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Aspergers and stealing/lying

(22 Posts)
Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 13:55:24


I am a step-parent and new to all of this. Please come and talk to me about compulsive lying and stealing in a pre-teen with AS (recent diagnosis).

How to handle (other than shouting which is what I have just done - not proud but so very angry this time).

Can it be overcome? If so how? How do I deal with it and not take it personally? What tools can be put in place? Locks? No bags allowed to leave the house?

Please help, crying and upset and confused... and that is just me. sad

I am going out shortly but will be back on line later so please bear with me I value and help and advice that can be given.

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 13:56:27

Sorry, meant to say SDD is very high functioning, mainstream high school, very intelligent and can go under the radar for AS if it was not for certain aspects/symptoms.

WetAugust Mon 05-Apr-10 15:43:21

You'll need to explain more. Does he understand the concept of stealing / lying. Is it deliberate or just inconsiderate / not thought through.

Sometimes the obvious is not always so and there are other explanations which may seem bizarre to you - but that's how the autistic mind works.

Best wishes

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 19:31:41

WetAugust - yes, She sayes she knows it is wrong to steal and that there will be consequences but the 'voice' that wants the item overides the voice that says that this action with cause ructions.

Once 'rumbled' she will continue to lie against all evidence then cry and shout and scream. Very very acomplished at lying, almost had me today until I pushed and threatened to search bags and she gave way to a point. Admitted one item but would not budge on the other 8 I found taken.

Really do not know how to work this one through at all.

imahappycamper Mon 05-Apr-10 20:06:42

My son used to bring things home that were not his, and did not really seem to have a concept of ownership. Mostly it was things like pens and pencils, although once he shoplifted from Tesco. I marched him back and the member of staff was really good, laying it on a mile thick about how serious it was and how lucky he was he was only 9 or she would have had to call the Police. As far as I know that worked. He wouldn't go to Tesco for ages.
He is 15 now and it happens far less often.
Does she steal from members of the family or outsiders?

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 20:21:01

Members of the family as far as we know, we have stopped any unsupervised shop wandering (she is 12 so it would be fine otherwise). At the moment main things are make-up, DVDs, and food although would not stop there, money too is an issue if left lying around. These items seems to have become obsessional, fridge raiding is a real issue as its piling on the weight too.

Not sure what to do. Withdrawal of treats seems to make her more determined to take the 'treats' back. Calm talking may as well be to a wall, serious talking,.. same. Shouting makes her sob understandably. However, she is high functioning, goes to main stream school, holds down the routine required just about, shows pretty good cognitive function in many aspects. Just thinks its OK to take the things that she wants for herself, bugger other people.

imahappycamper Mon 05-Apr-10 20:50:30

Are there any professionals involved with her? It may be that someone outside the family can offer help.

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 21:01:20

We have cahms and sahms (sp?) but nobody seems to give any practical advice on how to deal with these episodes.

WetAugust Mon 05-Apr-10 21:05:47

"These items seems to have become obsessional,..."

I've highlighted the interesting bit of your last post.

Aspergers is a condition whereby obsessions are displayed. Sometimes other conditions also exist with Aspergers such as OCD.

Just because she's high-functionng, etc doesn't mean that she may not have many hidden issues that that are not immediately apparent.

If she's says it's an obsession then you really need to take her to the GP and ask for a referral to CAMHS where she can be helped by behaviourial / clinical pyschologists.

This is the other part of your post that interested me -

"Just thinks its OK to take the things that she wants for herself, bugger other people. "

You have just summed up Aspergers. They are frequently unable to see how what they do affects other opeople. It just doesn't cross their minds. It's not malicious or deliberate it's just the base egotistic behaviour that Aspergers causes.

It must be hell for you but again you gave a clue to why you find her behaviour so difficult to cope with when you said "I'm new to this".

I suggest that in order to improve things you learn more about Aspergers. Learning about the condition will help you understand why she does things and also assist you in developing strategies to deal with them.

Unfortunately 'high-functioning'still carries with it a whole host of unacceptable behaviours.

Best wishes

niminypiminy Mon 05-Apr-10 21:10:43

This sounds so like DS1. He's 6 so would be only beginning to understand the concept of stealing anyway but he has exactly the same inability to over-ride the internal voice saying 'I want'. Poor impulse control, I think psychologists call it. I'm beginning to think it's more of a developmental issue. NT children gradually learn to defer gratification and then to accept not getting the thing they want at all (well, in certain circumstances). They learn to internalise rules such as 'ask before you take' or 'things on mum's chest of drawers belong to mum and are special' and later on can generalise this to 'taking things that aren't yours is stealing'. But it takes a really long time to learn this even for an NT child. Because ASD is a developmental disorder/condition, some aspects of development will go much more slowly, and I think the ability to internalise controls on one's own desires is very commonly one of them. ASD children just need much more explicit explanation of the rules -- and for much, much longer -- than most children. And they need a sort of 'external scaffolding' to help them build up those internal controls. Rewards for asking before opening the fridge, for example, would work. If you can think of it as you are doing something from the outside (giving clear rules, rewarding her when she keeps them, making everything very specific) to help her build up what's inside then that helps to avoid getting into the constant talking to and telling off -- which frustrates everyone. (Mind you, if I could do all this all the time I would be doing a lot better than I am! blush) Anwyay, because she is high functioning (a bit like DS1) it's easy to overlook how far behind she may be in her development of certain things, particularly if they relate to wants and emotions, which are so hard to measure.

Hope that helps

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 21:50:15

Guys thanks. I think today I was reeling from the episode. I am trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can but things seem to be getting worse ans worse since the diagnosis. A year ago there were behavoiral issues but nothing compared to where we are now.

So, is the change of school in September very traumatic as to bring out more extreme behaviour? Is this something we can hope to help her with in time?

WetAugust Mon 05-Apr-10 21:52:20

Agree with you Nimini

Forthelove These are specific issues that you need to raise with CAMHS - forcefully if necessary. This is the sort of behaviour that could land her in real trouble later in life so a CAMHS psychiatrist / psychologist needs to work on this. they are the experts - tell them you want to see a bit of their expertise directed to adressing this problem.

Best wishes

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 22:01:01

That is what I am so worried about, today make up from me then friends and shops and goodness knows what. It's already strayed outside the home to grandparents. Will speak to cahms again. Many thanks for taking the time, much appreciated

WetAugust Mon 05-Apr-10 22:03:05


It seems we were both typing our latest posts at the same time so I've just read your latest.

Yes - transition to secondary could well spell disaster if it's not handled properly.

She'll be going from the relatively sheltered junior school where she is currently taught predominately by one class teacher and surrounded by classmates she's known for years to a great big busy anonymous comprehensive where she'll have to move from room to room and be taught by several different teachers and meet hundreds of people she's never met before.

Scary enough if you don't have problems but overwhelming if you'r an Aspie and bad at organisation etc. That's when difficulties can really explode.

You need to start adjusting her this year. Can you ask for her to visit the new school (several times if necessary) and start talking her thrugh what will happen. Anxiety increases when they are in new situations they don't understand - you need to preempt that by rehearsing with her before she goes there.

Get a few books on teh subject and you'll get a better understanding of the condition.

By the way - here's an example of 'lying'.

My son was asleep in the living room. I came in and asked him why he was sleeping in the living room and not in his bedroom. His response: "I'm not sleeping in the living room."

Obviously a lie as I had caught him fast asleep.

However you have to factor in the Aspie way of thinking. At that particular momment when I was accusing him of sleeping and he was denying it - he wasn't actually asleep - he was awake and talking to me - therefore he was quite correct in stating he was not sleeping in the living room. He had been sleeping but I didn't phrase it that way when I asked the question.

So we were both right.

You need to start thinking or understanding the way that she looks at life which may be ultra logical and can drive you juts at times.

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 22:21:59

Wet - she has been at the secondary school since September. A year ago it was not this bad, the stealing was almost undetectable, the lying childlike not so seemingly slick, she also now has a constant dialogue accompanying conversation, like 'i don't know why I love black things, not sure why, i guess it's strange but hey I like it and other people think I'm odd but I like odd' and so on and so forth. It's like a play with someone reading out the script and all the stage directions too.

It was never this bad, how has it escalated so much so quickly?

WetAugust Mon 05-Apr-10 22:31:13


That's a real crisis time when the condition can just explode. Couple that with a change of schools as I decsribed above and you have the perfect storm for a deterioration in her condition.

Add into that caustic mix the fact that's she newly diagnsoed - so for years she's been struggling with aspergers without support as noone knew she had it. No wonder she's started acting strangely.

She needs to start to understand her own condition - I expect CAMHS are trying to do that with her. She must be puzzled and frightened.

Unfortunately as child who slipped through the diagnostic net she's not had the benefit of support and teaching her about her condition earlier in life - she has a lot of catching up to do.

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 22:48:38

Wet - thanks so much for taking the time to walk me through this. You are right, a lot of things must be colliding right now, puberty being the key suspect I guess.

Cahms have been very slow to react so I really hope they will pick up speed now and help her and us deal with the reality of the situation.

I will concentrate my efforts on reading about puberty in AS and hope to find some resolution.

I think you are right, she (an we) have a lot of catching up to do, its just so out of character from what we perceived to be a distracted child who failed to make friends to the one we have now with such behavioral extremes is a real shocker to the system, the regression is alarming at best and downright scary monsters in the cupboard at best.

I fear for her future. I guess as a SP it is easier to be more objective but also harder as the blood-bond is not strong, love is there of course after so many years, however, it is so very hard to understand without the empathy for a born child. Does that make sense or do I just sound like a horrible old cow? A bit of both I suspect. sad

WetAugust Mon 05-Apr-10 23:03:55

Sometimes you have to step in and get CAMHS to focus their efforts on specific problems - they are very fond of fudging issues.

Understand totally what you're saying about being a step-parent. My own DS's step-mother regularly rants to me about him grin. I just tell her she should be glad she doesn't have to live with him grin

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Mon 05-Apr-10 23:08:23

Wet. You have great insight to this, many thanks again and please forgive us step mums who literally cannot get into step with the kids. I do try and will try harder. I will definitely be back to this forum, it has been brilliant and calmed me down no end so many thanks.

maryz Mon 05-Apr-10 23:11:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fortheloveofeverythingholey Tue 06-Apr-10 06:52:15

Maryz - I am so sorry to here of your pleight but it
does explain the process around the lying very well. That at that moment in time they believe that they have not done the crime, I can see it in her face almost then reality comes crashing down and the reality sets in.

Thanks for posting, I am still at a loss but an informed loss!!

dollymixture31 Wed 29-Jul-15 16:15:31

I know I'm late to this party but is there anyone still on this thread? I read this today and everything about it resonates with me. My stepdaughter is 12, had just been diagnosed as mildly Aspergers and lies to the high heavens. Not "I'm not asleep on the sofa" sort of lies but "I went to a club last night because I had to get some information out of a guy for my secret job. Luckily I didn't have to sleep with his this time as it was so easy, I just knocked him out cold and left"...and she had an explanation as to how a 12 year old could get into a club "I have a friend who does me favours and gets me fake ID - in the right clothes and make up I can pass as 19" (no, she can't)...and an elaborate story about getting beaten to a pulp in camp while protecting her friend who is gay, being forced to do push ups until she collapsed etc. It was a literary camp. Because she likes to write. And much much more with the lies. I have NO IDEA what to do. I would love to chat with the OP about her experiences since 2010.

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