The McCarthyism of Autism

30 May

Love her or hate her, Jenny McCarthy dominates the the autism-related media.

With her son Evan’s diagnosis of autism, she began her own research that led her to believe that his autism was caused by the MMR vaccination and she set out to cure him of his autism. Her claim was that Evan was cured through diet (specifically Gluten Free) and chelations, a controversial method of removing metals from his body. She has also claimed that Evan is an “indigo child.”  Most recently, McCarthy has now said that Evan was misdiagnosed and never had autism. It is now widely speculated that what Evan does “have” is Landau-Kleffner Syndrome. A condition for which there is no cure.

I don’t have a problem with McCarthy’s belief in the danger of vaccinations, although I do not endorse it either. She is entitled to her belief about that. I don’t deny her her passion because she is a mother as well and loves her son and wants the  best for him. I don’t begrudge her for adopting the GF diet that did not work for my child or the chelation therapy. I understand that, for her, an autism diagnosis was devastating and extremely painful in ways that it was simply not for me. While I don’t agree with much she has said, I haven’t had much bad to think or say about her.

Until now. See, McCarthy claims that although her son does not have autism, she still stands by the “community.” That is, those of us with children who were correctly diagnosed. In her efforts to “stand by us,” she has decided to use her waning celebrity.

Jenny McCarthy is posing nude in Playboy for autism awareness.

Yes, you read that correctly, at 39, she has decided that the best way to “pimp the cause” is to strip down to her birthday suit in Playboy magazine. Soft-core porn, always the first line of defense and awareness.

If she could say it was to take care of her son, fine, she’s a single mom, not my choice, but I would get it. But no, she claims she is going to make more people aware of autism by getting naked. She is going to educate people about what my daughter lives daily and what we live with by posing nude. No, sorry, doesn’t work that way.

Even if she donates all the money she makes from the shoot and subsequent sales (which she won’t she needs the cash) if anything she damages the credibility of those of us out there truly trying to educate the ignorant. What message does it send that she is “stripping for autism?” If I were a 20-year-old male, I might get the impression that autism moms are sluts. Or at the very least, easy. For those who believe that autism is a made up neurological condition, it would be very easy to dismiss this as a “ploy for attention” because, after all, that’s what we all are doing instead of disciplining our children for stimming.

Instead of being like Jack Black and recording a song or Bootsy Collins and sharing images of kids with autism having fun or Kate Winslet and starting a foundation, posing for Playboy is the way to go. Right…

But wait, there’s more.

Recently McCarthy granted an interview where she talked about her son being a “little Casanova.” Her proof, she lost him at the Playboy Mansion where she took him for an Easter egg hunt and found him in the notorious grotto with two playmates. He then told his mom that “he likes girls.”

Now, here was a gold-plated opportunity to prove she stood with the autism community by talking about how scary the loss of a child with autism is. Particularly the loss of a non-verbal child. Or how children with autism sometimes cannot make value judgments about whom to trust when they are lost. And how elopement can be a very serious issue for children with autism. But no, instead she raves about her son’s skills with the ladies.

And after such a passionately written book about her son’s initial diagnosis, where is the book dealing with the fact of the misdiagnosis and the aftermath of that? Would that not be as equally informative and passionate?

No, how about instead we pose nude for Playboy and claim it is going to help autism. That’s definitely the most effective way to use celebrity for a cause we feel so passionate for.

For better or worse, families of those with autism, caregivers, professionals and autists themselves are linked to Jenny McCarthy for her outspoken activism in relation to autism. So every word that comes out of her mouth or ill-thought out publicity stunt, reflects on us too. Which is why, for the love of our children, siblings, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and friends with autism, we need to stand up and make our voices heard too. The McCarthyism of autism does not have to speak for us if we don’t want it to.

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