Why do PDAers lie?
There are many reasons why a person lies. Society as a whole relies on lying, it’s accepted to say “you look nice” to someone who has just had a haircut, even if it looks terrible, and who hasn’t said their partner doesn’t look fat when they ask, even if they do. Most people lie, we even have names for the type of lie such as white lie or a lie of omission. Society has even deemed some lies as good or necessary.
It’s a common myth that autistics don’t lie. While many of them struggle to come up with convincing lies or don’t like how lying makes them feel, they can and do lie. PDAers, on the other hand, tend to lie so much more, some can be prolific liars. Some are so convincing that they believe their own lies and most tend to deny that they’ve lied when questioned, especially at first, with some later admitting they lied while others continue to deny even when evidence is placed in front of them. Since admitting to having lied can be a demand, some may deny lying simply because it is a demand to tell the truth. Some may not know why they did something so lie to avoid having to admit this, or to avoid getting into trouble for pretending to not know because the other person is adamant they do know.
So why do PDAers in particular lie? There are all the usual reasons any human will lie – to make others feel better, to get out of having to do something they don’t want to do, to make themselves look better, to prevent themselves from looking worse, to try to rectify a mistake or prevent something bad happening, for entertainment etc etc.
The difference between a PDAer’s lies and that of an autistic’s and/or NT’s lies is that PDAers tend to lie more to avoid, to control and/or for survival.
Most lying starts in childhood, especially at the age where reality and fiction blur and when they are testing the boundaries the most. For NT’s people this is between the ages 3 and 5. With autistics it may be later and with PDAers it may be earlier. Autistics tend not to lie for long, unless there are other factors causing a need to lie, such as self-preservation. Masking is a form of lying in that the person isn’t being honest about who they are, in this way, autistics and PDAers lie for longer than NT’s, but masking is seen as a necessary survival tactic. PDAers may lie the most and the longest, this includes masking. For some, lying can become a habit and becomes the first avoidance tactic used.
PDAers will tell some amazing stories to avoid demands. Common known lies include statements such as “I’ve gone blind” “I can’t because my legs don’t work” “my hands are on fire”, that many children will use to avoid demands. Other lies to avoid including saying “I’ll do it tomorrow” when they have no intention of doing so, “I don’t need to” when they actually do, “I’ve already done it” when they haven’t. These lies are more commonly used at older ages and adults.
Some PDAers are so good at using the best lie for a specific person they are seen as being manipulative. Just like the brain can register the best route to take to avoid a moving predator, the brain can also remember the best technique to use to avoid danger, especially if that brain is good at seeing and remembering patterns in things and has lots of practise at being in danger mode and needing to escape, which the PDA brain often is.
Many PDAers are so used to lying and are so adept at doing so that when they are faced with a demand (danger) they have already lied to avoid it before they have even realised they are doing so.
Some may lie as a self-preservation tactic. PDAers may find it difficult to communicate some things, and so may lie to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. Some may lie about their abilities to avoid being seen as different by judging peers. Some say they can manage when they can’t because they don’t want to look weak, or they don’t know how to ask for help, or the demand to ask for help is too much, or they struggle with delegating work.
There are many reasons why a person lies, and it’s rarely without reason. If someone is lying it’s best to find out why they lied and to find a way to help them with that so they don’t feel the need to lie again. Often challenging lies only makes the situation worse and the person may lie more to avoid admitting they lied. Whether you agree with lying or not, it is a natural human process, albeit maybe not a pleasant one.