• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”

Liar Liar Pants on Fire! Why do we believe them?

Lies: Do girl’s with Asperger’s Syndrome believe lies too easily?

I had been reading 2012 Top Autism Blog picks today when I came across Amy Grovino’s blog: Amy’s Tiny Corner of Existence. I found it to be a fantastic blog written by a talented writer with Asperger’s Syndrome.

After reading Amy’s blog post, That Could’ve Been Your Face, which she discusses “the story of an 18-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome who had run away from her home in Iowa after befriending a young man on a social network. Once in Minnesota, this young man raped the girl in a hotel room, and then, under the threat of death, he and his girlfriend forced her to have sex with thirty other men who’d been sought via an online advertisement asking them to come there to pay to have sex with her.” (Grovino)

“[…]During a police interrogation, [the girlfriend] admitted to investigators that she knew the girl could be “easily taken advantage of,” but she said the girl “was not supposed to actually have sex with anyone, just con them out of their money.” [The girlfriend] told police the teen just “never caught on” to the scheme and actually had sex with the men.” (Grovino)

Could this have been me?

I read her blog post with intense interest. Fortunately, when I was this young there was no internet social networking sites to meet people. There were enough real people around to take advantage of us, thank you. I worry for the young people, and not so young people out there who are unknowningly putting themselves in harms way. Then I wondered if I myself, was indeed that naive when I was young. I most certainly was…and sometimes I think in some ways still am.

What about now? Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome can believe lies just as easily as teenagers.

Being an adult woman I know the many dangers that lurk in the world of strangers. I know not to believe what strangers tell me over the internet, and would not go off to meet an unknown person putting myself in danger. I know to question their lies.

But I am still often “blind-sided” by people I know. My first inclination is to believe a lie that someone tells me, later finding out I “should have known” better–and indeed I should have.

For example, a few years ago I had a friend who consistently told me lies that I believed. We were friends so if someone challenged her “lies” I would come to her defense. After all, she was my friend, she said it was true; therefore, It must be true! Why would she lie? I wouldn’t have…

Many of her outrageous stories were proved time and again to be lies, but still she told me the next one, or gave me some crazy excuse for something she had done. I, of course, believed her again without question. Why do I do that? I hadn’t even realized that I’ve been doing that my entire life!

My mother is a pathological liar, she must be. She must believe her own lies, it is the only thing that I can think of that would make someone tell lies over and over again–even when the listeners knows it cannot be true. She will tell stories and lies to me about things that I was present for, like I don’t know she is lying or I wasn’t there. It drives me insane! But the fact that I know she does this, does not stop me from just blindly accepting things she tells me on an everyday basis, that if I really took the time to think about them I would find they were not true.

For the past few months she’s been telling me about needing more money to pay the plumber. One thing after another happens to her pipes, and he doesn’t fix them correctly making her need to call him again (and pay again) for it to be repaired. A couple of weeks ago, after a phone call from my mom. I said to my husband, “I don’t understand her, why does she keep paying this guy? Why doesn’t she just call someone else?” I was angrily thinking this guy is just taking advantage of her.

My husband sighed a bit and looked at me a bit crooked, and said, “Because she is not calling a plumber! She is just trying to make you believe she spent all her money on the plumber so you will feel bad for her!”

When will I learn?

It was like being hit in the head with a brick! What the hell is wrong with me? I know her, and when I thought about it, it only took me a few seconds to realize that he was right. But instead of questioning what she was saying to me, I was questioning the fictional plumber’s actions. Again, it would never cross my mind to make up stories about needing a plumber when I didn’t; therefore, it wouldn’t cross anyone else’s mind to do it either. Because it wasn’t something I witnessed like her other outragous stories, I never even questioned the words. After the first couple of times, I should have caught on!

It actually scares me sometimes to think about how easily I believe someone I know, and how easily I have been blindsided by lies in the past. I have trouble trusting myself to know someone when someone I trust is trying to decieve me. This makes me not want to trust anyone, which is not good. I don’t want people to change who I am. I want to see and believe the good in people, it is one of those things that I truly like about myself.

How many of us still “do not catch on” right away, when we feel like we should have?

aspies believing lies

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert , contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, three of which are on the autism spectrum.
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