September 23, 2010

Guest Blogger Thursday

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:24 am by autismmommytherapist

Through my Thursday posts I’d like to provide a more widespread forum for parents, family members, and practitioners of children with disabilities to provide practical tips for parents, as well as a place to share their views on raising a child with a disability. These contributions will be their ideas and stories, and not necessarily reflect the sentiments of those of autismmommytherapist


Today’s guest blogger is Shivon, welcome!

Refrigerator Mother

In the 1950′s Dr. Leo Kanner coined the term “Refrigerator Mother”. This term was used to describe the mother of a 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. ”

The definition of Refrigerator Mother is basically a cold and uncaring woman defrosting just enough to produce a child. (

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 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 developmental challenges that ours face today. The isolation and judgment 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.


Shivon Carreno



  1. Mary Craig said,

    This was wonderful Shivon! I’m a hugger, kisser, snuggler and have been since the day my kids were born. My son will hug his teachers, friends, family, his baby doll and our cat if she sits still long enough. A child with a socially based disorder like Autism doesn’t become that loving and engaging without a loving, caring example. Nobody knows your child like you do Shivon and sometimes you have to quiet your mind so you hear your heart/gut clearly and quash the doubts.

    We will prove this theory wrong one loving, advocating mom at a time!

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