Friday, November 9, 2007

Jenny McCarthy has given me a "Timeline to Fix" my kid

Jenny, girl, you're a Playboy Bunny past your prime, an author, a comedienne, a mother. But you're no expert, despite your "PhD in Google."

I know you mean well. I know your intention is to wake up the world to the autism epidemic (and yes, it IS an epidemic). I know you want to send the message to moms with kids who have autism that they need to shake themselves out of denial because denial wastes time. But what you state as encouragement sticks a knife into the heart of every mother who has DONE all the stuff you've done (except having them blessed by Mormons) and still, their kid is not "fixed."

Honey Bunny, despite all my best efforts, my kid's not completely "fixed" and neither is yours. You have to watch what language you're using, because you can easily crush a mom's hope when all she does is just not "enough." Your son is young, and you have many more years ahead of you. There's so much more than you can even imagine. Puberty hits our sweet little "Indigo Children" (whatever that is) just the same as other kids. Are you prepared for that?

You had my ex-husband's girlfriend convinced that she could come, in a blaze of glory, and "fix" my kid. To me, that felt like an accusation that for ten years I did nothing. Why does she think my ex was so "neglected" in our marriage?

Jenny Dear, you said on the Oprah show that the clock was ticking, and that age 11 is some kind of crucial deadline and that all hope is lost after that. "Girlfriend The Savior" soon found out that there are waiting lists to see doctors, and was (HELLO, welcome to my world!) frustrated that they didn't UNDERSTAND the crucial "timeline" we're dealing with. She also found out that you can carefully and strictly "do" the diet and supplements and still not see a "fixed kid." She also realized, in going over the lists of what you and your biomedical doctors say causes autism, HER kids should be affected by this crappy disorder, not mine. Don't misunderstand me: I no more want her sweet boys to be autistic any more than I want mine to be. I'm just saying it's not all that cut-and-dried. This disorder is UNFAIR, still mysterious, and NOT YET CURABLE, and you're contributing to the confusion.

The age of 11 does not hit like a ticking time bomb. Our kids CAN and DO continue to improve all their lives. How dare you declare doom on my child at age 11!

Jenny, my son IS much better off than he was at diagnosis. Either because of -- or despite -- all the best efforts, he can have rudimentary conversations and tell us what he wants and needs. He can to some extent hang out with the other kids and be tolerated, sometimes even welcomed. But "fixed" would mean that, like any other 10-year-old, he'd be talking baseball or even playing baseball or soccer or Monopoly or a million other things that kids do.

Either because of or despite all the best efforts, my son wants hugs and kisses now, instead of pushing away. How gratifying for me and his other loved ones! But if he was "fixed" he would be getting embarrassed like any 10-year-old does when his mom wants a kiss before he gets on the bus. Heck, for that matter, he'd be walking or biking to school from my house, instead of being picked up by the "short bus."

I'm happy that your book is bringing attention to autism. It should be declared a national emergency! But your book also puts it all back into the laps of the already exhausted, unjustly blamed, and discouraged moms, just the way the insane and unqualified Dr. Bettelheim did with his idiotic 'Refrigerator Mother' theory in the '80s. In doing so, Dr. B claimed the right to take a generation of children away from their mothers and subjected those mothers to a lifetime of undeserved guilt. What effect will your words, "you have a timeline to fix your kids" have on THIS generation of mothers?


Joseph said...

Many of Kanner's "success stories" were obviously autistic at age 11. In fact, it was in their mid to late teens when they spent effort to try to fit themselves, and this was one of the things Kanner found was significant for a good outcome.

This was way before kids were diagnosed at 2 and turned out not to be autistic some years later. Kanner's kids came to him when they were considerably older than 2, and were obviously autistic.

I do take issue with your characterization of autism as some sort of emergency. I not only don't see the evidence to warrant this, but I've demonstrated this is not the case.

Joan said...

Thank you! You said what I couldn't find the words to say. There was just something about seeing and hearing Jenny McCarthy that frustrated me, and that was it.

I felt as if anyone who knew me and saw her thought that I must not be doing everything because my 12 year old is "still autistic". is and always will be.

As if I don't think EVERY DAY what am I not doing...what I should be doing...what do I need to stop doing...

That's all...thx

lizziehoop said...

Just found your blog (linked from Read just this one entry and plan to go back and read the others and bookmark you too. I am constantly being told that Jenny McCarthy cured her kid so why haven't I done the same - he is almost 10 you know and time is running out. Grrr! Every time I see her on that weight loss commercial I want to pitch the remote at the stupid tv. Gee, it must be nice to have all that time on your hands that you can cure a little boy and still have time to write books and do commercials and talk shows and date odd comedians and whatever else she does.

I fight for my son every day but I have never had the illusion that I could cure his autism - not once. I like him the way he is and have never had the idea to try to mold him or my daughter into something that society wants.

My favourite quote in the world right now is "Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded." - Jesse Lair

Thanks for making me feel better!

Georga said...

Thank you!!

A friend sent this to me after I had an article published on Associated Press about the cause & cure debates that seem to be dividing the autism community.

Jenny McCarthy has done nothing to help that. Because people seem to listen to celebs who decide to become a mouth piece for whatever cause, they think that they know everything there is to know about that cause. I am not sure if that helps or harms the causes.

Michelle said...

We found your blog from the story, too. Jenny McCarthy's book has been driving me wild since she did the talk show circuit. I'm glad autism is getting the press, but I don't need people calling me to say if I change my daughter's diet, she'll be 'cured'. That undoes all the work we've done trying to get people to understand how she thinks, and why she behaves as she does. Our daughter just turned 13, so I guess there's no hope for her anyway?! HA! I think my biggest failing as a parent would be to believe that.

I think your blog is so well written! You inspired me to post about it as well - I hope you'll visit. I did link back to you, too. We are in WI, as well.

Moi ;) said...

Thank you for putting this so well!!!
I hope you don't mind if I link to your post (and to your blog)!

I must add that just because a kid gets embarrassed when Mom hugs him doesn't mean he's cured, either. BTDT! Oh, and puberty for our kids comes early a lot of the time. Can we be at her house to film? ;)

Ang said...

I am a mother of a 7 y/o with autism, who gets annoyed by JM, too. How ANY other parent of a child with autism can get on a high horse, point their finger and say "you're not doing your best" is beyond me. What we cope with day to day would make most parents crumble.

Anyway, I just wanted to say "thank you" for your blog, and for putting into words what I have failed to do. I've had many discussions recently about the word "cure" and what that means in relation to autism. IMO, my son will never be "cured" but will continue to improve day by day.

thanks again!!

Lisa Jo Rudy said...

Julie - I'm thrilled that so many people are finding you through A voice of reason is rare indeed.


Lisa Rudy

~Miss Nelson said...

WOW! I totally agree with your comments. I will add you to my blog roll and be back.

mcewen said...

I hear you dearie!

Wanda Lynne Young said...

I agree with your point of view and will add your blog to my list of faves. Visit me here:
I'm interested to get your opinion on Jenny's use of the word "cure" which I find very misleading!