Aug 16

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Autism Myths: Why the Refrigerator Moms Myth Never Really Disappeared

Autism Myths: Why the Refrigerator Moms Myth Never Really Disappeared

Autism Myths: Why the Refrigerator Moms Myth Never Really Disappeared

The refrigerator moms myth dates back to the 1950s and refers to the incorrect idea that cold, detached mothers were responsible for their children’s autism. Although medical professionals, researchers and parents have debunked this myth, parts of the refrigerator mothers’ concept continue to exist. Mothers may not be blamed for being distant anymore, but they are still seen as responsible in other ways.

Understanding the Refrigerator Moms Myth

The refrigerator moms’ idea set a negative precedent that women should be blamed for autism in their children and that they were responsible for creating a dysfunctional relationship. The idea stems from the limited research of Leo Kanner in the 1940s. Kanner thought that cold mothers were guilty of creating autistic children. Fortunately, this flawed research has been debunked.

Remnants of the Myth

Although the idea that distant or cold moms are responsible for autism has faded, mothers are still being blamed in other ways. Today, researchers continue to explore the cause of autism, but answers are difficult to find. This has led some medical professionals and scientists to propose various ideas that show the myth of the refrigerator mother has never truly disappeared.

For example, one study focused on the use of non-maternal child care and the rise of autism in today’s society. It was proposed that the reliance on daycare and electronic devices like TVs or video games was responsible for autism because kids were not interacting enough with their moms. The blame was once again placed on women’s shoulders since they had to work and use child care.

Autism is a complicated condition, and there are still parts that remain mysterious. Unfortunately, the myth that mothers have some cause with autism through their actions or behaviors persists. It creates unnecessary blame and guilt that shifts the focus away from trying to help children with autism.

Had you hear of this myth?  What do you think about it.

Permanent link to this article: https://inspiringwordsfromtheheart.com/autism-myths-refrigerator-moms-myth-never-really-disappeared/


  1. 1
    janie vezina

    i dont think this myth is accurate in our situation, our son didnt respond to our constant interactions, long before interaction to media and electronics.

    1. 1.1

      Thanks for sharing how it was with your experience Janie

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