Cold parenting explanation of autism

Explanations of autism: cold parenting

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Basic overview

Originally proposed by KANNER in 1943 who said it may be an innate disorder in the child made worse by a cold, unresponsive mother or 'refrigerator mother.'

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Cold parenting - BETTLEHEIM

BETTLEHEIM supported this idea, and he devised a treatment which consisted of a programme of warm acceptance and reinforcement, which helped some autistic children. According to BETTLEHEIM, children develop a sense of autonomy which is when they feel their actions make a difference, and they have an effect on the environment, and he though this lacked in autistic children.

Bettleheim believed this sense of autonomy was central to developing their personality and self. According to Bettleheim, a child may fail to develop this autonomy because:
o The child feels unwanted that leads to ...
o The child limiting behaviour to his/her own world, which leads to ...
o Impaired social interactions and a diagnosis of autism

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Evaluation of cold parenting

o Critics say bettleheim blames parents, but he disagrees - the disorder is due to poor parent-child interactions, not poor parenting. Innate temperamental differences between parent and child may be the cause

o It is recognised that Bettleheim has some success with the treatment provided for autism at his school

o Some say that there is no REAL evidence that cold parenting causes autism (roazen 1992) and to suggest so is hurtful to parents, as the majority are loving, caring and sensitive.

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