Has anyone heard the term 'Refridgerator Mother' before?

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Nambo
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14 Jan 2014, 3:30 pm

I have been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, try looking it up, I have heard confirmation from various sources of my theory that a neglected child does not develop the parts of the brain relating to social skills resulting in similar symptoms to genetically derived Aspergers, two different roads to the same location.

RAD certainly was also attributed to a "refrigerator Mother" and I fail to see how it was discredited, maybe it was too mild compared to the severe effects suffered by the Romanian Children in those homes, I even posted a link on here once about tests on Monkeys who were deprived the normal relationship with their Mothers and hence described as displaying "Autistic behavior", like all mental conditions, there is a scale, and maybe "refrigerator Mother"behavior alone wasn't deemed enough to effect the child to a measurable extent, but its surely logical that a vibrant and happy relationship with ones Mother will result in a happier and better functioning child than one whose Mother would hardly even talk to it.

Not only does a neglected child not develop the social skills of an NT, but the child fills the huge gap in its life by other Aspie like behaviours, such as special interests for instance.



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14 Jan 2014, 7:36 pm

Nambo wrote:
I have been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, try looking it up, I have heard confirmation from various sources of my theory that a neglected child does not develop the parts of the brain relating to social skills resulting in similar symptoms to genetically derived Aspergers, two different roads to the same location.

RAD certainly was also attributed to a "refrigerator Mother" and I fail to see how it was discredited, maybe it was too mild compared to the severe effects suffered by the Romanian Children in those homes, I even posted a link on here once about tests on Monkeys who were deprived the normal relationship with their Mothers and hence described as displaying "Autistic behavior", like all mental conditions, there is a scale, and maybe "refrigerator Mother"behavior alone wasn't deemed enough to effect the child to a measurable extent, but its surely logical that a vibrant and happy relationship with ones Mother will result in a happier and better functioning child than one whose Mother would hardly even talk to it.

Not only does a neglected child not develop the social skills of an NT, but the child fills the huge gap in its life by other Aspie like behaviours, such as special interests for instance.


In South Korea it is believed most Autism is really RAD caused by the mothers http://www.theguardian.com/education/20 ... n.research


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14 Jan 2014, 8:40 pm

"Refrigerator mothers" were proposed by Bettleheim and Kanner as an explanation for why children "became" autistic in the 1950s when the genetics and biomedics of autism were not understood.

Kanner noted that many of the mothers (note: he rarely saw the fathers as they would have been at work while mum took kid to the doctor) were aloof.

Now we know that many of the mothers, as Asperger realised, are on the spectrum themselves and we know that they do care and feel for their child and that they do not neglect them - they just show their caring in other ways and in a formal setting with a doctor they are probably not relaxed enough to show who they really are with their child.
Most mothers on the spectrum are extremely competent and probably spend more time with their children than the "average" mother does - as with any population there are probably a few dysfunctional parents among the ASC group just as there are amongst the NT population.

We also know now that the propensity for autism is present in the genetics of a child from before birth - we don't know precisely where in the genetic code it is hiding, we also don't know what role epigenetics plays, but we definitely know it is nothing to do with how a child is raised (though some behaviours and traits may become more or less entrenched depending on the approach to child care of the carers as is clear in NT families).

Now for the complication:

It is known that neglect and abuse can cause autistic-type behaviours in children who are not autistic.

These children are usually damaged by long term, severe and malicious abuse and neglect, not by a "cold" mother. They can appear very similar to an autistic child.
However, they usually have only a cluster of traits and do not show the whole presentation. They also do not usually have a history consistent with having had the condition from birth.

This is why it is vitally important for a clinician to take a history of early childhood because for an autism spectrum condition to be there the traits must have been present from birth - if there is any doubt they will usually refuse diagnosis, especially in younger people.



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14 Jan 2014, 9:49 pm

I've only heard of the term from reading about autism diagnoses that were done in the old days. My mother fit the description but I don't think she was the cause of me having AS. Of course, it didn't help matters either....


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14 Jan 2014, 11:07 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
In South Korea it is believed most Autism is really RAD caused by the mothers http://www.theguardian.com/education/20 ... n.research


I didn't realize the South Koreans were actually French. :(


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15 Jan 2014, 12:11 am

In my part of the world; doctors know a lot about disease. That's about it quite honestly.

If you have questions about anything else, go to them.
Pediatrist, eye specalist, dental surgen, pshycologist, ect...



Hart
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15 Jan 2014, 3:54 am

Thanks for that guys :D

Mambo and ASPartOfMe, I'm glad you posted that; I'd never heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder before. After reading about it, I can see why it's difficult to determine which a child could have, as they're quite similar indeed in their traits. I will definitely have to look in to it further, and discuss it with a professional. I wonder if it's possible to have both?

It's hard to say with the small amount of information provided on RAD, but to be honest, this seems to apply much better towards my sister. I read that RAD can cause anger, and tantrums in children. My sister was an angry child, and often pinched me, hard. I had suspected she was autistic too, yet something wasn't quite right that made me doubt myself; maybe this explains it. I myself actually rarely got angry as a child, but I was withdrawn.

Man, why's it so complicated :P


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15 Jan 2014, 3:33 pm

Hart wrote:
It's hard to say with the small amount of information provided on RAD, but to be honest, this seems to apply much better towards my sister. I read that RAD can cause anger, and tantrums in children. My sister was an angry child, and often pinched me, hard. I had suspected she was autistic too, yet something wasn't quite right that made me doubt myself; maybe this explains it. I myself actually rarely got angry as a child, but I was withdrawn.

Man, why's it so complicated :P


Dont consider anger and tantrums to be a prerequisite to a diagnosis of RAD.
I never had a tantrum in my life and its only in adulthood that I very occasionally get angry, but that requires massive incitement.

My spirit was petty much beaten out of me as a child, all my energy's went on survival.
One Aspie trait I dont have is the inability to not read people, whilst Iam no good at body language, I seem to have an animals instinct of knowing if a person is a good person or a bad person just be looking at them, and I dont recall ever having my initial view of somebody subsequently proven wrong.
I think this was something I learned to do as a child through pure fear.



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15 Jan 2014, 5:48 pm

Hart wrote:
Thanks for that guys :D

Mambo and ASPartOfMe, I'm glad you posted that; I'd never heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder before. After reading about it, I can see why it's difficult to determine which a child could have, as they're quite similar indeed in their traits. I will definitely have to look in to it further, and discuss it with a professional. I wonder if it's possible to have both?

It's hard to say with the small amount of information provided on RAD, but to be honest, this seems to apply much better towards my sister. I read that RAD can cause anger, and tantrums in children. My sister was an angry child, and often pinched me, hard. I had suspected she was autistic too, yet something wasn't quite right that made me doubt myself; maybe this explains it. I myself actually rarely got angry as a child, but I was withdrawn.

Man, why's it so complicated :P


Here is a somewhat detailed Wikipedia Article on Reactive Attachment Disorder
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactive_a ... t_disorder


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15 Jan 2014, 8:42 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Hart wrote:
Thanks for that guys :D

Mambo and ASPartOfMe, I'm glad you posted that; I'd never heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder before. After reading about it, I can see why it's difficult to determine which a child could have, as they're quite similar indeed in their traits. I will definitely have to look in to it further, and discuss it with a professional. I wonder if it's possible to have both?

It's hard to say with the small amount of information provided on RAD, but to be honest, this seems to apply much better towards my sister. I read that RAD can cause anger, and tantrums in children. My sister was an angry child, and often pinched me, hard. I had suspected she was autistic too, yet something wasn't quite right that made me doubt myself; maybe this explains it. I myself actually rarely got angry as a child, but I was withdrawn.

Man, why's it so complicated :P


Here is a somewhat detailed Wikipedia Article on Reactive Attachment Disorder
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactive_a ... t_disorder


What this makes clear to me is that differential diagnosis is going to be extremely tricky. In the case of comparing RAD to AS you would need to look at traits found in AS that are not found in RAD (which is why I'm confident that I, for one, do not have RAD). Characteristics of RAD seem more limited than would be expected in AS, for example. I have an attachment problem, but I think that has much to do with confused social interaction and the tendency of too many people, especially many allistics, to bully. My parents expected me to deal with bullying on my own, which did result from resentment. That said, the detached parenting problem came after the bullying, which was down to being different (related, in retrospect, to AS), not my parents' efforts as parents.

Then you would have to look at other problems that may result from interaction failure among Aspies, leading to depression, anxiety, even anger. I do see why misdiagnosis can be a problem and yes, that will make it complicated.

If you are seeing a lot of people diagnosed with RAD in a population, you have to ask first if there is a major problem with detached parenting in that country, whether that's South Korea or Romanian orphanages, and then to ask if someone might benefit from one diagnosis over another.
.
In the case of RAD, you can blame a cluster of traits on bad parenting. If you have a large number of people with AS in your population, you might have to make some social changes to ensure you don't end up with a dangerously isolated group. In other words, a common RAD diagnosis might have sociopolitical motivation, just as a common AS diagnosis might also have social implications in a country like the US where it changes access to healthcare and social security - none of which changes the fact that some, many or all of those so diagnosed may be being diagnosed correctly.

So yes, it's complicated.



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15 Jan 2014, 9:39 pm

Thanks everyone :D

Nambo, could I ask you what traits you don't have, which would otherwise be related towards a diagnoses for Aspergers? I'm just trying to pin point the subtle differences in my mind.

I don't know if all of these are valid, but I have identified a few in myself, so some clarity would be nice:

While I was considered shy, I was never able to see the intentions of others, which sometimes got me in to trouble. When a group of people had a conversation, and all shared a hidden understanding of something, I was never able to understand what it was, and how they had all communicated that same understanding, without literally saying those words. I've even had guys interested in me, and had no idea, until a friend pointed out that one had been stalking me around my university.

When it comes to stimming, I'm pretty sure I do it, but it's subtle, as I've learned that others frown on it, and have learned to incorporate it in to more socially acceptable movements. When I catch myself doing it though, it's usually visual stimming. I found a video online yesterday of a few children doing this, and it felt awfully familiar, but I no longer do it the way they were, which was much more obvious.

This one seems to be an interesting one, which I may or may not actually be able to have tested. I understand some people with AS suffer from digestive problems, due to a different combination of bacteria living in their system, to regular NTs. I know I do have issues, but they did not surface, or weren't noticeable, until I was about 15 years old.

I don't know where this one would even fall under, but thought I'd throw it in, in case it means anything. Though I've had boyfriends in the past, I never actually felt the desire to have one in the first place. I decided to first start dating once people started asking me why I was never interested in boys. I didn't know the answer, I simply had no interest; even though I was attracted to men, I never wanted a relationship. Not out of fear, or anxiety, I simply never wanted it. I entered in to one, just to see what all the fuss was about, and to appear normal. Once I was in a relationship, I fell head over heels for the guys I was with; which was bad, because they all ended in disaster. While some of it was their fault, I have to admit I was often lost, and had no idea how to behave, which I suspect was the cause of their bad behaviour; or some of it. One guy told me what my problem was; apparently I wasn't selfish enough (which was true), and told me I was supposed to tell him off for his bad behaviour. I didn't realise it was my responsibility to do so. Looking back, this was true for all my relationships.

I was always told I was so lovely, and pleasant as a child. People always commented how I smiled so much, and had such a positive attitude. This did change over time, as certain events took place, but even though I was occasionally depressed, for the larger part I was mostly happy, and care free. My first real instance of bullying didn't actually happen until I was an adult. Back then I had no idea what was going on; I thought it was my fault, but later I realised it wasn't. I met a guy, who while I never dated, was quite close with. He was nice and happy most of the time, but then would pendulum in to a maliciously angry person. He never hurt me physically, but emotionally he was quite damaging to me. I've long since abandoned that friendship. While I didn't know it them, I now suspect he was an extreme Narsasist, as I've looked up different personality disorders, and the symptoms for this reminded me of him.

That's all I can think of for now...sorry for the novel guys...feed back would be much appreciated.


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16 Jan 2014, 11:38 am

It should be taken into account that being autism hereditary or anyway genetic, it's very likely that one or both parents are or were autistic. So the autistic person may have suffered neglect or difficult relationship in their family. It is also easy that in this context vicious circles develop with children rejecting prents and the other way round.


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16 Jan 2014, 1:25 pm

Hart wrote:

Nambo, could I ask you what traits you don't have, which would otherwise be related towards a diagnoses for Aspergers? I'm just trying to pin point the subtle differences in my mind.


I score 128 out of 200 on the Aspie test.
I would say Iam quite good at reading peoples faces, as mentioned before, that being able to see if they are good or bad people, I can tell if somebodies happy or sad so dont have face blindness.
I dont think I really stim, not in a big way, though I do funny things with my eyes and cannot stop tongue trusting.
Apart from that, I seem to share all the other Aspie traits here, I noticed from the RAD link posted about hyper vigilance, I would have learned this as a survival mechanism so for instance I have very acute hearing and jump at the slightest noise, but it doesn't cause me physical pain, just great annoyance.


Hart wrote:
I don't know if all of these are valid, but I have identified a few in myself, so some clarity would be nice:

While I was considered shy, I was never able to see the intentions of others, which sometimes got me in to trouble. When a group of people had a conversation, and all shared a hidden understanding of something, I was never able to understand what it was, and how they had all communicated that same understanding, without literally saying those words. I've even had guys interested in me, and had no idea, until a friend pointed out that one had been stalking me around my university.


Iam exactly the same, I have also been told on many occasions of Girls being interested in me that others see from their body language but of which I am totally unaware.

Hart wrote:
When it comes to stimming, I'm pretty sure I do it, but it's subtle, as I've learned that others frown on it, and have learned to incorporate it in to more socially acceptable movements. When I catch myself doing it though, it's usually visual stimming. I found a video online yesterday of a few children doing this, and it felt awfully familiar, but I no longer do it the way they were, which was much more obvious.


I never did hand flapping but thinking about it, I did used to do some odd things that other children didnt seem to do, especially with my mouth, pumping my cheeks up with air so I looked like a Hamster for instance. Or making strange repetitive noises with my tongue

Hart wrote:
This one seems to be an interesting one, which I may or may not actually be able to have tested. I understand some people with AS suffer from digestive problems, due to a different combination of bacteria living in their system, to regular NTs. I know I do have issues, but they did not surface, or weren't noticeable, until I was about 15 years old.


I had no problems as a Child, but since I got food poisoning 20 years ago, I now have manageable digestive problems.

Hart wrote:
I don't know where this one would even fall under, but thought I'd throw it in, in case it means anything. Though I've had boyfriends in the past, I never actually felt the desire to have one in the first place. I decided to first start dating once people started asking me why I was never interested in boys. I didn't know the answer, I simply had no interest; even though I was attracted to men, I never wanted a relationship. Not out of fear, or anxiety, I simply never wanted it. I entered in to one, just to see what all the fuss was about, and to appear normal. Once I was in a relationship, I fell head over heels for the guys I was with; which was bad, because they all ended in disaster. While some of it was their fault, I have to admit I was often lost, and had no idea how to behave, which I suspect was the cause of their bad behaviour; or some of it. One guy told me what my problem was; apparently I wasn't selfish enough (which was true), and told me I was supposed to tell him off for his bad behaviour. I didn't realise it was my responsibility to do so. Looking back, this was true for all my relationships.


I am the total opposite to the above, ever since I was 6 Ive been mad about some Girl or other, Iam obsessed with wanting to be with somebody and feeling loved and belonging, so I definitely want and need a relationship, what happens with me though is that as soon as one starts to form, I have to destroy it, I cannot abide anybody wanting anything to do with me in a romantic way.
Sex wise, of course I want such, but would rather be used as a piece of meat than as an expression of Love which I find somewhat sickening.

Hart wrote:
I was always told I was so lovely, and pleasant as a child. People always commented how I smiled so much, and had such a positive attitude. This did change over time, as certain events took place, but even though I was occasionally depressed, for the larger part I was mostly happy, and care free.


Same with me, very lovely and pleasant although I was somewhat disruptive in school, which was probably due to being with other children and wanting their attention after having spent the previous 14 hours of each day, kept alone and isolated in my bedroom with no stimulation except for songs I could sing to myself.
So though naughty, I was always nice, My school reports said I was the most popular boy in class.
Even in my 20s people asked why I was always smiling.
I think all the above is a defense mechanism as a result of physical abuse to try and placate everyone you meet so they dont start kicking you in the stomach or the other things parents do.

I would like to point out though my Mother wasn't allowed to interact with me, I had more than a "refrigerator Mother" to affect me, my parents split up when I was one, I was given to my distant Grandparents when I was 18 months old, Grandmother died when I was 3, me and Grandad then lived with my Mother and her new husband when I was 4, the new husband hated me and would abuse me physically and emotionally, for instance he would give me sixpence to walk all the way to the hardware store to buy a stick that he wanted to beat me with.
When I was 5 I was put in childrens homes, but when I came home at 8, Grandfather had died and so I was now at the complete disposal of my Stepfather who made every minute of my home life a horrific nightmare of physical and mental abuse and humiliation.
When I saw a psychiatrist about my problems in my 40s, I could see this man was close to tears as he said he had never come across such abuse, even though his surgery was on a "problem" council estate.

This is not to say however that you require such treatment to get RAD, in my study of such, I read that even putting babies in an incubator for the first two weeks away from their Mother, can bring it on, a lot depends on the nature of the child.



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16 Jan 2014, 3:06 pm

Gawer wrote:

Quote:
Aspergers Syndrome is stricly a condition due to genetics.
No it's not. It is a generally speaking a combination of genetics and environment. I say generally speaking because it is probably even possible. and it is possible for a child to develop in such a way without even having a genetic predisposition.
Quote:
You cannot develop Aspergers Syndrome after birth.
Yes you can.

To the op. You have asked a good question. I have been intending almost since I first joined WP last March and read the thread about Autism in France to make a thread which goes very deeply and comprehensively into the refrigerator theory, but have held off on this because this subject is so volatile to so many here (perhaps because it implies they may have to take a bit more responsibility in working through some of their issues which may be psychological, rather than believing they are just born with them). I am already touching on this topic on all of my threads my threads which are all about autistic encapsulation. Yes, the refrigerator mother theory is seen as outdated, and in some ways it surely is,and probably it does not apply to some lower functioning autistics in the same way it does to people with aspergers syndrome, but do not throw the baby out with the bath water. In order to begin to understand how parenting plays into autism and in some cases can even result in autism in a child, it is necessary to understand the principle of autistic encapsulation, which is essentially about how the brain biologically functions in regard to the organization of incoming data, and , from a psychological perspective, how this encapsulation plays into the organization of the brain of a child in regard to parenting.

To blame the mother for the development of autism in a child makes no sense, however, as the mother is interdependent with her environment and a product of her own parenting, so that is an old fashioned Newtonian paradigm which does not fully take into account the interdependence of all phenomena. This subject has already been touched on in this thread.



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16 Jan 2014, 6:29 pm

Hart wrote:
Hi all :D

Today I spoke with a professional about my suspicions about having Aspergers. The doctor was nice, but informed me that they were not specialists in the field of autism. They attempted to discuss the issue with me, and advised me that they felt that I don't have Aspergers, and that instead my shyness as a child, and obsessiveness, was attributed to neglectful parents.

Of course, I wasn't convinced, as there are too many additional factors to consider besides simply the shyness, and obsessive behaviour; he advised me to speak with an autism specialist, as they would be better equipped to proper diagnose me, which I plan to follow up on.

In saying that, I was curious to look in to his theory, if only to rule it out. I then came across a term known as 'Refridgerator Mothers'. From what I understand, it seems to be an out dated term for a previously thought cause for autism, where parents (mainly mothers, as this was a popular belief in the 50s apparently), were neglectful in raising their children.

As I did practically 'raise myself' as a child, I wondered whether anyone else here can relate, and what everyone's thoughts are on this.


I've heard of it and what it means.

I thought it was funny and clearly wrong at the same time.



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16 Jan 2014, 6:54 pm

This is the long shadow of Sigmund Freud.

This is similar to the idea psychiatrists and psychologists had about gay and lesbian persons in the 60s and 70s. They really believed homosexuality was "caused by" having a dominant mother and a passive father.

Well, it's probably not good having a passive parent. It's better having two functional parents. But it doesn't "cause" homosexuality.

And neither does parenting style cause autism.