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 bestselling-on-Amazon.com 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.
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.