After Jenny McCarthy appeared on Oprah on Tuesday September 18th, 2007 with Holly Robinson-Peete sharing how she has cured her son of Autism I decided to go out and read her new book Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism.
This book chronicles Jenny's story.. or rather, Evan's Story, and journey through the nightmare called Autism. Louder Than Words begins with a preface and an introduction written by two of Jenny's doctors singing her praises before we get to read about Evan's tale. Evan's journey begins with Jenny finding her son seizing in his crib. Her son appears to have a seizure disorder of some kind and the doctor's misdiagnose him as Epileptic. Jenny believes based on her "mommy instinct" that something else is going on and to find out what it is. After a series of "meeting the right person at the right time" she eventually gets to a neurologist who gives her son the Autism diagnosis. Jenny's message throughout the book talks about listening to your inner voice and trusting your mommy instinct.
Jenny talks about how there is no "Welcome to Autism" brochure and how she has taken that on herself to be a voice. She concludes her book with a 5 page section called the "What to do Pamphlet". If you just want to read her stance on Autism and her advice for parents of children with Autism then you can skip the whole book and read just the last 5 pages. You'll be spared her gripping story and her gratuitous use of the "F" word, and you just might thank me for it.
If you do want to read from start to finish about Jenny McCarthy and how she has "cured" her son of Autism (maybe just maybe.. if she did it, then you can do it too) then Louder Than Words is a book for you. I read it start to finish in about 3 hours. Despite the fact that she curses a lot, her message is one of hope and healing. In fact, many of the experiences she spoke about with Evan were ones that I could very much relate to myself being a parent of a child with Autism. She speaks very candidly about what its like to watch other parents and "typical children" and how you lose friends, or push friends away. And she talks about the effect that Autism had on her marriage. Families with Autism have a very high divorce rate - almost 80% of marriages with a child with Autism end in divorce.
But just how did she cure her son's Autism when Autism has no known cure and no one knows the exact cause of Autism?
Warning! Warning! Warning! Jenny asserts that there IS a link between vaccines and Autism and that her son's autism was caused by it. The autism/vaccine debate is a subject that the autism and medical communities remains divided on and Jenny's stance is a controversial one.
In her book, Jenny McCarthy shares everything she did with Evan and how she "got a degree from the University of Google" because she had to do so much research on her own. Jenny claims that her son's journey toward recovery truly began when she found on a website the words "Autism is Reversible". She then set forward on a path to 'curing' her son's autism.
She did this through bio-medical practices including the GFCF (gluten free casein free) diet, B12 injections, supplements and the assistance of a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) doctor. Evan also received ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and intensive speech therapy simultaneous with Jenny trying biomedical approaches but the majority of this book focuses much more on the biomedical aspect.
As a parent of a child with Autism myself, I really feel that her book shouldn't be considered a handbook or a bible for the Autism community (though I feel she asserts otherwise). Just in my small little corner of my local Autism community I know people who have had great success with biomedical treatments and the GFCF diet and others who have spent thousands of dollars pursuing these costly treatments that were unsuccessful, still others who believe that these practices are just a way for rich doctors to drain money out of desperate parents. Jenny acknowledges the reality that raising a child with Autism is expensive and the high costs of therapies and treatments. She can acknowledge how costly it is, but that doesn't minimize the obvious fact that she had access to resources that your everyday family of a child on the Autism spectrum simply does not. Still, her message is a good one and I commend her (and other celebrities) that are making their way out of the woodwork - Holly Robinson Peete, Toni Braxton, to name a few who have come out in the past year or so as having children on the Autism spectrum. We'll only start to hear more and more people affected as the numbers rise. (The national rate of autism is 1 in 150 children and as many as 1 in 94 boys. )
Jenny considers her son Evan to be 'in recovery' essentially cured of Autism. He still remains on the special diet and receives therapies to cover any 'setbacks' he may have. If only everyone's story had such a happy 'ending' as Evan. Every case of Autism is unique so what worked for Evan and Jenny may or may not work for you. If you are a parent of a child with Autism this book Louder Than Words has a healing message full of hope. I found it a refreshing change from the sanitized messages (Autism speaks, anyone?) that I've become used to encountering. While I may not totally agree with Jenny's stance I give her a thumbs up for daring to share her story with a very loud voice.
Tune in for more from Jenny McCarthy on Autism
-9/21/07 on 20/20
-PEOPLE MAGAZINE 9/21/07 edition
09/24/07 Good Morning America
09/25/07 The View
09/26/07 Larry King
Jenny is now the spokeswoman for the autism organization -TACA Now - Talk about Curing Autism Now
Oprah's Autism Support Board
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