Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson Peete discuss their battles with autism on Oprah

09/18/2007 at 09:59 PM ET

Actresses Jenny McCarthy, 34, and Holly Robinson Peete, 43, appeared on Oprah earlier today to discuss their sons — Evan Joseph, 5, and Rodney, Jr., who will be 10 next month — autism diagnoses. Holly previously discussed her family’s experience in People in May, while Jenny confirmed rumors on The View the same month.

Click below to read Jenny and Holly’s experiences with autism, as told to Oprah. If anyone knows where we can find video of the show for those that missed it, please leave a comment or send an email.

Jenny’s Story:

20070918_101_350x263As aninfant, Evan was full of life, making eye contact and smiling, but soonthings started to change.

It started with hand flapping. You only look for the good signs. God was giving me many hints about my son,and I didn’t quite see them. So I know that he had to wakeme up with two really big ones.

Jenny says the first of those "big hints" came on a typical morningwhen Evan was 2 1/2 years old. When Evan, who usually got up at 7 am,wasn’t stirring by 7:45 am, Jenny knew something was wrong. She ran tothe nursery.

I open the door and run to his crib and I find him in hiscrib, convulsing, struggling to breathe, his eyeballs rolled to theback of his head. I picked him up and I started screamingat the top of my lungs…the paramedics came, and it took about 20minutes for the seizure to stop.

When they arrived at the hospital, Jenny says doctors told her that herson had a febrile seizure, caused by a fever.

I said to the doctor,’Well, you know, he doesn’t really have a fever, so how does that playin this scenario?’ [The doctor said], ‘Well, he couldhave been getting one.’ That was the response I got…I went home withmy baby going, ‘You know what? Something’s wrong and I don’t know whatit is, but I feel it.’

About three weeks after the initial seizure, Evan had a second episode.Jenny says she had driven him three hours to see his grandparents whenshe noticed a "kind of stoned look on his face" as she handed him tohis grandmother.

I walk into the bedroom to give Evan his bottle, andhe’s lying flat on the bed with his eyes rolled in the back of hishead. I called 911 because I knew it was happening again.

Her instinct was to put cold rags on him — a common treatment for febrileseizures. But Jenny says this one was different.

He wasn’t convulsing,nor was he trying to get any breath — [there was] just foam coming out ofhis mouth. I put my hand on him, and I kept saying, ‘Juststay with me,’ because I felt like he was going. And after a fewmoments, I felt his heart stop.’

When paramedics arrived they began CPR on Evan.

At that very momentthat I watched my baby trying to get his heart started, I rememberthinking, ‘Why?’ And then I heard this voice [inside me]that said, ‘Everything is going to be okay.’ I don’t know how in themidst of hell that I was in that this voice [said], ‘Everything’s goingto be okay,’ and it’s like…peace came over my body.

The paramedics revived Evan, but with no available helicopter, he hadto be driven three hours back to Los Angeles for treatment.

In thattime, he had another seizure. By the time we got to the Los Angeleshospital, he had seven more seizures within a seven-hour period.

Jennyevansub_1183001614Two days later, a doctor diagnosed Evan with epilepsy.

[Thedoctor said], ‘There’s got to be someone with seizures on your side ofthe family.’ I said, ‘No, actually I know every branch. I know what’sgoing on. There’s nothing. No one [with] epilepsy.’ And theydischarged us.

Jenny says every instinct she had was telling her that her son was not epileptic — so she went for a second opinion. After spending 20 minutes with Evan, a neurologist gave Jenny what shedescribes as a devastating diagnosis — Evan had autism.

And boy, mymommy instinct said, ‘This man is right.’

Jenny says hearing the words made her feel "like death."

[The doctor]said, ‘Hey, don’t forget. This is the same little boy you came in thisroom with. He’s not any different. He’s the same boy. And,true, he was correct. He was the same boy. But I did happen to say,’Well, I believe my son is trapped inside. I’m not settling for this.’

In hindsight, Jenny realizes she missed signs of Evan’s autism — such ashis obsession with moving objects. Others had noticed somethingdifferent about Evan, too.

My mother-in-law said, ‘He doesn’t reallyshow affection,’ and I threw her out of the house. I wentto a play gym, and the woman [there] said, ‘Does your son have a brainproblem?’ … [I said], ‘How dare you say something about my child? Ilove him. He’s perfect. You can’t say that about a child.’ I just had no idea.

As with most autistic children, Jenny says she noticed that Evan’spersonality seemed to be locked inside him — and she was determined toget him out. She began scouring the Internet, where she read recoverystories and discovered treatment options.

One treatment Jennydecided to try was a change in eating habits. She immediately startedeliminating gluten and casein, found in wheat and dairy products, fromEvan’s diet.

In two weeks to three weeks — and this isn’t for everyone,to get a reaction like this — Evan doubled his language. [There was] eye contact, smiling, more affection.

20070918_104_350x263To help Evan learn to play with toys as other children do, Jenny triedanother approach — video modeling and play therapy. Because Evan didn’tknow how to play catch, Jenny showed him a video of her catching aball. From that day on, Jenny says he was into the game. She used playtherapy to help him learn in other ways.

A lot of kids on the [autism]spectrum, including Evan, would take [a toy] car and just line them upor turn them upside down and just [spin the wheels]. Soplay therapy literally is teaching him that the car can go on anadventure.

With the help of these treatments, Jenny says Evan, now 5, is makinggreat strides.

I consider him in recovery. There’s still things weneed to work on — seizures, stuff with abstract understanding, but forthe most part he’s a typical child in normal school.

Whilethese therapies worked for Evan, Jenny emphasizes that it might notwork for every child with autism.

I’m just a mom telling a story ofother moms. We want to share it and say our kids do get better. [It’s like] chemotherapy. It doesn’t work for every cancervictim, but you know what? You’re going to give it a try.

70611j10_mccarthey_b_gr_01_cbbIn recent years, the number of children diagnosed with autism has risenfrom 1 in every 500 children to 1 in 150 — and science has not discovereda reason why. Jenny says she believes that childhood vaccinations mayplay a part.

What n
umber will it take for people just to startlistening to what the mothers of children who have seen autism havebeen saying for years, which is, ‘We vaccinated our baby and
something happened.’

Jenny says even before Evan received his vaccines, she tried to talk toher pediatrician about it.

Right before his MMR shot, I said to thedoctor, ‘I have a very bad feeling about this shot. This is the autismshot, isn’t it?’ And he said, ‘No, that is ridiculous. It is a mother’sdesperate attempt to blame something,’ and he swore at me, and then thenurse gave [Evan] the shot. And I remember going, ‘Oh, God,I hope he’s right.’ And soon thereafter — boom — the soul’s gone from hiseyes.

Despite her belief, Jenny says she is not against vaccines.

I am allfor them, but there needs to be a safer vaccine schedule. There needsto be something done. The fact that the [Centers for Disease Controland Prevention] acts as if these vaccines are one size fits all is justcrazy to me. People need to start listening to what themoms have been saying.

Jenny_mccarthySoon after Evan’s diagnosis, Jenny says the stress of raising a childwith autism began to take a toll on her marriage. An autism advocacyorganization reports that the divorce rate within the autism communityis staggering. According to its research, 80% of all marriagesend.

    I believe it, because I lived it. I felt very alone in my marriage.

Jenny says her husband, John Asher, dealt with his pain by staying away, even whenEvan was in the hospital.

He never sat down and said, ‘What did youfind out on Google?’ There was never that connection ofwanting to know and being there.

When Jenny’s marriage ended, she says she felt sad — and scared.

Afterthe divorce, even though it felt good and the right thing to do, Ifelt, as I’m sure many mothers with children who have autism feel, ‘Whoin the heck is going to love me with my child who has autism?’ I don’t care how big your boobs are or blonde your hairis — you’re going to feel that way.

Jenny says she began to pray every day that she’d find a man with a big enough heart to love her andEvan.

We come as a pair. I kept that hope, that vision ofa man coming into my life that would love us both equally.

Jimcarrey_jennymccarthy_evanasher13In the midst of the seizures, doctor visits and divorce, Jenny met the man she was looking for, actor Jim Carrey.

The pair hit it off right away, but Jenny says she waited a few monthsto tell him about Evan’s diagnosis.

I did not tell him initially, youknow, ‘Hi, how are you? I have a child with autism. Do you want to dateme?’ It’s something you’re personally kind of afraid toshare.

In the beginning, Jenny says she was just looking for someone to holdher and notice her pretty new blouse. "I just needed that so badly,"she says.

At one point in their relationship, Jenny says she had to say goodbyeto Jim because Evan’s condition was getting worse. Suddenly, she saysher priorities went from kissing Jim on the sofa to focusing solely onher child’s health.

Jimcarrey_evanasher134082_cbbWhen Evan began to recover, Jenny’s "girl instincts" took over. Shesays she sent Jim a text message that said, "Is there still room onyour sofa or has the seat been filled?" Jim replied, "Your seat willalways be here." From that day on, Jenny says Jim has been a big part of her and Evan’slife.

He has been so wonderful in Evan’s life. Let me tellyou, ladies, Jim Carrey knows a lot about autism. He has been throughit all with me…He did fall in love with Evan, and he’s so good withhim. [He’s] opened his heart and the relationship is great.

Jenny calls fellow actress Holly Robinson Peete her "angel." In their first phoneconversation, Holly says they talked for about nine hours. "[Holly]gave me that hope that no doctor did," Jenny says.

Holly’s Story:

Holly and her husband, retired NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, receivedtheir son R.J.‘s diagnosis in 1999 but waited until the summer of 2007to go public with their experiences. Holly says they waited to talkabout autism until they felt more informed.

I didn’t feel like I knewenough about the disorder at that point.

20070918_111_350x263Back in 1999, Holly says there were very few resources for parents ofautistic children. Even doctors were less informed than they are today.

I had a developmental pediatrician tell me, ‘Your son will never dothis, he will never say he loves you, he will never do that. It was a very interesting ride.

Previously, 1 in 500 children was diagnosed with this neurologicaldisorder. Today, Holly says 1 in every 94 boys is affected. For unknownreasons, autism disproportionately affects boys.

Over the years, Holly says she’s realized autism is like a wall aroundyour child.

You have to be like a superhero…and kickthat wall down and make cracks in that wall to bring your childthrough. You have a very short window of time, and you haveto get busy — the more cracks you make, the more you have anopportunity to bring them into our world.

Like Jenny, Hollyhas tried to reverse the effects of her son’s autism with dietaryprograms and behavior therapies. When Holly got R.J. tested and foundout he was allergic to gluten, she put him on a wheat-free diet.

[Gluten] makes him crazy. And he can’t focus. So we tookthe wheat out, and that made a huge difference.

Holly says she and Rodney have also tried every type of therapy — fromspeech therapy to floor time to applied behavioral analysis.

He’sresponded to some things well and others not so well. We’vetried to focus [on the most successful] and pick and choose.

Img_0239_cbbThey have also tried to focus on maintaining a healthy, happyrelationship. Holl
y says autism impacted her marriage, but she andRodney learned to rely on each other when times were tough.

I just amso lucky to have him. I know how hard it is for the men and theirboys. We women, you know, we fight and we do what we haveto do. I’m just glad he stuck around to be my partner in this thing,because I couldn’t have done it without him.

R.J., who turns 10 years old in October, has made a lot ofprogress over the years thanks to Holly and Rodney’s persistence andpatience. He has even learned to play the piano.

He has perfectpitch.

Although some family members were critical of Holly and Rodney’sdecision to go public with their son’s disorder, Holly is happy withthe outcome.

My son is amazing. He’s come a long way, and he is veryconscious of the fact that he’s helping other people by the familysharing his story.

By talking openly about autism, Holly hopes people will begin to changetheir perception of the children who live with it every day.

We needto value these children that are here. We need to stop thinking aboutthem as children who are retarded. We need to stop thinkingabout them as children who don’t have the capacity to learn.

Holly says R.J. was kicked out of one school because the educatorsdeemed him "unteachable." Now, he’s working with a partner in a newschool and making strides.

We have to figure out how their brainswork. There are a lot of people who are on the spectrumwho are brilliant.

20070918_110_350x263Many parents of children with autism may not have the same success asJenny and Holly, but these Hollywood moms want them to come away withone thing — hope.

I want to say [to parents], you’re not alone. There’sa lot of hope. It’s a new day in the world of autism, andwe’re fighting.

Holly says the CDC’s statement aboutvaccinations has given her hope that parents and medical professionalscan lay down their arms and open the lines of communication.

I wouldjust say to the pediatricians, listen to [mothers] sometimes and giveus a little bit more respect. Our gut is really dead on.

Jenny urges moms in her situation not to feel guilty about their child’s diagnosis and to trust their instincts.

You can also watch a video of Rodney Peete talking about his son here.

Article/photo/video source: Oprah

Jenny’s new book, Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism is available now.

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Sara on

i really enjoyed watching these two women on oprah. They really have a passion for educating people about autism and letting other mothers of children with autism know they are not alone. I love that!

tippythepoodle on

I must say that being 27 I grew up watching Jenny on Singled Out on MTV. I always thought she was just some goofy blond because that’s all I ever saw of her. (have you seen Dirty Love?) LOL

Watching this interview made me RESPECT her soo much. She is a smart and dedicated woman and she is sooo intelligent. She is an awesome crusader and I wish her all the best in her fight to save her son.

BTW i love Holly and her family-Rodney is an awesome model for what a man should be for his family!

Cheyane Goodrich on

When I read both Holly’s and Jenny’s stories it really touched me because they have such hectic lives which involves Hollywood but theu are both really involved mothers who obviously love their children through and through. I am a mother of an almost 4-year-old daughter and I couldn’t imagine her being any different than how she is. During her first year Allana was sick a lot with ear infections and pneumonia which was difficult in and of itself because I had her up at the emergency room so often. Its very scary when your child, your world is rocked by sickness. Its very scary and I appreciate the fact that Jenny and Holly shared their personal stories with everyone.


MaryAlice Quigley on

Reading the article I am crying. These women, and not just them but other mothers who have children with autisim are strong. and they have to be in order to stand up and fight for what is right for their children.
Jenny is right when it comes to meds one size does NOT fit all and shots should be given to a child based on weight hight and developmental milestones. But the insurance companies and doctors are worried that parnets wont come back for the shot or extra apointments. for one, it costs the insurance company extra money to come back in and in some instances it costs the parent money. I am in no way saying that the shot causes or does not cause autisim. Just that one size does not fit all. and that it is worth looking into.I wish them the best of luck.

Sarah F on

I’m watching this Oprah right now on DVR… very touching!

Ronnie C on

As the mother of a 27-year-old son with autism, I can certainly relate to the stories of Jenny & Holly. If I had one message for them and other mothers of children with autism, it would be, “Don’t give up hope! Everything you do for your child will have an impact later in their lives.” When my son was diagnosed almost 25 years ago, the ratio was 1 in 2500 births! Autism awareness has certainly come a long way – not always for the right reasons. I am proud to say that my son lives independently, has had the same job for five years, has a girlfriend, and a very busy social life! We should all be so luck to lead the charmed life he leads! Keep the faith!

Natalie S. on

I gotta admit, i’m crying as well after reading that story of both women & their children. They’re both very strong women, hell any women who has an autistic child is a strong woman in my book. Not to get sidetracked, but Hats off to Jim Carrey what a great man to open himself to Jenny and Evan. Best wishes to them all.

Anna on

This isn’t an attack on Jenny or her beliefs, but I believe this needs to be said. About her comment that childhood vaccinations may have played a part — thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative that is the supposed “culprit” for autism — was removed from all childhood vaccines (except influenza) in 1999. Those vaccines didn’t expire until 2002, so it’s possible — though quite unlikely — that some of his vaccines contained thimerosal. Still, if he was breasted, he probably ingested far more mercury from her breastmilk, even if she didn’t eat many “high-risk” fish. Even if he somehow ended up with all his vaccines at the tail end of their expiration — even if they all contained thimerosal — the vaccine-autism link has been disproved in dozens of studies.

The “higher” rates of autism is more likely to do higher rates of diagnosis; that is to say, there aren’t actually more kids developing autism, but an increased awareness of the disease has resulted in more kids and parents getting the proper diagnosis, and kids closer to the “normal” end of the spectrum — kids that wouldn’t have been diagnosed ten years ago — being diagnosed with form like Asperberger’s.

Tracy on

I loved the Oprah episode so much I ran out an bought Jenny’s book last night. As the mother of one child with autism and another with “autistic tendencies”, I was THRILLED to finally be able to read about this incredibly hard journey from a MOTHER’S perspective. I actually sat and read the entire 200 pg book before heading to bed. It was an easy, quick read and so enlightening. If you have or know a child with autism, this book will certainly help to understand what too many families are being forced to endure.

Isabel on

I am so happy they both are open to talking about their experiences. We definitely need more role models for parent with children with Autism. Being a parent myself with a child who has Autism it’s the hardest, most intense, draining, experience of my life. But also the most rewarding and fulfilling. Each day is a wonder to behold. Each accomplished is magnified a 100 times over. So many times I just want to crawl in a ball and put the covers over your head because it’s soooo hard but I look into my son’s brown eyes and thank God for him everyday. Being his mother and his advocate is an immense pleasure and one I cherish deeply.

brookefan on

These two devoted mothers ought to be the patron saints for families with children with autism. I know 5 boys with autism, and was a nanny for one of them. The impact on the families is huge. I began to genuinely love Jennie and Holly as I watched them, so articularly advocating for all children with autism. Thank you, Jennie, Holly, and of course, OPRAH…if she gets behind the research and support for families who live wiith autism, there will be progress in finding treatment and cause.

Campbell on

Women are steel magnolias. I saw the program yesterday and I encourage everyone to find a way to watch it. I believe it is that important. If Jenny and Holly could only know how many people were filled w/ hope….

Melissa on

I am so sorry i missed the show. I love how they are both so open about it and don’t hide them away like some people do. I forgot Jenny’s book came out yesterday i will have to pick that up. I love her books they are alway so so open and honest and funny and i’m sure this one will be the same even though it is about something serious.

Tiffany on

Does anyone know of any place online to watch the interview??

christina on

As the mother of a 4-year-old girl with autism, I was really glad to see Jenny & Holly on Oprah, raising awareness and sharing hope about autism. I am surprised that they did not mention the research that points to genetics being a factor in autism, though. But there was only so much time, eh?

Tracy on

I really don’t see why anyone would want to treat a child with autism any differently than any other child. I understand that it can be a VERY scary and trying situation to live with, but at the end of the day they are just children that need love, even if they can’t express it back.

I remember watching Holly become engaged on “Hanging with Mr. Cooper” and also grew up with Jenny on “Singled Out”, so these women are a very big part of my childhood! It’s amazing that they are moms now, and it’s even MORE amazing that they are moms who have a message to share.

The only thing that worried me about this article is the talk about the vaccine… I don’t have any children of my own just yet, but I fear that when I do have them I’m not going to know what to do about the vaccine! Do parents actually have an opinion in the matter or is this one of those mandatory shots?

I didn’t get to watch Oprah (sadly) so I’m not sure if there was more information on that part…

Any advice?

jenna on

Well I don’t have any children yet but after doing some research I have decided not to vaccinate. Why take a chance.

preesi on

I think Jenny and Holly are doing a great disservice to parents of autistic children. MOST autistic children improve but do not RECOVER!
Those that do “recover” are those autistics that are very very mild, if autistic at all!

Although their advice is good, their results are not atypical and give false hope to already harried people.


Campbell on

pressi, with all due respect… please reread the selected sections above or BETTER YET please find a way to see the interview in its entirety. She was very cautious to say that what worked for Evan, is like choosing chemo, it clearly does not work for all. Jenny said SPECIFICALLY that this was HER journey w/ Evan’s special needs. Holly and Jenny both said some things worked, some didn’t.

Also, I think it was very important what Holly said about that narrow window of opportunity. But certainly you are right, so MANY dear children can’t find their way “out”. But if this just helps one….

missie on

Please do vaccinate! The diseases, if contracted, can be deadly for young children. There are healthy schedules that are available that give vaccines in parts (only measles on one visit, etc.), though it means you will be taking your child in for shots way more often. Another option is testing for titres, which is a blood screen to see if immunity is reached after one shot in the series. Then you may immunize against what your child is not immune to.
As an educator of children with Autism I had concerns with shots, so with my own children we decided to wait until after their third birthday with the suspect vaccinations, when the risk of Autism is significantly less. We do not use daycare though, so our doctor was satisfied with the postponement. And don’t be pressured by your doctor! You have the final choice, and may need to find another doctor if he or she is not making you comfortable.

On another subject, I am proud of Jenny and Holly for making known the real life situations parents face and the stresses it brings to the family. They also brought up the many therapies available, whether nutritional, behavioral or physical. Hopefully their dedication will continue to bring positives to their family and others. My prayers are with them and those touched by Aspergers/Autism/PDDNOS!

Claire on

I just wanted to add in regards to vaccination – it’s so important. I think society has forgotten the impact that diseases like measles can have – fortunately it’s not part of our generation anymore as it has been in the past. I know and I became personally aware when my sister who wasn’t able to have her shot because she had an illness at the time contracted measles. It was a severe bout which weakened her heart muscles and she died. I wouldn’t won’t anyone to endure as a family what we had to.

preesi on

Anna said:
“This isn’t an attack on Jenny or her beliefs, but I believe this needs to be said. About her comment that childhood vaccinations may have played a part — thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative that is the supposed “culprit” for autism — was removed from all childhood vaccines (except influenza) in 1999.”

It may not be the thimerosol AT ALL!
If what people have been talking about is that Autism is caused as an immune response of some sort, is true, then it is not the thimerosol but the overload on the immune system by the bundled MMR vaccine (which all three USED to be given as individual vaccines)
In the past it was never about the thimerosol but about the sudden bundling “all in one” of 3 vaccines that I believe was the real culprit…

And Campbell I did watch the entire episode of Oprah yesterday. The only time Jenny ever mentioned the “One Size Fits All” thing is in talking about the Vaccines. Unless I missed a part when I was getting a snack, I never heard one time where she stated that HER results were not typical at all. in fact at one time in the interview she kind of made it seem as if some kids dont overcome autism cause their parents cant accept the diagnosis and are too tired …

Sarah’s note: When she was talking about Evan’s diet, she was very clear that it was just what worked for them. Not sure about the vaccine stuff.

Kris on

Don’t you need vaccinations to start school? Or is that something that’s state by state?

Raemiri on


My mother chose to never vaccinate me or any of my four siblings, who are all healthy and have never had any health complications. When it came to the school, my mother would just write a note saying that she did not vaccinate her children because of personal beliefs. The schools never argued and it was never an issue.

emski on

There are ways to get out of the vaccine requirements for school.

I thought the interview was wonderful! Both women were very honest and open about their situations.

Vaccination to me is one of those parenting choices that each family needs to make for themselves. I only hope that before making the choice to vaccinate or not, the family takes the time to educate themselves.

Kris on

Thanks Raemiri.

Autism Dad on

Check out this site, written by parents of autistic kids to see what they are saying:

Atlanta, We Have a Problem (and her name is Jenny McCarthy)
By J.B. Handley

Help Wanted: Director of Media Relations for the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control. Must be able to spin cow pies into gold and make pigs fly. Need you today!

In the always hot autism-vaccine debate, the CDC has taken their share of hits in recent years: David Kirby’s release of Evidence of Harm, Dan Olmsted’s consistently logical reporting for UPI (and now the Rescue Post), screaming parents in front of CDC headquarters, and a full page ad we ran in USA Today in 2006 blaming the CDC for causing the autism epidemic.

But, CDC has never met the category 5 shit-storm that blew into town yesterday after two angry moms, Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson Peete, appeared on Oprah (the last truly national TV show in our new media world, with an estimated 10 million daily viewers).

The fun is just beginning. According to TACA’s website, where Ms. McCarthy now serves as national spokesperson, she is scheduled to appear in the next 10 days on Larry King Live, 20/20, Good Morning America, and The View. Kim Stagliano has listed Jenny’s media schedule in a post earlier this week, scroll down to see it.

To add insult to injury, Ms. McCarthy’s book, Louder Than Words, is climbing the charts. At, she’s up to #8, and over at Barnes & Noble, she’s already #2! If you liked the Oprah interview, you’ll love the book, because Ms. McCarthy leaves nothing unsaid.

What’s extraordinary about Ms. McCarthy’s media blitz isn’t just that she’s a celebrity talking about autism on our terms, it’s that she’s talking about biomedical recovery for her son. While Don and Deirdre Imus did us all a huge favor with their advocacy, they never addressed our community’s true trump card: recovered children.

Not only is Jenny doing that, she’s doing that while being a former Playmate of the Year, a popular comedic actress, dating Jim Carrey, and presiding over a collection of national bestsellers about being a Mom.

If you missed it, here’s a little excerpt from Oprah’s show that they put up on last night:

In recent years, the number of children diagnosed with autism has risen from 1 in every 500 children to 1 in 150—and science has not discovered a reason why. 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.”

Oprah actually read a statement from the CDC. It was painful to listen to, and I’m sure the nation’s bullshit meter went on high alert given how qualified it was. Interestingly, the statement focused exclusively on Thimerosal in vaccines, even though Ms. McCarthy blamed the MMR for her son’s regression, a Thimerosal-free vaccine.

This is the only play left in the CDC’s playbook, as I mentioned in a post back in August, The Thimerosal Shield, where I noted, “they [CDC] know that Thimerosal is only one of the possible ways that the vaccine schedule could be the primary trigger behind the autism epidemic, but the spin seems to be, ‘It’s not Thimerosal so we should no longer consider vaccines’ despite the fact that neither point is true.”

I’m popping the popcorn, snuggling the chair up to the TV, and looking forward to the next few weeks. The Category 5 shit-storm is just getting started, and we’re all going to enjoy watching Ms. McCarthy yell “Louder Than Words.”

J.B.Handley is co-founder of Generation Rescue.

Anon on

I thought Jenny McCarthy believed her son’s autism was actually some kind of special spiritual thing…or is that someone else? I want to say it was something like a “blue moon child”, but I know that’s wrong. Something having to do with new age beliefs, though. Does she not believe that anymore?

Sarah’s note: Not sure. She has since taken down the site she was previously promoting. Sounds like she found other things that work for Evan, although she may still believe the crystal child stuff.

Oh Baby Gifts on

wow, this was a really touching story. I was always intrigued by these stories of kids with autism as they prove to have amazing strengths as well. I remember seeing a video of one of the most biggest math geniuses who happened to be autistic as well. I’m glad to hear how much of a good mommy Jenny and Holly are. Great read!

preesi on

Jenny McCarthy thought Evan was an Indigo Child, or all Autistics were Indigo Children or something like that.

And again, its not the Thimerosol its the fact that they bundle three vaccines into one. They used to give them separately but not anymore.

What would it hurt to unbundle them and try em separately again?

Anna on

The vast majority of focus on the vaccine-autism link has been on thimerosal. Concerns about MMR are incredibly new — only since thimerosal was taken out of the vaccines — and there has been absolutely no proof that there could be any kind of a link. As I said, the majority of public health officials and epidemiologists believe that the rise in autism is more likely due to a rise in diagnosis than an increase in the prevalence of the disease itself.

Vaccinations are incredibly important; population-wide vaccination programs are probably the single greatest public health advance in the last century. It may seem like your children’s chances of getting measles or diptheria are small, but the disease spreads exponentially with each parent who chooses not to vaccinate their child. And it’s not just your child — no vaccine provides a 100 percent guard against the disease, so when you choose not to vaccinate, you’re putting everyone else’s children at risk too.

Jenny’s right that vaccines are hugely important. At the moment though, there can’t be a “safer” vaccine since vaccines have continually been proven to be very safe, and the risks are outweighed a hundred fold by the cost of not vaccinating. Maybe science is missing something, but until there is a large, well managed study that finds vaccines unsafe, they aren’t going to change.

Erika on

Anna- Jenny did not breastfeed Evan (she said this in Belly Laughs or was it Baby Laughts). Why do you think that breastfed children ingest a lot of mercury, I am curious? Also, the thimersol in vaccinations was much more potent b/c it is injected directly into a child’s bloodstream- and is too much for a small child’s body weight to handle.

Even so, the fact that thimersol has been eliminated is only one part of the puzzle. Vaccinations are still not safe for many children- their bodies cannot fight off so many diseases at a time and the combination of vaccines in a child can lead to harmful results. Please educate yourself before you make such sweeping generalizations.

It is your right as a parent to research vaccinations and to refuse those that make you uncomfortable. All 50 states offer exemptions for public schools. Know your rights! I’m so glad Jenny and Holly did this show!

gabriella on

I thought both halle and jenny were great yesterday.

preesi on

Anna? no its only been in regards to the ONE vaccine, the MMR vaccine cause its typically given at 18 months. Thats usually when most mothers of autistics notice the change.
The Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines were separate vaccines when I was a child, then they BUNDLED them into one shot for CONVENIENCE! And then the problems began. If it was the thimerosol, then they wouldnt be concerned ONLY with the MMR vaccine but all vaccines.

As a side note, some of the Drs Ive spoken to are now asking about SCHIZOPHRENIA in the family history…Ive been thinking that for awhile because the same drugs that they use for Schizophrenics work for Autistics (Risperdal, Seroquel and Abilify) and I cant tell you how many mothers I have talked to whose “former” husbands had major markers for schizophrenia and/or major anger issues.

Christine on

I am the mother of a 4yr old boy with autism and I felt that these 2 moms gave us the voice we desperately needed.

It was the best Oprah show I’ve seen (for me) and I was totally satisfied with what they said.
My child’s autism is NOT a result of vaccines, rather a birth injury. I totally respect the parents who believe their children were affected by vaccines.
That said, I have vax’d my other 2 children with no issues.

My son was dx’d at 2y6m of age and at that point we started the gluten/casein free diet along with supplements (Jenny could have been speaking for me regarding googling, the internet etc…)
Within 2 weeks of being on the diet – he said “Mommy” for the first time.
He is now nearly 5 and mainstreamed into kindergarten. He’s doing tremendously well – but like Jenny’s son still has issues (language, sensory, fine motor)

I love that she said he wasn’t recovered, but he is recovering.

I just hope that people/professionals will take parents more seriously and not think that we are “grasping at straws” as far as diet and whatnot.

Li on

Great interview. I do not vaccinate my kids, never have. Don’t forget that there are many other questionable ingredients in vaccines such as aluminum and formaldehyde. School exemptions are very easy to get.

Becky on

I personally strongly believe in vaccinations, but I can understand peoples concerns. My fiance is a physician, and his step sister (who was vaccinated) decided not to vaccinate her children. She called us one day recently in a panic because one of her friends had exposed her children to the measles, and previously they had been exposed to pertussis. Both of which are covered in vaccinations.

I just hope people are weighing both sides of the issue, I don’t believe autism is caused by vaccines themselves, but even if you do, think of how many lives they have saved since their creation.

preesi on

I have to add something:

I REALLY applaud Jenny for the things she DID get right…

The vaccine thing
Telling people to offer to babysit
To trust your instincts as Mothers…

Mom of a 6 year old with Autism on

Urgh. I shouldn’t comment – too mad – but the insensitivity of the medical community – as highlighted by many on here who are ‘experts’ on all vaccines “do” – just astounds me. You know what? I’d happily take whooping cough over never being able to hear my son’s thoughts or him ever being able to adequately express them. Reminds me of the lovely pediatrician we had for our daughter. When my husband pushed to have her vaccines broken up, he was made to feel like he was risking our daughter’s health, safety, blah blah blah as he assured us there was of course, no link whatsoever. Mind you, this pediatrician’s actual knowledge of autism was laughable…. Anyway, in the end, my husband said: why take that chance when if YOU’RE wrong, we can’t get our daughter back? We’ve already ‘lost’ our son, we’re not risking her too until more is known.

We got a new pediatrician.:) At least the new one respects the parents.

But isn’t it curious how we all have to sign waivers now before vaccines are administered – just to make sure ‘just in case’ it is the vaccines?

Hypocrisy can be astounding.

P.S. Been through the casein/gluten free diet. Didn’t work for us. My son dropped from 38 pounds to 29 within 6 week’s time – refusing to eat any of the choices that diet left him with.

Oh, and by the way, while he’s presently, essentially, non verbal – we can’t help but remember the little boy who used to answer all of Dora’s questions in full sentences just weeks before his 18 Month MMR shot. He’s never said a single sentence since. Or been able to do another leg lift in imitation of Steve from Blue’s Clue’s.

But gosh darn, at least he doesn’t have Measles.

To those curious – google the symptoms of mercury poisoning and then google the symptoms of autism. Let me know if you notice any difference.

Texas and Indiana have the highest autism rates in the U.S. Texas and Indiana also have the highest mercury emissions from their plants.

But yeah, chalk it up to better diagnosis and genetics.

Sleep well.

Roni on

Your Dinner Secret Supports Jenny McCarthy Book on Healing Autism

One of the most important tools that Jenny describes in her book is the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free diet on which she placed her child.

To the best of our knowledge, Your Dinner Secret ( is the only place in the country where Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) frozen and ready-to-cook meals, sides and baked goods are sold and shipped to families dealing with autism.

Roni Piterman, co-owner of Your Dinner Secret, is an experienced and very quotable expert on GFCF cooking. “Although we only recently started supplying meals that meet the very stringent requirements of the GFCF diet,” notes Piterman, “we are regularly hearing success stories from our customers. These stories are in line with the wonderful success that Jenny reports in her book.”

“It is very easy to make a mistake if you try to do this diet by yourself,” points out Piterman. “Flour with gluten is used to dust raisins and various spices to keep them from clumping. It is in most soy sauce, barbecue sauce and thousands of other edible products. Cross-contamination in factories is a major issue. You simply need expert guidance. But, as Jenny found out, children with autism truly benefit from this diet.”

Your Dinner Secret is located at:
20929 Ventura Blvd.
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

hanna on

Autism is a genetic disorder!! Please stop blaming vaccines, everybody gets vaccinated, so how come most people do not have autism?
Read about fragile X syndrom, the most common cause of autism, in most cases, the mother affects her sons!

Mom of a 6 year old with Autism on

Hey Hanna, are all kids allergic to peanuts?

Seriously, how long you got to explain the mercury link?

You won’t find it in typical medical textbooks. Nothing in it for the pharmaceutical companies.

And I should hope you realize that not all people with Fragile X have autism, nor do all people with Autism have Fragile X.

Annoyomus on

Hanna- ITA! I have an Autism spectrum disorder myself, and I definently believe that it’s a genetic thing. I am not saying that environment has absolutly no influence on it at all, but I believe that, for the most part, it is a genetic disorder.

That said, I also agree with Mom of a 6 year with Autism. Fragile X is definently a different disorder than Autism, and it definently does not cause Autism. Some people may have both, but one does not cause the other.

cyndi on

Wow! This topic is so interesting to me. My son was born with Prune Belly Sydrome, diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma (an extremely rare form of childhood cancer) at 10 months, and then Autism at 18 months. Let me tell you all, I’ve done my research and have concluded that every disease carries a genetic predispositon but it is the environmental factors that “seal the deal”. I’m convinced that vaccinations, chemotherapy, and long term antibiotic use is why my son (, page name is lukegutierrez) has Autism.

L.Noelle on

I missed this episode on Oprah, so I was really happy to read it posted here. It’s refreshing to read such an important topic being posted on here.
Being the mom of a 2-1/2 year old son with Down Syndrome, I have so much sympathy and understanding for what mom’s go through with their autistic children. I have been blessed with a healthy, bright, thriving boy who has avoided many stereoptypical problems associated with Down Syndrome, and by all means don’t have the challenges many parents face with their children who are autistic. However I now understand things on a much different level.

I would hate to know that the readers here get side tracked, focusing on only vaccines, and miss the bigger picture. Any parent, celebrity or not, who devotes their time to advocating for their child, is a true hero. It isn’t until you find that you need to speak up for your child because no one else will, that you realize nothing else is as important as that. I applaud all parents who do this, to which there are Hundreds of Thousands!

After studying vaccines, reports, research, periodicals, medical journals and stories for over 10 years, I have concluded a few things. Vaccines are very important in any society, if they are used appropriately and sparingly. Vaccines also help spare many people from contracting otherwise deadly diseases.

However, Vaccines, with out a doubt, are destroying our children’s immune systems, one shot at a time. Unfortunately, our children are sicker than ever before with more immune system disorders, neurological disorders, allergies, autism, etc. What most parents don’t understand or question is that babies are born with perfect, pure immune systems that are able to fight off many things. The first thing they want to do in the hospital is dose up your perfect baby with foreign viruses!!! This makes NO sense! A babies immune system isn’t even properly formed until the age of 2! 2/3 of the immune system is located in the digestive tract. This is why nursing is so important to their immune system formation.

Vaccines should not even be started until the age of 2 and then they should be started 1 at a time. Most people also don’t understand how many vaccines are tested and it’s not until X amount of children react, die or become injured, that they re-formulate the vaccine or take it off the market. Most people don’t know that there is a fund of millions of dollars set aside by the government solely for Vaccine Injuired Children!

Parents need to research exactly how vaccines work inside the body, what they do to our immune system and what ingredients are actually in vaccines. Too much focus was on Mercury in vaccines, but what parents need to undertsand is there are hundreds of ingredients which make up vaccines. Remember, drug companies hit the lottery when they can come up with a vaccine! No, you don’t have to vaccinate to enter your child into school, every state has exemption policies. Vaccines=Big Money!!!

I have 2 children, for the record, who have never been vaccinated. My 8-1/2 year old is the only child in her class each year in school every day because she doesn’t get sick! She’s never even had antibiotics. My son, is also never sick, and by the nature of having Down Syndrome, he’s defied all of the odds! I am personally not against vaccines either. However, based on what I know, I would not vaccinate until I felt it is 100% necessary. My children are both in private schools and have regular pediatricians who fully support my decision not to vaccinate and have never questioned it or given me a hard time.

There is so much information on vaccines, I really think that the only way to really learn about what they do, is to read about them. A great website with tons of information is called,

Many people think your child will “catch” one of these diseases or illnesses if you don’t vaccinate. That isn’t the case. Most of what they vaccinate for are mild childhood illnesses. Merck stands to make BILLIONS of dollars if they mandate the Gardisil vaccine. They’ve invested MILLIONS into the commercials we all see every day. They’re trying to convince you that a relatively harmless virus that most women catch and get rid of on their own without ever knowing they had it, is going to give you cancer. Only 10% of the viruses can actually lead to cancer and even then, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. The catch is though, that Gardisil only prevents a FEW forms of the virus, not ALL of the forms! However, what they don’t tell you is that 95% of the time, women get over the virus, even if they have it! Now they are trying to tout it as an “anti cancer” vaccine, when it’s the furthest thing from that. Just read. Read. READ! Don’t assume the FDA, CDC and the USDA are all looking out for our best interest! They are all FOR Profit institutions! That allow chemicals in our foods, toxins in our products and posions in drugs!

Maribeth on

Hi, I watch a tv interview with Jenny McCarthy about her son having autism. I have a 4 year old son and had him checked for autism 3 times and found that I could not get a clear answer to it. Finally I was told that if he has it, he is in the 2-3 percental for what is called PDD – Pervasive Development Disorder that can be turned around through speech therapy and developmental therapy. But in going through this ordeal, I learned statistics that signs of autism in children are 1 to 166 ratio – which seems overwhelming. But I also talked with 2 mothers who children were normal and acted normal until they were given immunizations. They spoke, had eye contact and acted fine. After they had certain immunizations there children developed signs of autism – servere signs. In fact one mother told me that one immunization was taken off the market in 2003. I am not sure of the validity of this statement, but I also talked with other moms at autism centers saying they same thing, that there child developed signs of autism after immunizations and she could not afford the medication to reverse the symptoms. I was wondering if my child had this problem, but his signs were not severe enough. This is my observation and also 2 preschools that my son attends. One of the signs of this PDD in 20 percent of the children is counting at an early age. My son was capable of counting past 20 and putting all the pieces of an alphabet puzzel back correctly at age 2 and 3 months. At 3 could tell me all 9 planets, say the entire alphabet by letter and associate a word for that letter. At 4 can spell 3 and 4 letter words, write the entire alphabet and do beginning basic math. Also my child is very athletic and can climb anything. He can become very upset if he cannot master what he is doing and succeed at it. Right now my son goes to preschool 5 days a week because he likes to learn. He goes 2 days at one preschool and 3 days at another with a speech therapist. Both preschool teachers and my speech therapist have told me my son is the only 4 year old in 2 schools that can spell. Also, just so you know, he barely spoke until he turned 4 and started talking in almost full sentences. He always knew you were talking to him, but did not give very good eye contact but if asked a different way or I asked in a manner to throw him off guard he would react – basically saying something I knew he wouldn’t be able not to react to or ignor. Now, my physician is even saying he may have been misdiagnosed. The reason I am sending this email is not to glorify my child, but when Jenny McCarthy made a comment about it’s a mothers instinct, I understand that statement very well. When you interact with your child daily you know the patterns and behaviors of them. Like the other moms said, my child was normal until after they had an immunization and then started having signs of autism, which can possibly be controled by medication and diet. I have also read books on gifted children. It is hard to determine at a very early age, like age 1-5. In fact they say you have to wait until an IQ test to even see if they have the potential. I do not mistake my son wanting and absorbing learning by saying he has autism. In fact if my child wants to learn I definitely am not going to stop him. I did however have to work through him becoming very frustrated when he could not figure something out, that usually lasted no more that 5 minutes. I would have to focus his attention on something else. Also, I fell victim to something else – the system. My son was 2 when he was not showing signs of speech. I took him to my physician who had me take him to Children’s Hospital to have him evaluated. At Children’s they stated that it was to early to determine any sign of autism until 3 years, so I was to have a speech therapist and a developmental therapist work with him. After his 3rd birthday he will be evaluated again. At 2 years and 6 months my speech therapist insisted that he be evaluated again so she could do her job better. At Children’s, the policy is that if the speech therapist wants this evaluation moved up that they need to put in writing why she needs this done. I went through with the evaluation to find that the speech therapist wrote my son has distinct signs of PDD and has “meltdown” – a term associated with autism. Also, the group that prescribes autism is psychiatry. I was extremely upset with finding out my speech therapist can write a report about my child and elude to behavior of PDD and not be a prescribing physician. This is why I had my child evaluated by other groups, which by the way gave very different evaluations of my son. And also taught me more about terminology used in dealing with autism and the behavior associated with that terminology. After this experience, I firmly believe in second opinions now. If the information they are telling me is the same than it is more valid for me. Also, leave the diagnosing to the doctors. I feel for the moms out there who have children with any form of autism. After being told your child could have autism is a heart wrenching feeling. I especially feel for those who have seen dramatic differences with there children after having been told this. When trying to find out exactly what autism was and how he got a problem like this was near impossible. Finding answers to the origins of autisn is very hard to come by. I asked if this could be genetic. Plus I was told this has to be diagnosed through psychiatry. I was horrified to take my 2 year old to a psychiatrist. Now I am curious if they diagnose possible giftedness in the same manner as autism. And if not, why?

Karen Cochrane on

Like any neurological condition, autism is
extremely complex and does not have one
simple cause. is a very informative
website and helped me gain a greater
understanding of this condition.

Michael Young on

As a parent of two autisic children I was insulted at Oprah’s lack of research as to the validity of her guest’s knowledge on the subject matter. My children are TRULY autistic as officially diagnosed by Dr. Edward Ritvo (Professor Emeritus, UCLA and known worldwide as the Father of Austism). His textbooks are used in all colleges re: this subject matter. Jenny McCarthy is an absolute nutcase! She has NO CLUE as to what Autism is all about or the possible causes. The symptoms her son displayed were plainly not autistic, but those of epilepsy! I’ve been witness to both for many years and there’s a huge difference! Come on Oprah! With all that you can afford your research team has to be a lot better at booking more intelligent and appropriate guests for your show!

Meagan Jeffrey on

I think Jenny is not only funny but a very smart and loving woman. I have just recently found out that my son who is 2 in December may have autism, and I was devistated. I knew there was something “worng” and different about my son, but when I saw Jenny on tv talking about her son and the signs that he showed, I knew that my son was showing the same signs! I have read her blogs and am watching for her book ‘Louder than words,’ so I can read more up on the subject. I have taken books on autism out from the library and read as much as I can. Like Jenny, I want to do what is best for my son, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for showing me the direction to go for healing my son! THANK YOU JENNY!!

Deanna on

Thank you to L.Noelle for such a great post.

Tami Rasel on

I saw Jenny and Hollie on Oprah. I was glad she made the comments she did about the association between immunizations and Autism. Her comment to the CDC who claimed there is no science to back that up and she said “my science is at home, his name is Evan.” wow….Here is some more science. I live in Pennsylvania near the Amish. They do not immunize their children…I have never seen an Amish child with Autism, and I’m willing to bet their are non!

j.brown on

I’m really impressed with who she’s become.

sarah mensah on

Hi Jenny,

My name is Sarah Mensah and I’m the senior Vice President of Sales for the Portland Trail Blazers. When I read your book I had to stop several times to stop sobbing. Our experiences are so similar. My dear little boy who is the light of my life “Davis” also was diagnosed with Autism at age 2. It also led to a very painful divorce. I also have an extremly high profile job and have had to deal with a difficult travel schedule. I also instituted nearly every single one of the interventions that you mentioned in your book. I wanted to let you know we are looking at doing an Autism Awareness night here in Portland at a game and as we were brainstorming we disscused the viability of bringing you to town to speak to our families and be featured at a nationally televised game. Let me know if this is something you’d be remotely interested in. I know you are extremely busy but I also know how committed you are to this cause. I can be reached via e-mail at

Thanks in advance for your consideration!