Refrigerator Mothers

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Refrigerator Mothers
Refrigerator Mothers Poster.jpg
Directed byDavid E. Simpson
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducersDavid E. Simpson, J.J. Hanley & Gordon Quinn
Running time60 minutes
Original release
  • 2003 (2003)

Refrigerator Mothers is a 2003 television documentary film by Kartemquin Films for PBS's P.O.V. series. The film paints an intimate portrait of an entire generation of American mothers whose children were diagnosed with autism. Labeled 'refrigerator mothers' in the 1950s and 1960s by the medical establishment for their supposedly frigid and detached mothering, these women "have emerged with strong, resilient voices to share the details of their personal journeys."[1]

Refrigerator Mothers was awarded First Prize at the 2002 National Council of Family Relations Media Awards. The film won Best of Show at the 2002 Indiana Film Festival as well as named as an Official Selection to numerous international film festivals.[2]

Refrigerator Mothers was featured in a January 2010 issue of Psychology Today that focused on the racial and class stereotyping of autism.[3]


  1. ^ Refrigerator Mothers :: Kartemquin Films
  2. ^ Icarus Films Retrieved 25 Jan. 2011.
  3. ^ "Bias, Bettelheim and Autism: Is History Repeating Itself?". Soraya, Lynne. Psychology Today. 10 Jan. 2010. Retrieved 25 Jan. 2011.

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