Refrigerator Mothers panel

JJ Hanley, producer of Refrigerator Mothers, shared the stage with pioneer mothers who raised their autistic children during the era of “mother blame” of the 50s and 60s during the Autism Society of America’s (ASA) national conference in Phoenix, AZ this week. The conference ran from July 11th - 14th.

The leader of the panel, titled "Mothers from the Freudian/Psychoanalytic Era Respond to the Documentary Refrigerator Mothers", was Ruth Sullivan, first elected president of the ASA in the 1960s, founder of the Autism Services Center of West Virginia and a long-time advocate for the rights and advancement of autistic people. Eustacia Cutler, mother of Temple Grandin and author of AThorn in My Pocket, read excerpts from her account of her experience with the psychiatric profession while raising her daughter, who is a well-known autistic person and a very accomplished professional. Mary Flanagan, long-time advocate and crusader for the rights of autistic people in New York and one of the subjects of the documentary spoke of the damage that Freudian era did to families. The four mothers led the panel discussion, before a full house of parents and professionals.