The Positive Traits of Autism – Part 5 – Honesty

Unfortunately very few people in the world are truly honest.  This is not meant to sound cynical, but the majority of people will lie or deceive at some point in their life.  Even though a lot of people claim to value honesty as a character trait, most people would add that it is not always the best policy, meaning that nearly everybody thinks it is OK to lie at some point.  But when several autistic people were asked what they thought the most positive trait of autism was, some of them claimed that it was honesty.  So why is this?  And why is this such a positive trait of autism?

A lot of the time it is nothing as complex as somebody deliberately trying to be honest their entire life.  There are several reasons why autistic people can be more honest than others.  The first, and most obvious is that lying, and cheating simply do not fit in with the pattern of an autistic person`s mind.

Most autistic people when describing an incident will say what happened, happened – and there is no point making something up.  Because they know something to be true they don’t see any point pretending to believe a fake version of events.  This is not to say that lies are an automatic part of neruo-typical people`s thought processes.  But for a lot of autistic people the concept of lying, or deceiving is just not something that is feasible because of the way their minds work.

There is often not a lot of forethought when autistic people speak; when most autistic people are in a situation they will have to put their energy in to being able to cope with the social aspects of that situation, and won’t have the energy to think up ways to manipulate others, or the conversation.  Therefore most things they say are not planned out, they simply go from the persons brain straight out in to the conversation.

Added to this is the fact that autistic people may not try to fit in to any particular set of social rules.  This means that they will simply tell the truth if they are asked something, or a topic comes up in conversation.  It is hard to categorise this as a hundred percent positive as it can lead to awkward situations. For example, in a hypothetical situation, if an autistic person and a neuro-typical person went round to another person’s house for a meal, and the meal tasted disgusting, when asked afterwards how it was the neuro-typical person would probably lie out of politeness so as not to hurt their friends feelings.  This would most likely lead to them being served the disgusting meal several more times, and having to smile and eat it.  The autistic person when asked would probably say they did not like the meal.  This may lead to some tension, but at least they won`t be served the same meal again!

In conclusion, the majority of autistic people do not lie because they value the truth, and also perhaps because the concept of lying is difficult for them.  Sometimes autistic people may be too honest for their own good, and this can be the problem. Autistic people unfortunately live in a predominantly neuro-typical world where the truth is valued and respected above all else – unless it happens to offend somebody, or contradict another rule or value.

When to tell the truth and when to lie are often not things autistic people know, but this shouldn’t take away from the fact that being honest is a very positive thing.  Just because others sometimes place value on lies and deception doesn’t mean that autistic people should be disheartened by their desire to be honest.


  • Mary L says:

    Hi Paddy-Joe,
    I have a 19yo son on the spectrum (Aspie) who fits many of the qualities you are discussing.
    I just saw your article here on adn (I am new to this site) and am wondering where to find the other (previous) 4 parts in this series of yours.
    I found a few, but maybe not all…..
    Also, is there a way I can follow your blog here or elsewhere?

    Just popping in to do a little online b4 work today, so apologies if this is a very basic/dumb question.
    Thanks for putting this pout there.

    Mary L

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