For many years mother had been largely implicated for the emergence of autism. Using the term "cold mother", it was made a reference to mothers who were not emotionally available during the first year of raising the child, as a result, the child turns in upon himself/herself and he/she cannot ever achieve to develop a normal bond with his/her mother.
In families with children who have a developmental disorder, such as autism, the particularly stressful situations they experience and additionally the impact on these families should be carefully taken into account. An important role plays the relationship that is developed between parents and the child, and especially the relationship between mother and child, since the mother is the central person who deals with the daily care and the development of the child (Nazire, 1995).
However, this does not mean that maternal behavior and her attitudes are a causal factor for the occurrence of autism. The attitude of the parents is simply an aggravating factor, as the child with autism needs adherence, support and emotional security. The fact that the child does not express his/her own feelings, does not mean that he/she does not need any expression of emotions from the others toward himself/herself. And as long as he/she can sometimes react or ignore the feelings of the others, we should not forget that it is important to look for the right way to offer the feelings he/she needs. For certain, he/she needs an emotional relationship with his/her parents. What is necessary for the child is: more time and patience to trust them, that’s why he/she tests people a lot until he/she is emotionally open.
The relationship that is developed between the mother and the child with autism differs from a relationship with a child without autism, as this relationship is influenced by the behavior and the reactions of the child. A child with autism is defending against external stimuli, while he/she avoids and ignores everything that is being introduced into his/her space or into his/her environment concerning objects or people.
The autistic child is particularly disturbed by the feelings which are caused by the people around him/her, and this is why he/she has difficulty in relationships, starting with the relationship with the mother. In addition, the child has a difficulty to integrate new stimuli into the shapes of his/her sensory representations. The autistic child avoids individuals, as they are related to the emotional life, the change, the stimulation of the sensations and the emotions (Synodinou, 2001).
The autistic child abominates the mother's face and everything connected with the maternal care, and later he/she avoids every contact and interaction with whatever is alive. Andre Green, based on Freud's work, claims that this behavior of the child with autism concerns a kind of perception that is not linked to consciousness and it is a form of negative illusion. The stimuli that the child receives may be traumatic to him / her. The traumatic element can be expressed by spasms (body twitching) or avoiding eye contact while there is a connection between the instinct and the trauma experienced by the child. Moreover, in a child with autism, the instinct does not find its object and this leads to a situation of painful absence (Synodinou, 2001).
The non-recognition of the significant other by the autistic child, and in particular the non-recognition of the mother, is a defense mechanism in which the child is not recognized by mother. In addition, the non-recognition of a significant other is an attempt of identification with a mother who does not recognize. "A mother who does not reflect her child, a child who does not reflect his/her mother, an erased mirror in another erased mirror, in the interior part of another erased mirror ..." (Synodinou, 2001, p. 18). This way of perception and understanding of the mother by the child does not help in developing a healthy relationship. The behavior and the reactions of the child with autism, this long lasting defense mechanism that characterizes him/her, prevent the approach to the mother, and the emotional interaction. The child with autism defends against everything that could be considered as dangerous for his/her mental economy. By avoiding the other living existence, the child with autism avoids every living element inside him/her, while the defensive autistic attitude is an indication of the anticathexis (anti-investment) toward the somatopsychic memory trace of the contact with the mother (Synodinou, 2001).
In addition, in the cohabitation of the mother with the child with autism, there is a mutual indifference. The mother is emotionally removed from the child while the child is emotionally removed from the mother. This removal is a defense in a large mutual cathexis (investment) where, if this had ever taken place in reality, it could have drowned them. In this relationship, both seem to be far from each other, both in space and in communication (Synodinou, 2001).
The child with autism feels terrified for actions and activities that require emotional engagement as well as for the social interactions. He/she cannot develop a healthy bond with the mother as he/she avoids external stimuli, disdains persons, and avoids the contact and the interaction. The child with autism is emotionally absent and unavailable. But this should not discourage the ardency, the tenderness and the warmth from the mother's side. The child with autism needs an emotionally available and present mother despite the fact that he/she cannot manage what he/she feels. One thing is for sure: the child with autism FEELS…
Naziri, D. (1995). Father and child with special needs. In M. Kaila, N. Polemicos & G. Philippou (Ed.), Persons with Disabilities (Volume A), (pp. 156-162). Athens: Greek Letters.
Synodinou, K. (2001). Children's autism. Therapeutic approach. Athens: Kastaniotis Publications.