Jenny, We Hardly Knew Ye

For continued proof that many still believe the theory that vaccines (such as the MMR) or something in vaccines (such as the mercury-based preservative thimerasol) causes autism, one need look no farther than the newstand at one’s supermarket. On the cover of People last week; on Oprah; on 20/20, Good Morning America, The View, and Larry King Live; appearing in October at a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) conference near you (if you live near Garden Grove, California), and as close as your nearest booksource in the form of her book, Louder than Words, has been Jenny McCarthy, model, comedien, actress, 1994 Playboy Playmate, author, and (as many now know as of last week), autism mother.

In her September 18th Oprah appearance with Holly Robinson Peete, McCarthy said regarding vaccines:

Jenny says she believes that childhood vaccinations may play a part. “What number will it take for people just to start listening to what the mothers of children who have seen autism have been saying for years, which is, ‘We vaccinated our baby and something happened.”

Jenny says even before Evan received his vaccines, she tried to talk to her pediatrician about it. “Right before his MMR shot, I said to the doctor, ‘I have a very bad feeling about this shot. This is the autism shot, isn’t it?’ And he said, ‘No, that is ridiculous. It is a mother’s desperate attempt to blame something,’ and he swore at me, and then the nurse gave [Evan] the shot,” she says. “And I remember going, ‘Oh, God, I hope he’s right.’ And soon thereafter—boom—the soul’s gone from his eyes.”

Despite her belief, Jenny says she is not against vaccines. “I am all for them, but there needs to be a safer vaccine schedule. There needs to be something done. The fact that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] acts as if these vaccines are one size fits all is just crazy to me,” she says. “People need to start listening to what the moms have been saying.”

It does not exactly sound as if McCarthy is (to quote her California-speak) “all for” vaccines if she is calling the MMR the “autism shot.”

The “recovery” of McCarthy’s son is not the real item of interest here. Everything that McCarthy says about her son’s alleged “autism recovery” is cast in terms, in language, in phrases familar to anyone who has been following developments in biomedical treatments for autism—in alternative therapies for autism—over the past decade plus. Son-Rise, DAN!, Thoughtful House: All of these speak in a language of curing and healing, of salvation as it were from the devastating, marriage-wrecking, life’s tragedy trainwreck and tsunami of autism, and McCarthy (Jenny, not Charley) ventriloquizes it all. The recovery being staged here is that of a blonde potty-mouthed and potty-sitting and what-goes-into-the-potty–eating (if you include menstrual blood and vomit) Playboy Playmate, who is transformed into a biomedical treatment expert, desperate, worred, harried, loving, warrior autism mother (with a Ph.D., Google-granted). Like countless other Americans, McCarthy has transformed herself from breast-baring to breast-beating-at-the-thought-of-my-poor-child-ravished-by-autism. She is no longer body-painting bimbo, but a baby-blue-clad, hair-bobbed-as-properly-as-any-Wall-Street-baby-boomer-business-women-executive-type. And she has done this by performing a most American activity, by refashioning her very self (without silicone) in a kind of extreme makeover.

Jenny, we hardly knew ye!

Contrary to what you might think, I am with McCarthy on this one. I too have found the experience of raising my autistic son not simply transforming, but self-transforming. Thanks to Charlie, I have become a better person, less selfish and more selfless (I hope), more aware of ways of thinking and being that were before foreign. I am become a traveler in a world lit bright thanks to the colors of the autism spectrum. But one difference between McCarthy and me is that I do not think recovery—Charlie’s or my own—as a goal; I rather think, in regard to autism, that recovery is not the point. Charlie was born with autism and it informs his thinking and his being; with each passing day, he can communicate better, do more, be more at ease in this world that is not always so at home with him. Whatever I have had to recover from, taking care of Charlie day in and day out, in exhausting moments, in messy moments, in moments when I wanted just to sleep on the floor as he hummed and kicked and wrestled his blankets as he tried to sleep—life with Charlie has helped me to become better and to be better. There is no reason to cure/heal/detox “the autism” out of him; there is plenty of reason to teach Charlie, and to provide him with the education and learning that he needs and thrives on.

In light of McCarthy’s earlier and well-promoted career exploits, perhaps it makes a certain amount of poetic justice that she is a proponent of DAN! and the biomedical type treatments promoted by DAN!. Of those treatments, the experimental treatment of chelation—-in which a person is given powerful drugs or other substances to detoxify their body of heavy metals by excreting the toxic materials through (for instance) the bowels—has gained much notoriety. If one believes that chelation can help an autistic child—might even “cure” an autistic child from autism—it must seem quite fitting that this curing process would occur by the expulsion via defecation, or rather (as pointed out to me by Mr. Deniz Yeter), via urination, of those heavy metals from the body; by the elimination of some unpleasant and damaging waste products “out the back end.” If one equates the presence of the toxic materials in a child’s system with a child’s being autistic, how fitting that chelation involves the expulsion of that nasty polluting matter: In this view, autism is all kaka (not an intentionally scatological reference, but a term from the ancient Greek for “bad things”).

As for how to do such an act—to eliminate the toxic mess—one hopes that a child might do this in the appropriate place, in the bathroom, in the toilet, assuming that he or she is toilet-trained. For a model of what is involved in such an activity, one need look no farther than a shot of McCarthy herself, minus undergarments or other below-the-belt clothing, as she smiles for the camera in an ad for Candies shoes, in something of detox mode herself. In this photo, McCarthy appears to be pleasingly engaged in an activity that can be fraught with tears and terror for many of our children; she seems the perfect model of this most important self-help skill.

After all, you miss, you’ve made a mess.

It is a photo that speaks a lot louder than words.

Share This Post:
    • julie

      I was only able to see parts of the larry King show but it seems each time she speaks she is getting less diplomatic and her true colors are coming out in saying that her does not have autism at all anymore on Larry King from saying that he will always have some of it on Oprah. I wonder what she truely believes?

    • Linda

      You captured it perfectly. I feel so sorry for young parents newly diagnosed.

      Parenthood is a transformation in and of itself.

    • dkmnow

      Would this be the right time to email her a thousand copies of Jim Sinclair’s Don’t Mourn For Us?

      (Ain’t I a stinker?)


    • dkmnow

      Er, let’s try that linkything again:

    • Tanya

      So she had a really bad feeling, then doctor swore at her, yet she let them vaccinate her child? She actually let a doctor verbally assault her, and let them continue on with the vaccination? Nice, mom.

    • mommy~dearest

      Linda: my sentiments exactly. I just posted my review of her book.

    • long day’s journey into acceptance

      Anyone seem to notice how the soul is gone from Jenny’s eyes?

    • AJ

      Excellent, well-thought out post, Kristina.

    • amy

      :) Maybe a somewhat more autistic perspective would help. Kristina, it doesn’t matter. Jenny McCarthy is not going to undo legit research and treatment. I am sure the people who deal with large-scale funding, and who have to counter this sort of thing, are on it, though they may be able to use a sober, well-tempered hand in the writing and presentation — from doctors and autism researchers.

      She’s no Larry Summers, in other words. And as you’ve pointed out yourself, the people who want to believe complete garbage about autism will continue to believe it, for their own reasons. They’re really not interested in education.

      It could be much worse. She might have introduced some sort of Coveyesque 7 Habits of Recovering Autists, which would be immensely popular. I’m surprised no one’s done it yet.

      Anyway. You know what you and your family are doing; others will take what they can and want to from it. Don’t worry about the Jenny McCarthys of the world. In the end they’ve got little to do with you and your family.

      The chelation thing is mad and ought to be illegal, not because it’s ineffectual, but because it’s the biochemical equivalent of leeching. In the lab it’s pretty nifty stuff, but internally, ah, no.

    • resilientmom

      Your comedic timing is perfection. I am still reeling from the Candies toilet image.
      Perhaps the most revealing piece of the Larry King interview is that Jenny clearly pronounced SHE WILL NEVER HAVE CHILDREN AGAIN…..but if she did, she would NEVER vaccinate them.
      Did she mention genetics at all? No, I didn’t think so!

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      It’s been interesting to watch the autism comedy unrolling!

    • Judith Ursitti

      I think I’m going to send the photo link to every person who sends me an e-mail or calls me quoting the brilliant, scientific mind of JM. I’ve been diplomatic to date, but I’m starting to tire.

      I’m a dreamer. A curebie. I do hope that we can find effective treatments and identify the cause(s) of autism very soon. I love my Jack so much, but he struggles. I want to help him more than I’m able to now. For me, additional help will come with some quality research, not the fecal material that’s being thrown around on the MSM this week…

      Wow .. can’t believe I said that. I feel better already. :)

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      Very glad to know that—-Charlie certainly struggles, more than usually today, but we get through it. I’ve tried (tried) to learn to step back and learn from him and let go of some worries (“some”….).

    • Drew

      Wow! There’s an awful lot of hating happeining on the boards here. Seems counter productive to me.

      Whether you agree with any or all of Jennie’s views on Autism, she has brought more attention and raised more awareness for the cause than arguably anyone in recent memory. For all of us dealing with this on a daily basis, attention is good…; at best it attracts money and research, and at worst it gives the teachers and peers and neighbors and even the pediatricians a little bit of insight into what we’re all dealing with on a daily basis.

      While you may disagree with her views on vaccines or the issue of recovery, nothing she’s saying is irresponsible. She’s not arguing against vaccinations… she’s arguing for safer vaccinations.

      I’ve never understood why high profile celebrities like Travolta, Stallone and De Niro have refused to speak publicly about their autistic children. While I respect their right to privacy, there is nothing shameful about having an autistic child, and they are capable of raising so much awareness and money for the cause by speaking out.

      I give Jennie McCarthy a lot of credit for being so public and attempting to help others, and subjecting herself to the kinds of criticisms that some on this board have engaged in.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      One question that some might have is, what is the message about autism in the “awareness” being promoted. Perhaps saying that getting rid of some one thing (yeast, for instance) is somewhat misleading; due to the attention given to McCarthy, it might be hoped that she might be the most responsible as to the information she provides.

    • julie

      I acn not agree that there is no harm n her talking about issues related to autism that have no basis in fact. Everytime one of my extended family members or friend sees a celebrity or talk show that talks about autism and cure or vaccines causing it I have to field calls for days explaining and reexplaining that there is no proof that vaccines acuse autism and that I do not believe that these therapies “cure” it and that no one has been able to prove scientifically that the do. Jennys son improved and is now on the high functioning end of the spectrum, I do not find this to be odd but how do we or she know that he would not have made this same progress as my daughter did without the biomed treatments since he is also recieving traditional therapy. I have to disagree that this can be harmful when she speaks as though she is an expert and she is no more or less an expert than any other parent with a child on the spectrum yet her opinion is given much more weight.

    • Drew

      There are many messages being communicated in the awareness that is raised every time autism is discussed in the mainstream media….beginning with how pervasive it’s become.

      I guess it’s all a matter of perspective, but we receive the same calls from well-intended friends and relatives, and I’m less bothered by having to explain the realities of our situation than I am encouraged by their increasing interest and understanding of our son and his abilities and capabilites.

      Amongst the big picture messages that I take from her appearances are the need to be aware of signs and symptoms at an early age, the importance of early intervention, that diagnosis are increasing at an alarming rate, that pediatrician’s are not as up-to-speed on autism as they should be, and that there are a variety of therapies and interventions available and that improvement (even recovery) is possible.

      What’s wrong with any of that?

    • mommy~dearest

      I tend to agree with julie.

      It’s not that the calls are harmful, per se, but they are extremely annoying. Add to that the feeling of inadequacy as a parent when you are having to explain your stance, why you’re doing these things, but not those, and the overally defending of your decisions.

      It’s easier in any situation, to make suggestions from the outside. It’s easy to jump to conclusions. I’ve had “curebies” suggest that my decisions aren’t in my child’s best interest, and why don’t I want to do something that will cure him. It has left me wondering on a few occasions if I really am doing all that I can.

      It really does wear on the parenting self esteem.

      As far as Autism awareness, yes, exposure is good. Any exposure. But I would hope that it’s used as just that…awareness…and parents would not just take a celebrity’s word for it, and actually research the options out there. What is best for one family is not necessarily what is best for another.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      “the need to be aware of signs and symptoms at an early age, the importance of early intervention, that diagnosis are increasing at an alarming rate, that pediatrician’s are not as up-to-speed on autism as they should be, and that there are a variety of therapies and interventions available and that improvement (even recovery) is possible.”

      Yes, all good to refer to, and all often pointed out by many autism organizations and advovates; more autistic advocates are critiquing the notion of “recovery.”

    • Marcie

      >Would this be the right time to email her a >thousand copies of Jim Sinclair’s Don’t Mourn >For Us?

      Better to send them to Oprah. Though I wouldn’t even think about doing that without Jim’s permission (xe says that xe doesn’t want to be known for *only* that essay).

    • Pingback: Highly Involved Autism Parenting, Jenny/Ozzy Style()

    • Pingback: This Week’s Top Posts()

    • peony

      I also tend to agree with Julie too on this issue. My parents just saw Jenny on Larry King and because of this I spent hours on the phone explaining to my Mom why I did not try all the therapies that Jenny and the DAN! doctor suggested. Like Mommy~Dearest said : it was not harmful but calls like these can be extremely annoying.

    • Pingback: Not a Sacrifice: The Autism Mother Makeover()

    • BB

      Here here Drew! I think at this point anyone who can raise awareness will help. Many times I see that even though things are brought up that are termed “bad”, they end up being for the overall “good”. I see this turning out the same way.

    • Pingback: After Jenny, With Charlie, and Lots to Hope For()

    • Pingback: The New McCarthyism()

    • Pingback: The Tide is High: Jenny McCarthy Riding on a Wave of Autism Awareness()

    • Pingback: Thimerasol Exposure Declines, Autism Rates Increase()

    • Pingback: All They Really Need to Know They Learned at Google U()

    • Pingback: Don’t Got Milk?()

    • Pingback: Jenny, We Hardly Knew Ye (2)()

    • Pingback: The Rallying of the Green()

    • Pingback: More Thoughts on Recovery After an Interview()

    • Pingback: Back to the Yeast()

    • donald savitz

      Ms.Chew; Do I understand what that what you said in post above isthat Charlie born with autism. Does that mean he was diagnosed with autism before he had his shots.If that is the case I think you would be looking for something in the environment that caused his autism. Something like the love canal, dioxn, or transformer oil with p.c.b.s maa have gotten into the water table.

    • mommy~dearest


    • donald savitz

      I don”t know if may havejust mis spoke, I heard the same thing on the Imus show in 00 or o1. That this one gentleman said the same thing that his son was diagnosed before he had gotten the shots. No one followed up on how they could know at that age of about three weeks.

    • Pingback: Beyond Anecdotal Evidence: Clinical Trial of the GFCF Diet()

    • Pingback: The Cause of the Causecast()

    • Candi

      In your crusade against a mother that faced traumatizing events, looked beyond the advice of those who injected her son with garbage in the first place. You fail to acknowledge that the epidemic of autism is ever increasing and the medical community can offer nothing more than a treatment once a child is diagnosed. There are two reasons for their denial of vaccines causing autism. One is, “they” are the cause, and two “they” are making a lot of money in selling treatments. Vaccines are big business all by themselves, add to that causing conditions and more doctors visits, pharmaceutical companies are racking in the dough. Donald Rumsfeld was once on the board of Gleland Sciences… is it a coincidence that Gleland are behind “Tamaflu”? Tamaflu is causing children in China to run into on coming traffic, to jump from skyscraper windows, and a number of other tragic manners in which they have killed themselves. Tamaflu is a neurotoxin. It, like other vaccines are deliberately designed to do many things, “population control” is one, generate money for those invested, dumb down our children, one day there will not be people to ask questions like Ms. McCarthy, save those that were wise enough to catch on to what is happening and did not vaccinate their children. Too bad that if they do decide to stand up and say something about it, the majority of their listening audience will be brain damaged, not enough to be diagnosed, just enough to prevent them from seeing what is happening to them. There is something very sinister going on in this country and it doesn’t end with our government’s destruction of our constitution or bringing us ever so near WWIII. Wake up!!!

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      There’s no epidemic of autism, though it feels like that. Scientific studies continue to refute a vaccine-autism link. Very best—-

    • James, MD

      Candi, you are a nut and an alarmist and obviously don’t know anything about the vaccination industry. Do you know why Flu vaccines have been in short supply over the past several years? It is because nuts like you sue them out of business. Govt. agencies are now having to start producing these vaccines because private industry has been sued out of the business. There is no profit in producing vaccines because of all the ridiculous litigation. So instead, thousands of people die yearly from Influenza related illness. Just so you can have a fun conspiracy to play with. And Kristina is correct, there is no epidemic. The sensitivity and detection for autism is increasing, not the prevalence of the disease. Not that I would expect you to understand what those words even mean. So sad. This is what happens when our education system fails our children and little idiots grow up to be big idiots.

    • Pingback: One of 2008’s Top Unfounded Health Scares()

    • Norby

      Is Ms. McCarthy still the spokesperson for autism? Oh Lord have Mercy, is this a joke?

    • Robert Barringer

      I’ve been insinuated as autistic before … in school , I was told about a Social Security check ; ” going along like ants ” . I’ve been to the hospital , and I got the check . I keep on thinking thats what autism is … you told them you would ” go along like ants ” . I collect Playboy magazines which is where I learned the name Jenny McCarthy . In case that is autism ; I’d like to proceed , to my personal thing of school . Ever heard of the music group ” Heart ” ? The song Magic Man , with ” magic hands ” ? With a lady psychiatrist , I’d like to study feminine masturbation , so I too can have these ” magic hands ” , that ” Heart ” sings about , on the radio . I am a boy … I think it would be vital , in Evolution … that I learn about these ” magic hands ” .

    • Jo

      You are one dumb sick person for doubting Jenny !

      • Get a life Chew

        She is simply green with envy. Keep drugging your kid Dr. Chew while many parents enjoy recovery. Fool.

    • jealous Chew

      Here we see the extreme jealousy and nastiness that is Chew. Let’s just look at two questions:

      1. Would you rather have a recovered Evan or Chew’s kid? Easy answer there.

      2. Would you rather look like McCarthy or Chew?

      Chew’s jealousy is so apparent and never ending it is laughable.

    • brenda bailey

      It’s fine to disagree with someone and to discredit their argument if it is applicable, but to attack a woman’s character based on your perceptions of her ie “breast-baring-to-breast-beating…no longer-body-painting-bmbo, but a baby blue clad, hair-bobbed-as-properly-as any-Wall-Street-baby-boomer….etc.” is a straw man and a poor argument. You actually do disservice to your argument by attacking on your perceptions of one’s moral character, and as a woman attacking another woman you make yourself sound like Ann Coulter or Sarah Palin. Of course you may align yourself with them, I don’t know. Additionally, you don’t do yourself any favors by holding up “Wall Street Executives” as shining beacons of morality. Perhaps someday, educated people such as yourself (a PhD no less) will disconnect from the need to attack at such a base level and simply state your argument and your facts. And by the way- I believe in supporting other moms that are going through some of the same things that I am, even if they may need some re-education.

    • http://n/a jamie

      Has anybody here tried a gluten free/ casein free diet and not had it work for their child?
      I hear more defensiveness than reality here.

      “Grains, Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword” is a very interesting thesis put out by Loren Cordain of University of Colorado Fort Collins. Unless we have a bunch or Christian Right Wingers here who refuse to believe in science, we should all take a look at what she’s saying.

      L. Cordain, “Although, cereal grain consumption may appear to be historically remote, it is biologically recent; consequently the human immune, digestive and endocrine systems have not yet fully adapted to a food group which provides 56% of humanity’s food energy and 50% of its protein.” Try schizophrenia on for size. Why not autism?

      We eat approximately 17 food items out of hundreds of thousands of things we used to eat. It you are a blonde, blue-eyed WASP, you have not been “culled”–your biological ancestors have not been eating wheat for even a couple of thousand years. You were still up on the mountains herding sheep and eating leaves. Grain production happened in the fertile crescents and those people are brown/brown-eyed.

      It is very likely that the opiates in wheat cause problems for caucasians (Ireland, e.g. highest rate of celiac disease on planet). Dairy is problematic also.

      Hunter gatherer man was in much better shape than pastoral man–ask any paleontologist.

    • Yvonne

      Im sorry I have to agree with Jenny Mc Carthy on this on. If any of you have children with Autism then you would understand. Jenny is not a bad mom because she allowed the Dr.s to give her son the shots because they make you feel bad and tell you that they need them and if you don’t give it to them they will be behind with their shots. My son who was 9 months at the time went for a Dr. visit. The dr. gave him 4 shots at a time and I told them no I didnt want him to have that many but they said he was behind on his shots and if I would give him so many and come back he would be even more behind and they were not going to allow that. So they gave him 4 on one led and 4 on the other and after that my baby was different. He was in his own little world and his speech stopped. I never heard momma again. Now he is 4 years old and my baby still can’t talk. I wish I had the joy parents have to hear their kids speak to them and call for them but I don’t. So quit hating on Jenny because I feel her pain and I would like to warn other parents about shots also. So do not stop her from informing parents they need to know this.

    • Norby


    • Norby

      Interestingly, I think Jenny’s face filler injections and silicone implants are making her think she’s the mum of an autistic young lad

    • Norby

      Any exposure is good for autism? So if I become a famous actor next year and I go around telling people I’m autistic, when I’m really not, and that I cured myself by eating gluten free diets and having my wife spank me once in awhile, that’s okay? So long as it brings awareness to autism? What kind of awareness will we settle for these days? What does that say about our efforts without an obvious fake representing autism? Must we rely on celebrity status to further the autism agenda or will we rely on the truth and reality of our lives with autistic children? It’s time the other sides of autism are shown….the severe sides….the sides seldom seen, as you see on you tube when you punch in autism and seizures or self-injury. There’s a lot of families out there who are dealing with raw autism, andn been doing it for years…not five, and have now appointed themselves experts on the subject….

    • Greg

      Jennie is an idiot.

      Autism has never been reliably linked to vaccinations, however, research is now pointing in the direction of drug use during the first trimester of pregnancy. No wonder so many celebrities have autistic kids, and why they don’t want to talk about it.