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
In your book you say that your book is about having faith that you can do what you need to do for your child. What is faith for you?
|Trust the Path That You're On|
How much of a role does faith play in dealing with autism on a daily basis? If a family’s inner faith is weak, does that affect their child?
|Why Faith Is Everything|
For me, I put the intention of hope and faith in the possibility of my child's recovery. I kept being pushed along in that direction. It's like a magnet. So, if you don't have faith, if you don’t believe inside that [beating autism] is possible, and then it's impossible to get there.
How important do you think it is to have a support system when raising an autistic child?
Oh, my God. If you're not getting it from your husband--and 80 percent [of mothers of autistic children] don't because they wind up in divorce—then you really have to be verbal with your family members. You have to say, "I need help." It was really hard because my mom lived in Chicago, and my sisters who lived in L.A., worked. I used them as much as I possibly could, but it was never enough.
It's also about reaching out to friends. A lot of us get rid of friends at the diagnosis time, friends who have kids the same age who are typically developing. It's too hard to be around them. It's like, "I don't want to see your freakin' kid talk to me about Barney the dinosaur for two hours when my kid can only say one word.”
It's too hard. But, I must say, those friends [who] are willing to kind of come over and babysit once a month are great. You have to really look for those outside resources.
You have support now through your relationship with Jim Carrey and from your family. How important has that been for you and Evan?
Imperative, because I was the pillar of strength for so long that I could barely hold up the walls. Then I prayed. I prayed really hard for someone to come in my life who I can lean on. And Jim, you know, took that job quite nicely, I must say. So I can just cry. It's true. And I've done it. I'm like, "Let me just lay here and cry on your chest. Thank you very much."
How is your son now? Are you pleased with his progress? What are your hopes for his future now?
I’m really happy with his progress. He's in typical preschool. He's doing great. My hope for his future is nothing but perfection. I hope he comes home with hickies on his neck, like what typical kids do when they're older. I want him to go out with his friends and make out with his girlfriend. So I keep those visions alive in me. And I know that we're going to have speed bumps. Evan still has epilepsy. I still have my own battles to be fought. But I'm not losing faith.
Do you think one person can really make a significant difference to fight autism?
If we look throughout history--not that I'm comparing myself at all--there's always been one to speak out. So sometimes it only takes one, and if it was meant to be for me to take the job and keep preaching the message, so be it. But I love being able to share my pain with other moms, so they can go, "I'm not alone feeling like this."
What's the most important advice you would give to the world at large regarding autism?
|Moms, Take Back Your Power|
What would you want to tell parents who are raising an autistic child?
Don't forget about you. Our world becomes a world of autism, and we would let our hair grow out, and roots grow out, and our armpit hairs get long if we had to--just to put ourselves second. Just remember to put yourself first, even if it's once in a while.