On the Autism Warpath
When her son received an autism diagnosis, actress Jenny McCarthy went into 'warrior mode' to save her child--and other kids.
BY: Interview by Dilshad D. Ali
How do you come through moments of despair?
I give myself a break, because it's so overwhelming, so exhausting and trying, and no one gives you a pat on the back. I have to step away sometimes. I say, "I don't want to hear about the autism, diet, detox, therapy." Those are the times where I took a vacation with my girlfriends, or I just stopped for a little bit just because I had to recharge my battery and know that it was okay to not be supermom. And then I'd come back around and go, "Okay, Mom's back."
Would you give that advice to other parents, especially with kids with autism, to deal with the low moments?
|Stepping Away from Autism|
So I begged and begged for babysitters myself. Because you just need that time away. It's so hard. I would tell everyone to make it a priority. Get that rest.
Autism is becoming much more prominently covered by the media. Do you think that people have realized that it's an epidemic? Is enough being done?
|How to Fight Autism|
I'd also like the [American Academy of Pediatrics] to come and take a look at all these kids that are getting better through diet and detox. Because a lot of people don't know about this, or they read about it online, and they don't hear from a doctor. So they think, "Well, do I do that much work? Because I don't know if it'll work, and I don't want to do all that [detoxification and changing of diets] if it's not going to work."
But if it came from their pediatrician, they just might try it. So I'm inviting pediatrics to start looking at a lot of the research that's being done on the kids [who are on gluten-free and casein-free diets and in detox programs] who are getting better. I want alternative medicine to be viewed as real medicine. Why a special diet is [considered] alternative? It’s crazy.
What do you say to a family who just received that devastating diagnosis? Where do they begin?
If you read my book, it's a good start. Second is to get a DAN [Defeat Autism Now] doctor. Then change the diet, go GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free), and sign up for therapies immediately. Go to state-funded, in-home therapy centers. Get speech therapy and whatever else your kid needs. And also let’s not forget to take time out to mourn the loss of what you thought the future would be.
I always say I kept crying and mourning the loss of what I thought Evan's future should have been like. You have to take time and go through those emotions, and that's really important. Otherwise, they're going to pile up and come crashing down.
What do you think the right combination of attack is for dealing with autism?
I think that doing a combination [of biomedical and behavioral/social therapy] is key. This is my motto to the parents. If your child doesn't feel good, he can't absorb the therapies in front of him. The biomedical approach can make [autistic kids] feel good, and I have to tell you, if it wasn't for the biomedical, my kid would not have gotten this far. And my biomedical was not intense like what some other parents do—with chelating and injections. I just did the diet and excluded yeast. You've just got to know your kid and know how far you're willing to go.
What would you say to parents who have tried a biomedical approach, but their child has not responded? Autistic kids don't all make the same progress.
That's a good point. It's the same thing with chemotherapy. It works on some people, and not on others. I do know that changing the diets--getting rid of sugars, wheat and dairy completely, and yeast--will make most kids at least feel better and better.
In terms of getting to a recovery place, each kid is so unique on where they are on the autism spectrum. Keep looking into things. Keep researching and know that you're just doing your best.