Ok, title may be a little tongue-in-cheek. As I’m sure many of the autistic people who spread the above myth genuinely believe it and thus are not lying.
Obviously some autistic people really truly cannot lie, even to save their lives, so I’m going to be generalising here. (Though for the purposes of this post I’m going to speak in the first person and use “I” instead of “we”.)
And yes, sometimes the reason for the lie is literally to save our lives. Because, Masking is lying. I lie when I say “I’m fine” and slap a mask on.
But I lie at other times too.
If someone asks me to do the really difficult thing, and I simply cannot do it, I may lie and say I’ve done it just to make it go away. “I definitely brushed my teeth just now”.
If my self-esteem is low, I may exaggerate my accomplishments. “I killed ten giants with one spear”
If I want to say “no” but feel I can’t. “Sure I’ll single-handedly paint your entire house for you tomorrow, no problem”.
Sometimes prosopagnosia (face blindness) means I don’t recognise someone but I’m too embarrassed to tell them. “Of course I remember you! Long time, no see”
If I’m afraid I’ll get into trouble with the law, even if that’s not actually a possibility. “No, doctor, I’ve never taken any illegal drugs in my entire life.”
Sometimes childhood memories can get blurry but instead of admitting I’m not 100% sure about something, I’ll say it definitely happened. “I really did see someone getting stabbed, when I was three. I remember it” Someone told me such an event happened but I don’t know if I remember it or if what I actually remember is the re-telling if it.
Sometimes I lie for the same reason other people do – to get out of trouble. “I did not eat your last Rollo while you were in the toilet”.
And obviously I lie when I sign the “I-have-read-all-46674-pages-of-smallprint-in-this-new-phone-contract-and-agree-to-all-of-it” thing.
I think maybe most autistic people have less of a tendency to lie for personal gain. Especially for personal social gain. And especially what are deemed white lies. But even that, I’m not too sure about.
So “Autistic people cannot lie” is another myth that needs to be put to rest. Because sometimes we can lie very well.