In the 1950’s Dr. Leo Kanner coined the term “Refrigerator Mother”. This term was used to describe the mother of child diagnosed with autism or schizophrenia. Dr. Bruno Bettleheim made the term popular as he likened the mothers of children with autism to guards of Nazi Concentration camps. Bettleheim stated in his book “The Empty Fortress: Infantile Autism and the Birth of the Self ” that “the difference between the plight of prisoners in a concentration camp and the conditions which lead to autism and schizophrenia in children is, of course, that the child has never had a previous chance to develop much of a personality. ”
While this idea has been completely excluded as a cause for autism in the United States, many in South Korea still believe that the “Refrigerator Mother” is the root cause for autism.
I CANNOT IMAGINE.
I have a great deal of guilt that I carry everyday for numerous things surrounding Diego’s ASD. But if someone told me that I didn’t nurture my child enough and as a result caused his autism, I would be devastated. It is funny that I should read about this today as I have the opinions of many different experts affecting Diego’s treatment plan and options surrounding me. Some of these experts with their varying opinions have caused me at times to completely doubt myself and what I KNOW to be true about my son. I am thankful that I live in a day and age where mothers can speak up and challenge the “experts” if they do not agree.
In the 1950’s women were encouraged to be seen and not heard. What a sad time for so many that have had to raise children with the same develomental challenges that ours face today. The isolation and judgement must have been absolutely horrible. So in honor of them I will do my very best to take the advice of a lot of mothers I know and not doubt myself or what I know about my son.
I AM THE EXPERT IN MY SON.