aspects of life will be lagging behind others. So while it is easy to expect a certain level of functioning, based on chronological age and other lifeskills, we have to adjust our expectations to meet their capacities very individually. For example, my YoungSon, 15, nags about time ("When are we going to leave?", " When will we get there?") just like a whiney 4 year old. In many other ways, he is quite mature, so this fluke really stands out, and drives me nuts.


My suggestion would be to separate the ability to tell the truth under pressure from the moral aspects of lying. I bet your child already has a clear understanding of the difference between fact and fiction, and knows right from wrong. He isn't developmentally ready yet to admit when he has done wrong. Or to self-regulate regarding video games. So I would avoid asking. I would avoid the whole discussion. Just put up the computer cables if you need to, keep the ipod packed up, whatever causes the problems. Revisit the whole issue in 6 months or a year. Telling the truth will come up many times a day in daily life, and he will learn this skill at his own pace. I would even venture to say that no system of rewards or consequences will speed up his development. Don't ask questions when you already know the answer. Don't engage in debates

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#10 of 15 Old 01-23-2012, 05:14 AM
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I don't really think this is a moral issue with your Aspie.  I think it's actually about being a poor liar.  Most kids at age 13 will sometimes lie to save face.  With or without a disability, people don't like being caught in the wrong or at a disadvantage or looking silly.  But lying well requires reading what others might think, and kids with Asperger's don't do this well.  Add that most kids with Asperger's are just plain rigid, and won't let go of a statement that is an obvious lie, and the lying is pretty obvious.  My 11 year old DS (with Asperger's) will continue saying something not allowed (lying or rude statements) even if it means he will miss out on doing his very favourite things because once the idea is in his mind, there's no letting go.  He has no idea when his lie is ridiculous.  Two nights ago, he filled up a water pistol at bedtime and I caught him squirting his little brother with it on his way to bed.  He threw the water gun on the floor and said "I didn't squirt him.  This was just here on the floor."


I agree with some of the other posters who are recommending a practical approach and making sure he can't use the computer beyond limits.  If he's anything like my son, all the consequences in the world won't matter because he doesn't get how annoying his obvious lie is to you.  I'm sure he knows the truth to himself, but just doesn't feel able to switch gears to tell you.  I also think just because hie lies about this one thing doesn't mean he's lying about everything.  If he gets obsessed about the game, the lie is just an extension of the obsession.

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#11 of 15 Old 02-09-2012, 12:11 AM
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Really helpful thread.  My 7.5 yr old (got his dx of Aspy on Tuesday!) has a super-annoying behavior that I understand a bit better after reading this.  He will deliberately do something (rub the cat's fur backwards, push his brother), and then say "I didn't mean to!"  When it's very clear that it WAS a deliberate act.  I just watched him do it.  I have been thinking that it was a communication issue (his old school identification is communication disorder) of him not knowing what those words meant.  I have tried (unsuccessfully) to explain to him the meaning of the words, and how they don't apply.  Now I am seeing it in the context of lying, and of not understanding how ridiculous and obvious this lie is to me.  Hmmm....

Mom to ds1 (ASD) born 2004 and ds2 born 2007
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#12 of 15 Old 03-06-2012, 12:17 PM
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Well this thread is 3 months old but I'm going to share anyway. :-D  I don't know if I'm on the spectrum, but I certainly lied like that a lot.  Yes, it drove my parents crazy, and sometimes even in the moment I knew how absurd I was being. But, yeah, that terrier inability to let go once I take a stance is a big part of it. 


I have a couple of thoughts. You noticed that your son is lying to himself when he lies to you, too.  This might be a big problem for him when he's an adult.  The consequences of his lying to himself might only get worse.  It makes it difficult to deal with uncomfortable truths and to make good decisions, makes it all too easy to ignore and deny, deny, deny reality, makes holes get deeper. 


So I urge you to point out to him that he's hurting himself when he lies like that.  And try to explain how lying to himself causes unforeseen consequences.  I think this is the bigger, worse issue anyway, because he's going to have to live with himself.  This isn't particularly going to make him stop lying.  But it's a seed that needs to be planted in his head.


I agree with the above, don't take it personally, and don't ask 'did you?' when you already know the answer. Try to make it really easy, or comfortable, for him to be truthful. For one thing this might defuse the inability to back down from a lie, and might defuse some stress between you both, and that's important.


Who knows, maybe this is all off, but I hope this perspective helps.


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#13 of 15 Old 03-06-2012, 10:08 PM
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It helps to make it mathematical.  The more mathematical your explanation of the effects of lying the better.  Drawing comics of the effects, showing what goes on in other people's heads when they hear a lie might even help.


Aspis are terrible liars LOL.  They don't know how to choose what to lie about, they don't know how to be convincing, they can't tell if you are convinced, and they don't know when or why to give up on their lie.  As you are saying, common sense doesn't kick in.  And really, it doesn't, think what common sense actually is--it's made up so many of the things Aspis just don't get but the rest of us think it is obvious.  All those nuances of how other people work.  All those expectations of others where you can tell approximately where the boundaries are especially when you've crossed them--we call that common sense.  They can't see why some people lie and it works and they lie and no one believes them.  And they are often stuck in their script of the lie fixing things, still expecting the lie to work long after you've called them on it.  Even when the plan isn't working they do not know how to change their plan.


Most people use lies selectively as tools to manipulate a situation.  But AS kids oversimplify and can't use them that way because they don't know enough to manipulate.  At some point lying must have worked for your ds or someone he knows, and it's just going to take a lot to get past the inflexibility now that this is fixed in his mind. 



We have locked computer accounts.  Our oldest was sneaking all of the time and everyone else was fussing about wanting to use it at all hours.  Our Aspi son can hardly walk past a computer and leave it alone, although he does respect the limits, he pressures pretty hard about it.  The problem is also that he is not self-monitoring.  Most of us watch ourselves all of the time, making sure we are doing the "right" thing.  "Is what I am doing okay?"  "How am I affecting others?"  "What might they think of me?"  "Is this working?"   Ds doesn't do this.  He agrees to follow a rule and cannot keep track of that intent once his mind is on anything else. 


I feel for you.  I don't have answers really.  It's exhausting and the future does seem scary, because we watch our children missing these essential survival skills and not even learning them with lots and lots of help as the years go by.  I know! 

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#14 of 15 Old 03-06-2012, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by fiddlefern View Post

Really helpful thread.  My 7.5 yr old (got his dx of Aspy on Tuesday!) has a super-annoying behavior that I understand a bit better after reading this.  He will deliberately do something (rub the cat's fur backwards, push his brother), and then say "I didn't mean to!"  When it's very clear that it WAS a deliberate act.  I just watched him do it.  I have been thinking that it was a communication issue (his old school identification is communication disorder) of him not knowing what those words meant.  I have tried (unsuccessfully) to explain to him the meaning of the words, and how they don't apply.  Now I am seeing it in the context of lying, and of not understanding how ridiculous and obvious this lie is to me.  Hmmm....

Maybe, but I think it's more that he learned that was the "right" thing to say.  My ds thinks apologies fix everything.  If I simply ask him what happened he'll often say "I'm sorry"  He'll apologize when it's not at all necessary and he's not even being held accountable for something.  For him it's easier than thinking about and answering my question.  He wants to have an answer that requires no thought to come up with.  It's really really hard for him to find words that fit.  So it's good to have easy, all purpose answers that fix certain problems.  Unfortunately they are way too simple and often a poor fit. 


Because of the mind-blindness factor, he does not see when such an answer does and doesn't work for other people or in a certain situation.  He doesn't know what it seems to mean to you.  He just knows that sometimes when he says "I didn't mean to" it helps, and otherwise he is probably extremely confused about how to respond at all.  Being caught hurting someone is a rather complex social situation for an Aspi.  What meaningful thing does he know to say at that point?  You are clearly expecting him to say something, and that's probably just all he can think of. 


Maybe, at the moment you confront him, he notices himself and wishes he hadn't done it.  At that point he doesn't mean to but it's sort of past tense.  When he did it he was probably not thinking about it being right or wrong or whether he "meant" to or not.  It's probably a rather confusing moment, kind of realizing you've been doing something you know is wrong when you weren't previously giving it thought, and wanting to be good at that moment after the action even if you weren't thinking about being good a moment before.


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#15 of 15 Old 03-10-2012, 06:39 PM
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Instead of asking him "Why did you do x-" and accusing him of lying and stuff, address it this way, "I know this is what you did. Why? Can you explain it to me?" And if he said, "No, I didn't blah blah blah" then say, "Then what do you call it?" You need to deconstruct it before you can fix it.


Same goes for the girl who cut her hair but denied it. "Ok, what did you do?" Figure out what they call it, then you can address it more accurately.


When any of my kids lie (and the aspie does try!), I tell them, "I SAW YOU DO IT" and then we deconstruct.


Put limits on time. Don't say one hour. Say, "You have 1 hour. That means at 9:30, you turn it off." Now, with my aspie, if he's watching a show when his time is up, I let him finish the episode, or finish the one thing he's working on in Minecraft, and that's it. It usually extends a few more minutes, but generally not more than 20. So, if you're dead set on no computer past 9:30, you might go in at 9 and warn him. Warn him again at 9:50.


As for mind-blindness - as children, yes, we DO have trouble grasping the fact that other people have ideas and thoughts, but we DO develop it. As adults, we're much more aware of what's going on than you realize. 


I have aspergers and I blog about it. It might help you guys to read it. Parenting with Aspergers


There is hope. They will get through this and turn out to be functioning adults in society, provided you offer the right kind of support. (The fact that you're on mothering and even asking is awesome. I come across a lot of families who don't care to try and get through to their kids. It's sad, but true.)


Oh, one more thought: We are VERY empathetic, but we do need to be shown and taught the right responses in an emotional situation. It helps if you just tell your child, "Your friend is crying. you should ask why and when they tell you, tell them you're sorry. It will help them feel better and it will let them know that you care about them." This will lead to conversation about why and how and such, so just keep talking. If they get overwhelmed with it, just tell them, "Ok, we can talk later." Don't force it. We have to process a lot more than you realize.

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