I found a reference today to a movie I'd long since forgotten: Produced by Kartemquin Films, "Refrigerator Mothers" takes us back to a time when autism diagnoses reflected more on parenting styles than on neurological differences.
The movie's IMDb description, reads:
Refrigerator Mothers paints an intimate portrait of an entire generation of mothers, already laden with the challenge of raising profoundly disordered children, who lived for years under the dehumanizing shadow of professionally promoted "mother blame." Once isolated and unheard, these mothers have emerged with strong, resilient voices to share the details of their personal journeys. Through their poignant stories, Refrigerator Mothers puts a human face on what can happen when authority goes unquestioned and humanity is removed from the search for scientific answers.
I had the opportunity to see a viewing of this film at the 2002 Autism Society of America conference, surrounded by parents, professionals and other caregivers. I remember thinking how hard it was to believe that doctors and scientists would make such wild assumptions about families. My heart went out to the mothers in the film, whose lives were turned upside down - not only by their children, but by the professionals who were supposed to help.
For people new to autism, or who are interested in a historical perspective, I'd highly recommend sharing this movie - though you might also want to share a box of tissues. It's listed on Netflix, but it's also available online for free at: http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/refrigerator_mothers/
An aside: I marvel each day at the warmth, compassion, and endless patience of our parents and families. If you ask me, it's obvious Dr. Bettelheim never met any PACTT parents, or his theory quickly would have been disproven! - Paula