Leo Kanner in theories developed in 1940's suggested that children with autism had suffered delays in emotional and social development due to a lack of warmth and affection from their parents.
Kanner observed that children were exposed from "the beginning to parental coldness, obsessiveness, and a mechanical type of attention to material needs only.... They were left neatly in refrigerators which did not defrost. Their withdrawal seems to be an act of turning away from such a situation to seek comfort in solitude." In a 1960 interview, Kanner bluntly described parents of autistic children as "just happening to defrost enough to produce a child."
In opposition to Kanner, in the late 1920’s psychologist John Watson advocated that parents should never hug and rarely kiss their children. “Mother's love is a dangerous instrument, which may inflict a never healing wound…” His own son committed suicide.
Such concepts caused enormous pain for many families for decades before they were debunked. Modern research generally agrees that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has epigenetic aetiology.
Against 'Refrigerator Mothers' Project is a counter to such theories and aims to show the love and extraordinary emotional bond that forms between a mother (often on the autistic spectrum herself) and an autistic child.