An Autistic Child is Murdered

Another Autistic child has been murdered by one of his parents.  This time it is a six-year old, little boy named London McCabe.  London joins a growing list of Autistic children who have been murdered in recent years.

A psychology professor who runs an “education” group for mothers of autistic children in California said, “quite frankly, I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often.”

Wow.

“I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often.”

The casual nature of this comment stunned me.

She then went on to say, “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.”  This horrifying statement is untrue, but beyond that, the suggestion that if our feelings are not reciprocated, it makes sense that we become murderous, is to make us so narcissistic, so incredibly monstrous as to be unbelievable.   This is Bruno Bettelheim’s famous “refrigerator mother” theory reapplied to Autistic children and it is just as awful in this new version as it was in the original.

Most Autistic children feel love for their parents, just as most non-autistic children do.  Even when their parents behave horribly toward them, even when they’ve been treated with contempt, ignored, bullied, ridiculed and publicly shamed by those who say they love them, even then, most children still love their parents.  As they grow older many may have more complicated feelings of despair, abandonment, become distrustful, anxious and terrified.  The idea that Autistic children do not feel intensely is an outrageously, misinformed idea.  Just because someone does not reciprocate in a way non-autistics understand, recognize or expect does not mean the feelings do not exist. 

It is extremely disturbing to read such a statement coming from someone who is treated with deference and as though she is an authoritative voice on the topic of autism and Autistic people.  This professor is one of a number of people who has a degree in psychology and has made inaccurate, misinformed and mistaken statements about autism and Autistic people, yet none stop to ask what the psychological damage is to the Autistic children and adults they demonize with their incorrect statements, not to mention the impact such statements have on a misinformed public.  Unfortunately, few seem to be asking any questions about any of this or even bothering to find out if such statements are true, including the newspaper that published her comments.

There is an increasing number of Autistic men, women, teens and even younger people who are writing about their experience of life, their relationships and the world.  I am surprised when I meet someone in the field of autism who does not follow at least some of the blogs so many Autistic people are writing.  The Resources page of Emma’s Hope Book has dozens of links to Autistic people’s writing.  The first 28 blogs listed are written by non-speaking Autistics.  One of those people is my daughter, Emma.  After a presentation Emma gave in New York City a few months ago, she and I had the following conversation:

Emma:  I hope people will question what they have been told.
Ariane:  I do too.
Emma:  Horrible ideas about people, cause many to do terrible things…
A little later in that same conversation, Emma typed, “Worry and fear are fueled by furious words spoken harshly.  Humor soothes, shining sunny rays spreading hope.”

As the mother of an Autistic daughter who cannot communicate fluently with spoken language, but communicates beautifully by typing, I am continuously shocked by the inaccurate information that is rampant on the topic of autism and Autistic people.  Yesterday Emma typed, “Understanding that all human beings want connection is natural and fundamentally human.”  And last week Emma wrote, “The people of this world need to be exposed to difference and then shown compassion for their ignorance and limited thinking.”

For people who do not have the ability to communicate with spoken language and/or have sensory issues that impact each individual differently, expecting them to respond the way people who do not have any problem speaking and have never been assaulted by their environment, is relying on a false idea.  It is this false idea that continues to misrepresent so many.  It is this false idea that serves to hurt Autistic people.

The psychology professor told NBC News that mothers do not have the experience of their love returned by their child.   “That is one of the most difficult things for mothers” she told the reporter.

If this were true, it would be hard.  Years ago, when I once believed a great many things about my daughter, that I now know are not true, it was an awful feeling.  But it is far worse to be that child who loves, but is believed incapable of love.  It is far worse to be so thoroughly misunderstood, to be constantly misrepresented in public, to be thought so problematic that people sympathize with the mother who murders you… that is far more horrific than anything I will ever experience in this world.

London McCabe

London McCabe

45 responses to “An Autistic Child is Murdered

  1. I am saddened by this news. It hurts really bad. My heart goes out to all mothers, farhers and guardians of students with ASD.
    I am going to give each one of my students a huge long lasting hug this morning.

    Miss you Emma.

  2. Yes. Could they at least try to listen o autistic people bout autism? This would be nice. I hate these stories and i hate how autistic lives do not count.

  3. My precious 3 year old grandson has ASD and is non-verbal. He is the sweetest, most precious little boy. Although he doesn’t show his emotions in the same way as “normal” 3 year olds, he is very clear about his feelings and emotions, if we pay attention. I wouldn’t change him or trade him for anything in this whole world. This story of the tragic loss of this boy is devastating. What is wrong with people?? Self absorbency, I believe is the problem.
    Love your blog, Emma is an inspiration.
    Jean

  4. The professor who made those statements needs to be educated and yes, why wouldn’t anyone who wants to know about autistics read the blogs. I came late to blogs written by people with autism, many years late. I didn’t know they existed. Many educated people I know; those who are parents of autistic children and professionals who work with children with special needs are unaware of the blogs. In what other ways can autistics spread the word so that many millions of people can know the truths? In what ways can autistics become more visible and vocal about misconceptions, lies, speculations, fears etc? We need to “hear” from professionals with autism through mainstream media.

    • Why wouldn’t the “experts” want to read the blogs? Because they can dismiss them as anecdotes, say “anecdotes do not equal evidence”, and in those few “objective” words, dismiss what autistics have to say. If they cannot dismiss it, if the person is right in front of them, they will simply use a version of “[that person] is too high-functioning to be representative of the kind of autism I’m talking about” or “that person is not autistic”. This holds true especially if the “expert” is neurotypical and does not find that any of those entries resonate with them. If half the blog entries that resonated with me were lies made up by those pretending to have representation they don’t, that would be a coincidence so great as to be borderline miraculous or magical. The very Occam’s Razor that is used against autistics, especially nonspeaking ones, also could state that, if a number of blog entries by people like you resonate with you, then many of those entries are authentic and written by as many people as wrote them. The alternate explanations would consist of the following:
      1) people happening to make a blog entry by accident that resonates with you although they know nothing about you; if you see a lot of the junk that passes for facts in the foul depths of the Internet, you can see how hard it would be to accidentally pull a highly resonant truth you would not be capable of knowing out of your posterior. And I mean truth, not Trumpisms.
      2) somebody (or a few somebodies) being such a tremendously good hacker as to not only set up hundreds if not thousands of blog profiles in different media but also to be able to dredge up hundreds of thousands of private photos not found elsewhere on the internet, such a tremendously good computer animator as to be able to fake hundreds of photos and film hundreds of videos, many of them several minutes long, about people other than them that look 100% real and do them, in some cases, within the span of less than a month (less than a day even), so good at managing time as to be able to manage the separate asks on hundreds of blogs and fake those asks within a realistic time period (wow, this person/people must have the mother of all Time-Turners!), and that same person being such a tremendously good writer as to not only being regularly able to write hundreds of blog entries in a single day, but to effortlessly mimic hundreds of different writing styles. Wow, what an impressive performer!

      It is clear that, in light of this evidence I have, being an autistic for whom many of those blog entries resonate and others nearly resonate, that the most parsimonious explanation for this truly miraculous phenomenon on my end is that the blog entries were genuinely written by hundreds of autistics, each of them with their own insights and experiences.

  5. This is a terrible thing, but the psychologist didn’t say anything different from what you’re saying, just in a different way. He didn’t say autistic kids don’t feel love, he said they don’t experience the love. Which is what you said when talking about them not reciprocating the way non-autistics understand, etc. Just different wording. You act like she was justifying it, or blaming the kids, which is not anything like I’m seeing here. She’s just talking about how hard it can be – same as you. Don’t demonize other people who are trying to help, just because there isn’t enough hand-wringing in their language for you.

    • Rebecca – “He didn’t say autistic kids don’t feel love, he said they don’t experience the love. Which is what you said when talking about them not reciprocating the way non-autistics understand, etc.”

      Saying a group of people do not feel love for their parents is NOT the same as saying that the love felt is expressed in ways that are different from the ways in which the parent might express it.

  6. This one hit close to home. My Nathan is about 2 months younger than London. The hardest part about this, for me, is that at this age, there is such a level of trust between the parent and the child. Honestly, if I took Nathan up on a bridge and picked him up to throw him off (which I would NEVER do….no one needs to hunt me down and call cps….all is well here) he would let me do it, because he trusts that I wouldn’t do anything to hurt him. That’s the part that really gets me….that London probably thought he was out for a fun walk….and how scared and confused he must have been on the way down.
    As for the autistic expert who said that she is surprised that this doesn’t happen more….that’s just an invitation for this to happen more often. She’s one step away from endorsing this.

  7. usethebrainsgodgiveyou

    ~Humor saves face~. That’s what a social worker told us parents in a talk I attended years ago and I took it as gospel truth. Good call, Emma. We all are human, and true laughter heals. It signifies a trust.

    I think the fear engendered by people who should know better just shows the inadequacy and the weakness of their “expert opinion”. Fear mongering is for cowards. Cowards, I tell ya….and Ariane, that is one thing you are not.

    I am sorry for little London. No child deserves that. Maybe we need ABA for murdering parents, so they can learn to be human. A part of me thinks that the warning signs are ignored. The most apparent is a parent who looks for pity, from what I’ve seen. It shows a total lack of acceptance.

    If you don’t enjoy your children, give them up. There’s a chance someone else will. Don’t deny the children you say you love a chance to live a better life.

    • I myself would hate to be in an institution; that is my choice. If your only choices are murder a kid or put them in an institution, however, do the latter; it is up to the child to decide if they would rather be dead than institutionalized, not yours as a parent. After all, we put old people in nursing homes instead of murdering them, don’t we? Or care for them at home?

  8. oh dear he is so cute! How can this happen?! What causes people to go to these acts? It’s just awful. Neither of my children are typically verbal but they show me love in their way, how can people say such things about the bond being broken and love not being reciprocated?? That is just pure ignorance and so called ‘professionals’ (smh) spreading more of said ignorance. Sad sad day.

  9. “Honestly, if I took Nathan up on a bridge and picked him up to throw him off (which I would NEVER do….no one needs to hunt me down and call cps….all is well here) he would let me do it, because he trusts that I wouldn’t do anything to hurt him.”

    One of the things I would like to see is for more people to feel that they *should* report instabilities, to widen the group of people who are aware that there could be a problem, to not see a visit from “cps” or another friend, and the question, as offensive in itself, but a check, that all is well. So, that we could stop treating the fear of instability (the mother who is considering killing the person she’s caring for, or the teen who is planning on shooting his girlfriend) as so impossible that we turn away.

    I once posted a concern on a blog I read, and then felt very bad. Because, I was wrong; But, on the off chance that I was right, that the mom was on edge? Maybe a comment could make the difference in someone seeking help?

    • I couldn’t agree more. I would rather take a chance of being wrong than potentially saving a life. I’m sure London would voice this opinion to, but that option was taken away from him.

  10. I read that and briefly went off the rails. I wanted to give her a massive piece of my mind. I think others have probably done a much better job than I would have at that. Today, I emailed her about breaking stereotypes, gave links to the science behind the newer theories re. sensory/empathy overload, and links to autistic bloggers so she can get more exposure to the information that will help her practice, and help the mothers that she professes to want to help.

    If she’s operating off the “old school” perceptions and just dealing with the parents (especially if they’re the martyr type), her experience and exposure is lopsided and that needs to change. A lot of people really don’t seem to even be aware of the depth of autistic experience on the web. I hope this is the case, and I hope she takes advantage of the opportunity to learn. I’m really hoping that she’s a REAL professional who will listen to new information, and move away from the old “understanding” of autism.

    It feels like that story of the beached starfish (http://www.esc16.net/users/0020/FACES/Starfish%20Story.pdf) – we keep throwing them back in the ocean because each starfish makes a difference, but it’s huge task.

  11. Rebecca White you must understand that if a child expresses their love for a parent in a way that is different from the parent or not what society considers the norm then the assumption is that this child can’t express or reciprocate that love.

    Our assumption is that there are specific ways that children show their love for a parent and if a child does not say I love you mommy or give hugs; among some of our most “accepted” forms of expressing love then love is not being expressed by the child. But many know that’s a bias. When a parent(and everyone) allows themselves to stop assuming things about their autistic child and stop striving for our limited societal norm; when a parent really respects that their child has feelings and competence but has difficulty or a different way of showing them then one knows what’s true.

    Autistic people want love, to express love and to connect with others. That’s the truth which I and many know. When people assume or have been told that children with autism can’t reciprocate love our sympathy goes to the parent. Our society feels the pain for the parent. The real tragedy is London was the child of a parent who felt that if he could not be normal he should be dead. Who wants a society which feels this way?

  12. The revolution where people finally understand that autistic people are capable of love and having feelings cannot come soon enough. My prayers are with London. So sad to see yet another one of these type of posts.

  13. When my son was first diagnosed with Epilepsy and NF1 at 9 months old, the first thing my soon to be ex husband said to me was “I’m going to kill him and kill myself with him”. I was shocked, shocked with fear. Shocked with disbelief. And when I asked him why would he do such a heinous thing to a helpless child, he replied “you just said it, because he’s going to be helpless. He is going to drown in this world that’s filled with evil people. Evil people that will take advantage of him and I will not allow that to happen to my son”
    For me to hear these words made me realize how depressed and how heartbroken this man was. I knew he was saying these words because he was scared. Scared for our son. But I didn’t give it any importance. I was on a mission to find all the resources that I can find to help my son.
    I’m not trying to justify the injustice that all those innocent children faced, but some people get so caught up in their own deep dark depression that they stop seeing the light. And that’s when they really need to seek out help of a professional. As a parent of a special needs child, I too had my dark days, but I get up every morning and whisper in my sons ears, you will be ok, we will be ok. And I believe these words. Even though my son is non verbal, I see so much wisdom in his eyes, and omg, the love, the love he has for us is indescribable. I don’t need to hear the words to feel the love. People should open up more, and try to capture that small window of opportunity when our children allow us in their worlds. Once people do that, they will forever see the light. I think it’s absolutely selfish to assume and presume that our kids have no empathy. Our kids are so much more. Their souls are so pure, so free…Rest in peace London. And to my soon to be ex husband and all those parents who REFUSE to see the beauty of our children, I say this, I feel sorry for you all, I feel sorry that you are missing out on the most incredible journey, the journey of pure love…

  14. Reblogged this on Exceptional Delaware and commented:
    This is heart wrenching. This psychologist should lose his license immediately for making statements like that. When discrimination occurs at that high of a level, there needs to be a frank conversation regarding laws against disability discrimination.

  15. I just wanted to chime in about “reciprocal relationships”. It is true that there are some parents who need to be needed so badly, that when we cannot “show” or “prove” our love in the way they expect they become jealous and even murderous. Both parents tried to kill me at different times–all because of their own issues with what I WAS NOT providing for them! There are certainly many people like that out there, and I also wondered why it didn’t happen more often. I guess I am still “an enigma”…

  16. Thank you for writing this beautiful post. It honors the memory of London McCabe.

  17. Oh, yes, we experience love. Tired of the stupidity of “experts.” For anyone who does not know, most stages of parenting even *typical* children are not “reciprocal.” I can’t rewrite that here but already wrote about it on my blog. I hope it’s OK to post. http://paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog.blogspot.com/2014/11/london-mccabe-autistic-murder.html

  18. Pingback: No Buts About It | Hiraeth

  19. I am so very tired of it being the autistic who are treated as monsters and our murders justified when well people are murdered so routinely it is hard to see how it can be us who lack all those lovely human qualities the experts go at.

    I read about Logan when recovering physically from something I may never recover from emotionally. Unfortunately I read some comments from parents that again said they could relate to that desire and having just been completely brutalized in a hospital setting it is just too much entirely.

    I had sat out a call for autistic bloggers to write seeking justice for a single named autistic victim because I am tired of having to make the case that my life, our lives have value. It feels like bleeding at this point.

    I am so very sad for him, for those who could not see his beauty and for myself and those like me. If we survive the damage done by knowing how society views us is an injury quite horrible.

    I am going to follow Paula’s lead here and link to my most recent post. While mine is mainly about seclusion and restraint the haiku in it, had Logan and our entire neurological tribe who have been killed or brutalized for not being NT much on my mind.

    It is often easier to be upset for all of autistic kind than for something so personal that it is hard to write about.

    http://gareeth.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/seclusion-and-restraint/

  20. just because a persons forms of expression are deemed to be limited, it can not be said that they they do not love, do not express it and that others do not understand or experience the love that is shown.

    There are many ways to provide, show and experience love for one another and bonding can also be achieved in many ways.

    Unfortunately, some professionals can not able or unwilling to accept anything which they feel is outside the ‘norm’. Some feel that because they have been extensively educated and trained, they know everything and do not always except experience emanating from others as a valid means of increasing their knowledge.

    Knowledge is just a starting point in applying theory and should not be used as the only valid means of dealing with a situation. Each individual needs to be understood and listened to, for as individuals we are all different.

  21. Reblogged this on 61chrissterry and commented:
    just because a persons forms of expression are deemed to be limited, it can not be said that they they do not love, do not express it and that others do not understand or experience the love that is shown.

    There are many ways to provide, show and experience love for one another and bonding can also be achieved in many ways.

    Unfortunately, some professionals can not able or unwilling to accept anything which they feel is outside the ‘norm’. Some feel that because they have been extensively educated and trained, they know everything and do not always except experience emanating from others as a valid means of increasing their knowledge.

    Knowledge is just a starting point in applying theory and should not be used as the only valid means of dealing with a situation. Each individual needs to be understood and listened to, for as individuals we are all different.

  22. I agree with CrankySpider. Autistics’ lives do count and so much can be learned from the beautiful thoughts they express. Emma gives me a whole new look at what it means to be human, and the love she expresses in writing about other humans fills me with awe and wonder.

    It’s murderers that should be castigated!
    Granma Paula

  23. Pingback: expression is not existence – again (and again and again and again) | a diary of a mom

  24. Not to belittle this at all, but when I read the story originally, it just felt like another example of the self-centric culture that we live in and what that can wreak. The psychologist’s comments sum this up, a moral shrug at the mother’s actions, as if to say “She couldn’t be expected to put her life on hold for this child”. Just another example of how we don’t value life in this nation, and especially the life of our kids.

  25. Barbara Fischkin

    I quote from above: “As the mother of an Autistic daughter who cannot communicate fluently with spoken language, but communicates beautifully by typing, I am continuously shocked by the inaccurate information that is rampant on the topic of autism and Autistic people. ” My own version: As the mother of a son who has autism and cannot communicate fluently with spoken language, but communicates beautifully by typing – with me and a few others – I am continuously shocked by the inaccurate information that is rampant on the topic of autism and Autistic people. People with autism feel deeply. These horrible deaths, I believe, are committed by people who are unable to cope with the challenges of parenting a child with autism. They are not committed by people who don’t believe their children feel emotion for them. We don’t need talking heads assessing what is going on in our lives, We need to find out who these people are and provide them more support and services to prevent desperate, horrific reactions.

    • Hi Barbara – regarding the idea of support and services… I doubt any would disagree that this is an issue that needs to be discussed, but when it’s done (and it ALWAYS is brought up when the child is Autistic, but rarely if ever when a non-autistic child is murdered by a parent) it turns the conversation away from focusing on this child’s life being cut short and diminishes the horror of what the person who killed their child has done. I do not think, for a moment, that this is your intention at all.
      I read a terrific piece about all of this that I urge you to read – http://sonnolenta.com/2014/11/07/a-tale-of-two-murders/

  26. But you know, even if it IS true – and I imagine with some severely autistic children it probably is true that they can’t return a parent’s love – so what? That hardly makes it okay (or even understandable) that you would choose to throw that child off a bridge. Wasn’t there a guy a couple thousand years ago who said something like: anyone can love someone who shows you love, but the real test of being a human is to love someone who can’t or won’t love you back?

    Maybe all the experts and pundits saying “it’s understandable you’d want to kill your kid in a situation like this” are really saying “it’s a lot easier for our society if you just kill your kid, because then we don’t have to improve our health care or health insurance systems or provide full and equal coverage for therapies for autism or make sure your kid gets a truly appropriate education or make sure you have a support group.”

    Sad and infuriating.

  27. She murdered her child because she was an unfit mother who would a snapped at an y child but a child is not supposed to love forcefully u are supposed to love them autistic child are unique and some are afraid of that murder is not the a u tins were the a u tins wets were is we teach them no matter how many times it takes I have step son who is autistic and u know what made difference the being an outcast or being a kid who never made it being a ” normal” kid professors should not be professors if they do not know what they talking about my step son has 5 x the heart as a”normal” kid but also 5 x the heart can break if bullied by a so called “normal” kid

  28. My father always says little knowledge is dangerous which is true in this case the Autism “experts” are sharing what little they know and making the rest up as the go along which in endangering the lives of Autistic people.

  29. I’m often told that my toddler on the spectrum is one of THE most loving children. I’m so thankful (blessed) that he’s affectionate, but if he wasn’t I would love him no less. Has this idiot ever considered that these parents-from-hell would have this behavior no matter if the child had Autism or not?! The news has stories of abuse way too often because the child “wouldn’t stop crying”. An evil person is an evil person no matter the situation. Don’t blame Autism.

  30. Autism is never fatal; the parents of Autistic people can be. Just sayin’.

  31. Pingback: Why You’re Probably Thinking of Autism Wrong

  32. Bearer_of_the Flame

    An Eye for an Eye… Too long has this been allowed to continue… If it was a NT child, there would be outrage and the perpetrator prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law… For an Autistic child, all sympathy for the killer and they walk scot free… Enough is enough…

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  34. Pingback: The Jerk Store called. They’re running out of you! – The Unabashed Autist

  35. Ladyofroyalhorses

    Reblogged this on Appalachian Aspie part two. and commented:
    When will it end?

  36. Pingback: An Autistic Child is Murdered | Emma’s Hope Book – autisticagainstantivaxxers

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