Update September 21st: Photos, quotations, and book excerpts added. Check out this week’s People for the full excerpt.
Originally posted September 19th: Actress Jenny McCarthy, 34, and her son Evan Joseph, 5, appear on the cover of People magazine this week in promotion of her new book, Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism, to discuss their story, and to promote awareness of the autistic spectrum.
Click below for all the photos and interview highlights.
On Evan’s other signs of autism: He had a fascination withdoor hinges — I told people he was going to be a mechanic. At themall, he and I had to ride the escalators 100 times. And my friendswere amazed that he could sing an entire Dave Matthews song and notmiss a word. I thought I’d given birth to somewhat of a genius. But hehad very little ‘original’ speech.
On putting on a brave face in public: After the diagnosis, I couldn’t lie in bed and cry. Instead, I had to promote my book, Baby Laughs.Yes, I had to do a week of comedy about my baby, to sell this book, soI could pay for his autism. I know people like to think celebrities areimmune from problems. Don’t let designer shoes fool you. At Live withRegis and Kelly, Kelly said, ‘How’s your baby boy doing?’ It made mewant to cry, but I couldn’t. ‘Really great!’ I replied. I immediatelywent into a joke.
On the end of her marriage: Johnwas starting to get angry at me because he felt ignored. The onlyfantasies I wanted to imagine were Evan being able to say, ‘I love you,Mommy.’ I didn’t care if I never had sex again.
John eventually moved out at Jenny’s request.
AsJohn packed up, I looked at Evan. It was the only moment I was actuallygrateful for autism. Even when John said, ‘Daddy’s moving into adifferent house,’ Evan just stared off.
On in-home therapy:After Evan completed the UCLA program, Jenny sought in-home treatment,the average cost of which was $75 an hour, adding up to $2,250 a week.When she was placed on a yearlong waiting list for state funding, theactress decided to pay for it herself.
Isank into my chair. I had taken out a second loan on my house, so Icould cover it for now. When I talked to other families, the story wasthe same: They’d refinanced their house or borrowed money. Just know ifI ever come out with my own dumb perfume line, this is why.
On her newly public role: I don’t want to come across like a preacher. All I’m doing is showing there are things you can do to ease autism.
On Evan: At 3 he had the skills of a 1-year-old. [Now] people are shocked when they meet him.
Jenny had mentioned on Oprah that she temporarily broke up with Jim Carrey when Evan’s condition started worsening again. She recalls,
Inthe following weeks, Evan was starting to act a little more kooky. Hehad developed a bad obsessive-compulsive disorder that experts sayhappens with a lot of autistic children. One day, he wouldn’t stopscreaming until all the doors in the house were closed. I called myagents and told them I would be taking some time off. Until I could getEvan healthy again, I couldn’t play mom and actress. Sadly, I also knewI couldn’t play girlfriend.
Tocombat the OCD tendencies, doctors prescribed antifungal drugs toremove yeast from Evan’s intestines and he started to recover soonafterwards.
Two weeks intothis, I was watching Sponge Bob with Evan, when the most amazing thinghappened. He giggled at a joke. My body went into shock. Then ithappened again. I started screaming. It was such an abstract joke thatI knew it meant he was no longer in a confused daze, but was growingmentally and emotionally.
Evan’s therapist couldn’t believe the burst ofdevelopment. He was social and for the first time wanted hugs fromMama! Words can’t describe the feeling of your baby wanting to be heldafter years of rejection.
On Evan’s progress: Notlong later, a therapist came over to evaluate Evan to see if he stillqualified for state-funding and was astounded by his progress. Before abowl of airplanes and a bowl of animals, she asked Evan where a trainwould go. He placed it in the bowl of vehicles and said,
Iwent on an airplane. I went to Canada and saw deer and Santa. Then wewent in Mama’s trailer and I played with the fans and ate chips whileMama worked.
The woman slowly looked up at me and said, ‘What’s going on?’
Evan still sporadically repeats a few words and flaps his arms, but it is clear he has made tremendous strides.
Forthe most part, you would never be able to pick him out of a crowd asbeing a little unique. He is now 5, and since he is able to completelycommunicate, I ask him questions I so badly wanted the answers to. WhenI asked him why he flapped his arms, he replied, ‘Because I get SOEXCITED, and then I fly just like the angels do.’
How can I argue with that?
On mothers with children with autism: There’s a special place in heaven for mothers with autistic children. And I’m going to be the first one to buy them a drink.
On Jim Carrey: [Wehave a] beautiful relationship — and I’m glad to say there are threeof us in it. Jim reacted better than anyone ever did. He was intrigued.He asked questions. Beyond doubt it was written in the stars that Jimand Evan were a pair. He’s actually helped Evan get past some obstaclesI couldn’t. I sometimes call him the autism whisperer. He speaks alanguage Evan understands, and Evan feels safe with him.
On having more children: Let me take a drink ofwater on this. I’m done having children. I always thought I’d have atleast four or five. But I got my ass kicked.
Source: People; People, October 1 issue, pg 120-129