Every once in a while, when reading something about autism online, I come across people who still buy into the “Refrigerator Mother” theory.
I can’t even begin to tell you how hurtful this is. Sure, people will say that “probably” not all autism cases stem from this, but then they will go on to provide anecdotal evidence outlining all of the autistic children they know who have mothers with psychological problems, or are detached, or are uncaring, or are uninvolved. So, they may *say* that it’s not the “only” cause of autism, but clearly they believe that it is.
I read stuff like that, and my head tries to know that it’s not my fault that Moose has autism, but the doubt creeps in. Maybe I did do something wrong when he was a baby that made him feel unloved. Maybe I’m not a good enough mother. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time with him or talk to him enough, or, or, or… And this doubt all starts when someone who doesn’t even have a child with autism starts spouting off a bunch of nonsense that they absolutely “know” to be true, based on what they’ve observed in a few cases, and let’s face it, no matter how much they think they know, they don’t have the full story. People rarely do.
And then there’s the other side, where I know that at least some people out there *do* believe it’s the mother’s fault (and how convenient is that? We never hear about “refrigerator fathers,” so only one of the parents has to bear any of the blame at all!), and are looking at my son and wondering what I did to cause this. It doesn’t matter how much I work with him, or advocate for him, or make sure he gets the services he needs, all that matters to some people is that I did “something” to make him be like this.
The last thing the parent of an autistic child needs to hear is that it is their fault that their child has neurological problems–we’re already wondering deep down if we did something wrong during the pregnancy, or during infancy, or something. But to continue to perpetuate myths like this is beyond hurtful, and serves no good purpose other than to point fingers where they shouldn’t be pointing.