ability to love: presume competence

photo is of a school age child kissing a preschool age child.  The text reads:  “These children are really unable to be in a reciprocal relationship and the moms don’t really experience the love that comes back from a child — the bonding is mitigated,” she told NBC News. “That is one of the most difficult things for mothers.”  False  Dee Shepherd-Look

I went offline for about 24 hours and came back to another true story about a mother murdering her Autistic child.

And right now, I can’t regurgitate the same things I’ve been saying every other time an Autistic child is murdered by his/her parent.

I just can’t.

What I can do.  What I want to do.  What I need to do is unequivocally deny the claim made by Dee Shepherd-Look regarding Autistic children.  In an interview with NBC News, she said that she was surprised that Autistic children are not murdered by parents more often and, “These children are really unable to be in a reciprocal relationship and the moms don’t really experience the love that comes back from a child — the bonding is mitigated,” she told NBC News. “That is one of the most difficult things for mothers.”

She’s an expert who runs an “education group for mothers of Autistic children.”

We don’t need more uneducated experts dangerously mis-educating parents and the general population about Autistic people.

Autistic people love.

Autistic people are perfectly capable of reciprocal relationships.

Take it from me.  I’m an actual expert on having reciprocal relationships with Autistic people.

I’m in many, in fact.  Loving, two way friendships with the most lovely people–Autistic people.

And I am in a loving relationship with my Autistic daughter.

My Autistic daughter loves.  That picture above?  That’s her loving her younger sister.

She lavishes love and affection those close to her.

She loves.  She loves.  She loves.

Don’t tell me she doesn’t love.


Think Autistic people are incapable of loving?  That says more about you than it does about the people you’re mis-characterizing.

*** I don’t have the energy to devote to critiquing murder apologists.  But others have done a heartbreakingly wonderful job.  So if you’re inclined to say, “Walk in the mother’s shoes” after reading about a 6 year old being tossed 130 feet off a bridge into ice cold water by his mother?

First read this:
Here, try on some of my shoes.”  by Radical Neurodivergence Speaking

Then read these which are specific to London’s murder:
Not again…#Justice for London” by Kimberly Faith of Eccentricities and Introspection
#JusticeForLondon” by Heather of Raising Rebel Souls
“.…I dare you.” by Michelle of Amazing Adventures Parenting Autistic Children
Murder of London McCabe, Age 6” by Paula Durbin Westby
Faces” by Lei of Autistic Times Two
Another Child” by ischemgeek



22 thoughts on “ability to love: presume competence

  1. I love you, Beth! I love your whole family. I love my friends and my boyfriend and my cat and my family. I am bursting with love. And I am Autistic. And I am so tired of the lies people tell about us. We are loving people. And the last thing in this world that we deserve is to be thrown off a high bridge into the cold ocean to die. I wish I could have adopted London. I am poor and I don’t have much to offer a child, but I have lots of love and I would never have thrown him off a bridge. 😦

  2. When people show their love differently than we want to be loved, that doesn’t mean they don’t love. It means we need to open ourselves to receiving love in its many glorious expressions.

  3. Our children are Absolutely capable of showing love ! It is the unspoken love that creates the greatest bond . Open yourselves up to their world and you will be amazed at the love and beauty within.

  4. I found contact information in case anyone wants to write to the professor or to people who can discipline her.

    Dee Shepherd-Look: dshepherd-look@csun.edu
    Jill Razani, chair of the psychology department at California State University, Northridge (i.e. Shepherd-Look’s supervisor: jill.razani@csun.edu
    Gary Katz, who co-directs CSUN’s graduate clinical psychology program with Shepherd-Look: gary.katz@csun.edu
    The Equity and Diversity Office at CSUN: equityanddiversity@csun.edu

  5. Copy of the email I just sent her colleagues:

    Dear Madam & Sir

    It is with enormous distress that I send this correspondence, specifically in relation to a recent interview given by your colleague Prof Dee Shepherd-Look in which she states:

    “quite frankly, I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often.”
    “These children are really unable to be in a reciprocal relationship and the moms don’t really experience the love that comes back from a child — the bonding is mitigated. That is one of the most difficult things for mothers.”

    I have never read such unmitigated and dangerously negligent nonsense from the mouth of a so-called professional in this field. To think this person runs a “support” group for the mothers of autistic children, harbouring ableist and appalling attitudes like that, sheds some light on why some parents actually do murder their autistic children. Indeed I’m surprised that any of the autistic children of the parents Dee Shepherd-Look has counseled are still alive, given the monstrous things I’m sure they’ve been told about their children.

    They way we speak about autism & autistic people, matters. Professionals who set a scene of catastrophe and insurmountable dislocation are an enormous part of the problem faced by autistic people. It’s a crying shame that such people aren’t, instead, devoting their considerable time & resources to teaching neurotypical parents of autistic children to snap out of their rigid expectations of what a valuable, lovable child is, and stop putting the burden to conform onto people whose capacity to do so is outside of “the norm” through no fault of their own. It’s incredibly ironic to me, as the mother of at least 1 autistic child (the second I haven’t sought a Dx for frankly, I know what to do) that it’s neurotypical professionals & parents who are never prepared to be flexible in their requirements; That autism is all about them actually and this is actually what leads to the callous, indifferent murder of autistic children.

    Dee Shepherd-Look deserves to be professionally censured for her hurtful comment, made apologise & either cite her evidentiary sources or retract, because I alone have two children who show her to be utterly wrong & a further large cohort of autistic people behind me that will discredit her completely.

  6. I am an autistic adult and for the last 6 years I have been educating parents of autistic children. I have explained to them that when an autistic child does NOT show love at a parent, it does mean that the child is not feeling love BUT not because he can not love (incapable), but better because it does not feel LOVED by that parent. Love is not what the parent think he/she is giving, BUT what the child actually experiences. If the parent feels that his/her child is not showing love towards them, then they should realize that they as a parent, are not fulfilling their role successfully. Incompetence in parents today is far more common than we wish to acknowledge, Parents that do realize their role and contribution to becoming the parent their child needs, they see love bloom in their relationship with the child and this benefits the siblings, too.
    There is a lot of information about autism that is incomplete and thus incorrect.
    They advertise the “problems” but constantly assume that everyone is perfect and correct but the autistic child, and that every disorder in communication, emotions and socialization roots within the autistic child, rather than seeing this behavior as a way of communicating what the child experiences. The parent and environment acts. The autistic child reacts. Like it or not there was a great deal of truth behind the “Frigid mother” theory. If the child experiences coldness from feeling unloved, then the “mother” (parent that the child will learn bonding from) is the one who is frigid and does not show love. The child experiences a frigid mother. He will not pretend. He will tell the truth as we all autistic persons do.

  7. Came over here from Musings of An Aspie…and I didn’t know this happened. I am horrified completely. I am an Autistic mother with three children on varied parts of the spectrum and we have the MOST BEAUTIFUL life. It has its challenges of course…but my children and I are perfectly able to show love…our actions are also our love and so is the way we share our interests ect. Thank you for writing this post.

  8. we://www.pbs.org/pov/refrigeratormothers/fridge.php

    This is a link regarding “refrigerator mothers”, Perla. As the proud and loving mother of an autistic child, I’m flabbergasted that you would reference this hurtful, hateful theory as being at all true and applicable. I have officially un-blogged myself.

    • Actually Marie, Perla is quite correct. We’ve just gone from labeling parents (refrigerator mothers) to labeling kids (attachment disordered). Instead of teaching parents how to care for and love their disabled children, we compound the initial problem of neglectful and abusive parenting by blaming the disabled child for everyone’s misery. We don’t tolerate this for healthy children, so why should we disregard the safety and happiness of children who are disabled?

      • it’s because people want simple answers instead of complex multifactoral systemic analysis of the problems that we face.

        it’s much easier to place blame on one individual or another.

  9. @ Dee Shepherd-Look: Why don’t you try telling that to Alison Tepper Singer’s daughter, who, even as her mother pushed her away as she spoke of how the girl didn’t love her and how she wanted to drive off a bridge with her, kept trying to give her mother a hug. A pretty clear expression of love in any language, no?

    • Would just like to add that I copy/pasted my words from my comment and added to them, then sent the whole thing to the email addresses from kisekileia’s comment (Dee Shepherd-Look’s address in the main box, the rest in the BCC box).

  10. Pingback: L is for Love | Unstrange Mind

  11. Upon reading the excerpt provided really the *degreed propagandist* (what she is done – as if Normdom needed such preaching, given its instinctual hatred of autists)
    … The real reason more parents aren’t killing their ‘autistic social sinkholes’ is that the government hasn’t specifically sanctioned such behavior.

    Namely, it’s still illegal to murder us ‘in cold blood.

    There isn’t yet a replay of the 1933 ‘racial purity law’ – nor is there a warped version of westernized hindutva around to provide religious approval for what the bulk of Normdom feels in its bones – that our existence is a blot upon their magickal worldview, and our extermination would cause a new golden age to arise – a world where there is truly ONE type of mind.

    Yea, even ‘one people, one world, and one leader’.

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