What do you do when lying isn’t lying?
Parenting a child with Auditory Processing Disorder can be frustrating at times. It is a complete joy and it really does make you stop and think about how you communicate with others and be more intentional in your relationships. However, one issue is such a struggle for kids and I never realized how big of a struggle it could be for them.
What struggle could I be talking about? Lying.
I get what you’re probably thinking by now. And yes, I get that children, in general, struggle with lying. So what’s the difference? The difference is that lying sometimes isn’t really lying to them. Let me give you a few examples and see if that clarifies anything.
About a year ago, my son would go around telling others that my husband built his house that he grew up in. We tried over and over to get him to stop saying that because “that’s a lie! Daddy did not build that house.” He would adamantly argue with me that Daddy did build that house. One day, probably a month after all of this started, I realized where he began to think that. Keep in mind that kids with APD take things literally. You say what you mean, not joking or giving alliteration to them. I quickly told my husband that he and his parents always say “We built our house.” My son had taken them literally that they had built it with their own two hands. That wasn’t a lie in his eyes because it was the truth he understood. We were then able to engage him in a conversation to explain to him what people mean when they say that.
My son is on a swim team. He’s just beginning so he is in the beginning practice team. However, in the pool, all 4 levels of kids swim at the same time. Several times, he would tell a mom that brought him home that “I swam with the blue team today!” Technically, that’s true. Not knowing how the teams are divided and seeing that the blue team was swimming right next to us, he understood that he was swimming with the blue team. He adamantly argued with us that he was swimming with the blue team. We had to clear up that misunderstanding, too.
There was a couple of months when my son would go around telling his friends that he went to a pro football game, caught the football and kicked a field goal. Only one of those was completely true in our eyes. Yes….he went to a pro football game. He did not do the other two things. But for weeks he would say with great conviction that he did. In one of our homeschool classes, he had to write a report and I had him write about his experience at the game. He wrote the same thing that he had been telling everyone. Knowing that my husband and my dad had taken him to the game, I knew the rest didn’t happen. Since it was English class, I took the time to go over his sentences and figure out why he was writing these two extra events. Finally, he said “Mommy, it’s true! I went to the pro football game. I caught the football when Pop threw it to me at his house and I kicked a field goal at home when we got home!” Aha! That made more sense. That was true. He just happened to leave out a lot of needed details that made his story come out sounding like a lie. We discussed the need for using more adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, nouns, and prepositions when he tells a story!
Don’t get me wrong. My son’s not perfect.
He does lie. He tries to tell the truth most times. However, it’s a struggle to weed out the lies from the examples given above. It takes time. It takes intentionality. Then, it takes laying down my pride of what everyone else probably thinks of me, my son, and my family because of these “lies” that he’s telling. Except they’re not. And those sweet people who take the time to question, re-question, and truly listen to him will be rewarded with what he truly means. They will also be part of the “community” helping us to raise our son and learn to overcome his difficulty of communication that is common to children with APD.