Autistic Truth-Telling

If you’re on the autism spectrum, the only thing that matters to you is the truth. Now, you may be wrong about the truth, you may be misinformed or partially informed, but in the end all you care about is the truth.

And that can get you in trouble. Because, let’s face it, nobody actually cares to hear the truth. This is something I know at an intellectual level, but which I keep forgetting when engaged in any sort of practical interaction with people.

Do you have a problem, I want to solve it. Is there a social problem? I want to solve it. And that means facing the truth of the situation. And that can include uncomfortable truths. But most people prefer their comfortable lies, the comfortable lies they tell themselves or at least tell to each other (while secretly telling the truth to a small number of trusted others). And it’s this that autistics have difficulty with. We tell the truth to everyone equally all the time.

This of course results in socially awkward situations. It may even get us fired. It causes social strain among friends and family. And yet, we tell the truth anyway. Not because we don’t care about people’s feelings–we’ll try to fix things if we find out we caused harm–but because we think the truth is what matters. And we often make the mistake of thinking people who say they want to let people know about this or that truth are sincere. And then we make the mistake of spreading the word–words which we are then told should have been kept quiet and private.

There is an old story titled “Rhyming Thomas.” In this story, he is given the “gift” of always telling the truth.  But Thomas argues that he’s actually been given a great curse, since now he’ll have to tell kings and princes and powerful people the truth, and the truth told to them will get him killed. He is thus granted the additional gift of always speaking in rhyme–that is, he’s made a poet–and thus nobody will take him quite so seriously when he speaks the truth.

In other words, maybe I just need to stick to poetry.

8 thoughts on “Autistic Truth-Telling

  1. I understand your struggle, it’s indeed a fine line to walk on… Some might say that universal truths hardly ever even exist. It’s all relative, and depends highly on one’s own perspective. Even hard scientific facts are often proven wrong after a while (nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know of it at this point in time). That’s why I think we should stay humble with what we consider as a fact (especially when it comes to human behaviour, human thought process, human societies). That’s also why I think many people get upset when hearing it, especially when the so called fact concerns them. I actually love your ending (even if it seemed to have been said sarcastically 🙂 ), art allows us to creatively address our perceptions of the truth and get people thinking in a way that’s a lot less confronting for them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We are actually in complete agreement. Which is why I started my piece of with the observation that it’s what true as we understand it now.

      The comment about art is only half sarcastic. I am in fact actually a poet.


  2. I’m a little torn here. I usually don’t sugar coat things. I’m not into flattery or pointless lies (like “I’m fine.”) I did learn as a teenager how to lie when it was to my advantage and how to do it well. (The trick is to get yourself to believe the lie first so it becomes your “truth”.) But I can’t really bring myself to do it these days unless I feel really pressured to (like if I feel the truth could cause me or a loved one serious harm).

    Liked by 1 person

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