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On pretense August 13, 2008

Posted by speakingaut in interaction, social.
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“Everybody lies.”
— Gregory House

I don’t do pretense, and while I acknowledge that not all autistic people are the same, I’ve never met anyone on the neurodiverse end of the spectrum who does.

If somebody acts angry at me, I’m going to believe they’re angry at me, regardless of what they say. Apparently it’s a bad habit to do that.

I don’t do that “Oh, and call your aunt Mimi to ask about that cake pan she left, but while you’re on the phone, make sure to find out if she’s still dating that guy” stuff, and wouldn’t even if I liked talking on the phone. Apparently this makes me antisocial.

If your new dress looks really awful on you, I’ll tell you so. I’ll do it politely, of course — less “that dress makes you look like a diseased cow” and more “black and white really aren’t your colors” — but I’m not going to say you look great if you don’t, either. Apparently this makes me even more antisocial.

I rarely played dress-up or “Let’s Pretend” with the other children. Apparently this means that I have no imagination. Never mind that I spend that entire time imagining all sorts of stories and using the imagination I evidently don’t have to figure out all sorts of things about the world.

I understand seeing lying as a cognitive milestone, for both NT and ND children. Lying requires knowledge of the truth (Oh crap, I broke Mom’s favorite vase), the ability to construct a story to cover the current state of things (but what if I say my sister did it instead?), and the cognitive ability to weigh the risks of telling the lie with the risks of telling the truth (if she finds out it was me, I’ll be in trouble, but if she believes me I’ll be home free). It takes some pretty big stuff.

But that doesn’t mean we should encourage it when we see it.

And you know what?

It’s the very fact that we do encourage it that I don’t believe you when you shout at me and then tell me you’re not angry.