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Parent Blame. Where does it come from?


Where does parent blaming come from?


Let's take a brief look at history for an explanation.


Sigmund Freud

Frued died in 1939. By this time, he dominated his field of psychology. He developed something called psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis was a method for interpreting and therapeutic intervention for what he called "emotional disturbance." His work heavily theorised that early childhood experiences were responsible for "unhealthy developments of the human mind".


Leo Kanner

Kanner identified autism in 1943. He focused on unhealthy Mother-child relationships. Kanner described mothers of autistic children as "a refrigerator that didn't defrost." This was when the term "refrigerator mother" was born.


Bruno Bettelheim

This guy was around from the 1940s until the 1970s. He loved the "refrigerator mother" theory and built on Kanners earlier work. He declared that autism was a result of psychological harm inflicted on children by their mothers.


Ivar Lovaas

Lovas gave us applied behavioral analysis or ABA in the 1970s. ABA leaned heavily on mother blaming. Lovaas believed that autistic children were "blank slates" and that behaviour was imprinted onto children via parent-child interactions. Implying the parents were at fault. ABA is still widely practiced throughout the world despite pushback from the autistic community and research showing a correlation between ABA and post-traumatic stress. It teaches absolute obedience through reward and punishment for up to 40 hours a week for children as young as 2 and 3. The ultimate goal of ABA is to make autistic children "indistinguishable from their peers."


So…there we have it folx. A very brief timeline of exactly why parent blame exists. We are up against rubbish theories dating back to 1896 when Freud first used the term "psychoanalysis."


If that isn't bad enough, a lot of support for autistic children is primarily based on making them present as neurotypical. Social skills? CBT to cope with sensory distress?


I haven't even touched on "the cost of autism."


We have a lot of work to do as a society.


Much Love

Tanya <3

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