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Jenny McCarthy continues her battle against autism

10/17/2007 at 01:21 PM ET

70611j10_mccarthey_b_gr_01_cbbJenny McCarthy has been extremely vocal since learning that her son, Evan Joseph, 5, has the brain development disorder autism. The actress has written a book, Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism, joined forces with Talk About Curing Autism and not to mention numerous public appearances to let her voice be known.

Posh Cravings recently sat down with Jenny to discuss her son, what she is doing to help battle this disorder and her book.

Click below to read about Jenny’s fight against autism and how Evan is doing.

Jenny had no idea that her son was battling autism, but decided to go with her "mommy instinct" and research other symptoms that he was having.

The 34-year-old mother has used her voice to try to make a difference in regards to autism and she is not giving up — in fact, she has more planned.

I have a think-tank meeting [Defeat Autism Now group conference] coming up with all the scientists and the doctors that have been healing these kids . . . And we got the AAP [American Academy of Pediatrics] to come for one of the days, so calling them worked!

With all of her advocacy, sometimes Jenny has to be away from Evan. For her recent press tour she was away from him for a week, and Evan was not a happy little boy.

Yeah, you know I’ve been so involved in Evan’s healing and being here for Evan that it’s kind of funny, that when I came home from this press tour, the first thing he said to me was, “I hate you and I want a new mom that can stay home with me.”

And while a statement like that may hurt most mothers, Jenny doesn’t mind.  In fact, it makes her feel good, because Evan is having normal reactions like any five-year-old.

I know! And the first thing I said [to myself] was “That was a great typical response.” And then I said, “Someday you are going to realize what Mommy did this week and forgive me.”

No matter what the future holds for Jenny and Evan, the proud mom is never going to stop fighting the battle against autism.

You know that God does not give you what you can’t handle. I knew I’ve always been a strong, pick-myself-up-off-the-ground kind of girl, no matter what. When it happened to me I said, “Yeah, this is not the type of motherhood that I expected, but this is the motherhood that I’ve been given. So I am not going to cry and say ‘Why?’ or ‘What if?’ I am going to move forward, forward, forward.” That is always the only option.

Jenny’s role as a proud mother shines through when she speaks about Evan and how much he has accomplished — including school.

He’s in Pre-K. I took him out of school for a year of healing when I was de-toxing [Evan], so he had missed a year of social development. But now he’s back in and perfectly on target with kids his age in school now.

To read the entire interview, be sure to visit Posh Cravings.

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Showing 24 comments

Shelby on

I respect the fact that Jenny is informing parents about autism, and that she is taking the steps to heal him. However, with that said I hate the fact that she is advertising for DAN! (Defeat Autism Now). This group is a bunch of crooks and scam artists (the majority although yes maybe a few are in for good reasons). I know this through personal experience because a family i’ve worked for for 6 years have been using this organization to treat their son’s autism. 4 years after they began, they have spent over $150,000 on ridiculous treatments that make no sense whatsoever! Their son is doing wonderfully but a lot of it is diet (which I believe in) as well as continued therapy. The fact that Jenny put Evan through chelation therapy by the advice of a DAN! doctor is plain disheartening. One DAN! doctor performing chelation therapy killed 2 young boys in his office, yet he is still recognized as a doctor by their institution. By the way, it only takes 8 hours at a DAN! conference to become a practicing and recognized DAN! doctor. There is my vent thank you, so if anyone here is thinking of a contacting a DAN! doctor please do your research or feel free to email me. Again, I applaud Jenny for wanting what’s best for her child.

Nausicaa on

Shelby – that’s all very frightening. Jenny has her heart in the right place, but she’s deluding herself with obsessively seeking a cure for autism where there is none. At best Evan can recover and be high-functioning, but there’s no real cure. Obviously this kind of thing is easy to exploit, given all the millions of desperate parents who want to believe there’s a cure. Shouldn’t Jenny be aware that children have died at the hands of DAN? This is all very sad. It’s great that Jenny is spreading the word that autism is not hopeless, but she’s taking it way too far.

Colleen on

I applaud Jenny as well on getting the message out about Autism, but I agree with the above poster. I have heard numerous items about DAN being a scam. I find it a little unsettling that Jenny is promoting this organization, as well as how she talks about “de-toxifying” her son. I would also like to mention that there is NO cure for autism. Autism is not ever healed, thought it may be dealt with and symptoms diminished.

Preesi on

Shelby Said:
“4 years after they began, they have spent over $150,000 on ridiculous treatments that make no sense whatsoever! Their son is doing wonderfully but a lot of it is diet (which I believe in) as well as continued therapy.”

Its the old, “We will give you these pills, potions and treatments and YEARS later we will claim and attribute success to ourselves even though the patient got better all by himself with age.”

Preesi on

Colleen and Shelby?
On Larry King Live Jenny actually said her son was no longer autistic.

KING: Are you saying he’s not autistic anymore?

MCCARTHY: That’s right.

Shes really going overboard with her supermommy ego. She needs to slow down and not say anything in public for awhile. Shes not an expert.
Shes going to get herself in trouble.

Maya on

I don’t understand her use of the word healing. There are treatments for autism that can bring about a lot of improvement and even alleviation of *some* symptoms, but it’s not a disorder that be just “healed” away.

Also, I hope that her son does someday understand what she is doing, as she said. It must be so hard for him for her to be away!!!

Gabbie13 on

I have to agree with the other posters. I am truely appriciative of Jenny for spreading the word and being an advocate for autism. Though, I feel she may mislead parents at the same time by talking about the “cure”. As other posters stated, there is no “cure” for autism, just ways to work with children and make life for them and thier families more livable. I just hope that there isn’t false hope for her (she may not realize there is no cure as other parents don’t realize, but hear it from others and believe what they hear) and other families who look up to her since she is a celebrity.

cjbate on

DAN is legitimate. My son has made progress and it coincided with GFCF, antifungal therapy and Methyl B12. He improved within days on all beginning these interventions…not over years and years or whatever. Autism is a disorder of the body, including the immune system and the gut, that affects the brain. If the diet works, then that means this is a treatable condition. I have no idea what someone could spend $150k on, but we have not even spent a fraction of that. Many kids are recovered. I highly recommend GFCF and DAN. BTW she does not say cure, she says recover.

LAMom on

I know parents of kids who have recovered from autism using DAN! treatments such as dietary intervention, nutritional supplements, digestive enzymes, chelation, and treatment for yeast and viral infection.

Autism is not only a brain disorder; it involves the digestive and immune systems and biochemistry. Most likely it involves genetic susceptibility to injury from environmental toxins such as mercury.

Just because a doctor signs on to the DAN! ways of treating autism, that does not necessarily mean that doctor is competant or ethical, just like not all cardiologists or pediatricians or any other kind of doctor are necessarily competent or ethical. But the doctors and scientists who are running the DAN! group are wonderful, intelligent, competant people at the forefront of a new understanding of causes and treatments for autism.

This is new science and it is often difficult to tell what will work for a particular child. Parents must research, read books, attend conferences, speak with other parents, and observe their own children to try to make the best decisions possible. It is often a trial and error process. There is no need to spend $150,000. The most expensive treatment out there is hyperbaric oxygen, which is quite pricey, but most of the other treatments are not so expensive.

A child died from chelation because the doctor used the wrong chemical by accident, and he gave it in an IV push which is a very quick dose. The chemical given to that child depleted calcium resulting in heart failure. Many children have been treated safely and effectively using other forms of chelation. There is considerable evidence that autism can be caused by low level exposure to mercury, and in those cases chelation is an effective treatment.

I attended the DAN! conference on Sunday Oct. 14 and it was wonderful. Learn more about it before passing judgement. Go to http://www.autism.com, http://www.tacanow.com, http://www.autismndi.com, and http://www.generationrescue.org.

I commend Jenny McCarthy for her wonderful wonderful work publicizing this very important and valuable information!

A person with ASD on

As a person who has an Autism spectrum disorder, I agree with the posters who have mentioned that there is no cure for Autism or Autism spectrum disorders. No, Jenny did not say anything about a cure directly, but, IMO, she made it sound an awful lot like she is searching for “the cure” for Autism.

Also, in response to cjbate- Autism is a MENTAL disorder, not a phyiscal disorder. In otherwords, it is a disorder of the brain, not the body. Except maybe for a few rare cases, it does not have any adverse effects on the gut or immune system. For example, I don’t suffer from any sort of gut problems, and I rarely get sick (in otherwords, my immune system obviously functions just fine).

All of that said, I don’t like how it was stated that (and I realize that it was probably Posh Cravings, not CBB, who was responsible!) Jenny “had no idea that her son was suffering from Autism”. Like I said before, I have an Autism spectrum disorder myself. However, I have never once thought of myself as “suffering” from it. It can be very difficult at times, yes, but it is not something that I “suffer” from.

THodson on

As a parent who has “fought” autism for close to 15 years, I am more convinced than ever that this is a VERY TREATABLE condition. To argue whether it is a mental or physical disorder is useless seeing as mental health effect physical health and vice versa! The mind and body are one entity — not two! We have tried everything from Diet, supplements, enzymes, secretin, ABA, epsom salt baths — pretty much everything out there. The fact that all of them have helped to varying degrees shows that they are worth trying! The fact that my daughter also suffers from severe malabsorption and maldigestion, and her intestines are loaded with yeast is proof that these treatments are based on what is going on with the VAST majority of these kids! We are under the care of an EXCELLENT DAN physician who works with us and tries her best to systematically treat our child with testing covered by our insurance. I apprecaite the post from the person who has autism but not the physical problems that Jenny’s child and others face. We do not know what exactly causes it — so it could be caused by many different factors. To dismiss biological treatments for these kids is WRONG — they are working, and kids are recovering, and to both them and their parents, any improvement in their ability to cope with the more dibilating aspects of this condition are WELL WORTH it!!! Thank you Jenny!

Shelby on

Let it be known that I AM informed. For the past 6 years I’ve been watching a family who has been under the care of a DAN! physican for 4 years of that. Plain and simple, autism is NOT curable, yes you may believe it is treatable but NOT curable. If we still do not know what causes autism how can you believe we’ve already found the cure? Treating your child is often times not cheap or covered by insurance. I’ve been to many doctor appts, with this family and watched their children for entire weekends like they flew all over to attend conferences. Only to come home with a “new” treatment that would be the LAST thing that would heal his gut. Well guess what!? That was 14 treatments ago and they are still looking and trying every new thing out there. Embrace your children people. Yes we all want them to be “normal” but embrace their characteristics. I’ve learned more from this little boy, while his mother spends more time worrying about his supplement times. Do you know how embarassing it has become for me and this little boy? We cannot go anywhere without a cooler filled with special products and I have to ask him to leave a museum just so I can take him to the car to provide him all these ridiculous supplements. No 7 year old should be having to injest over 15-20 supplements/pills a day…talk about “treating” the gut. His entire life is turned upside down all because of these treatments. He cannot be anywhere around scents, even my deodarant or laundry detergent for fear it will set off all they’re worked for. His lunches have to be brought to school with all organic, EXPENSIVE, foods and if there is a birthday party he can’t have the cake. His own birthday party had a giant cake that he couldn’t have because it had dairy and sugar in it. He had a plain old organic muffin with a candle. All in all, I’ve done enough of my research on DAN and I completly disagree with alot of the information and false hope they give to parents. You just even said although one kid died you put your child through chelation. Chelation is a therapy used for adults with heart conditions, and one child dying from it is one too many to put my child anywhere near a DAN! doctor. Plain and simple, do what you believe, but live with the decisions you’re making.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=bZJ8vr5m8BQ

http://www.autism-watch.org/about/bio2.shtml

^^great article.

Linda on

it seems to me that people whose children are diagnosed with autism are so desperate for a reason and a cure, that they’ll start believing things that aren’t logical or scientifically sound. silly things like vaccines are dangerous and chelation therapy is can cure autisitic kids. :/

Cynthia on

My son was diagnosed when he was 3 with moderate autism. He’s 5 now and is doing great. I have him in a normal class were he attends speech therapy with his school a wonderful behavior specialist that has helped us tremendously, and he will be starting occupational therapy very soon. I don’t know much about DAN..And every parent has a different way of treating their children but I have found my way very helpful to my son and my family. I think it’s very important to have alot of rules and discipline and always have your children in sports events anything that interest them to work out all that energy they carry, but every child is different and in my case I would not give my son any medication. I treat my son very equal like any other normal kid. He does have dairy products not alot but some I’m very discipline with his meals and he is only allowed a certain amount of sugar or dairy products a day, because I have noticed that with dairy products he does get very energetic.
Look all I’m saying is these kids are great kids “Amazing” is the word, very intelligent and caring. It’s hard and there might not be a cure for autism, but there is help. Us as parents is our responsibility to help our kids with these disorders to over come and succeed in life for the best of them, that’s the “cure”.

LAMom on

Shelby, you say, “Their son is doing wonderfully.” Maybe all this stuff that you think is so crazy has helped him. Also, you can’t judge the whole DAN! movement by one family.

Linda, you say, “it seems to me that people whose children are diagnosed with autism are so desperate for a reason and a cure, that they’ll start believing things that aren’t logical or scientifically sound. silly things like vaccines are dangerous and chelation therapy is can cure autisitic kids.” The people I know who believe these things don’t believe them because they are desperate. They believe in chelation because they have seen chelation make dramatic positive changes in their children. They believe vaccines do harm because they saw their children react to vaccines with high fever, seizures, screaming all night, and/or lethargy, and then descend into autism.

A Person With ASD, you say that “I have never once thought of myself as “suffering” from it. It can be very difficult at times, yes, but it is not something that I “suffer” from.” Clearly, if you can write well and don’t suffer from GI and immune system disorders, you are not suffering like some kids with autism I know, who cannot learn to read and write and speak in full sentences and/or who have chronic allergies and/or inflammatory bowel disorders. Please don’t criticize parents for trying to help their suffering children and for recognizing their children’s suffering.

Nausicaa, you say that Jenny is “deluding herself”. She is out there because she has seen her son get a lot better. Have you read her book? Do you know what she went through and how much better things are now? She is speaking from real experience, not delusions.

I do not believe there is or will be A single cure for autism. Autism is complex and multifactorial. The parents I know whose children have gotten a lot better have attacked autism from many angles, and little by little have restored balance to their children’s bodies and brains.

Sandi on

As a wife and mother, I am surrounded by ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorders)in my life.
Both my husband and my 15 yr old son are dxed with Aspergers Disorder and I have a 4 yr old who is still questionably on the spectrum.
I have been advocating for my teen since his dx in 3rd grade, even longer when he was initially thought to have simply audio processing delays.
I am always researching and reading – to better educate myself of the possiblilities out there.
I was given a number to contact a local DAN physician regarding a revealing discovery after some dental work that my teen had – and an exposure to nitrous oxide, which for 48 hours left my son acting and functioning for the 1st time in his life – as a neuro typical teen.(He is extremely high functioning, main streamed, bright and handsome – but has many social and communication issues that cause him much anxiety on a daily basis.)
They discussed many ideas and plans – to a costly sum of money that would not be covered by our insurance.
The physician was quick to say in a condescending tone ‘I don’t accept medical insurance.’ WTH?!?!?
What kind of reputable doctor says this to a prospective patient?
I explained that we were a one income family (I am on disability and my husband works as a retail cashier)and that we could not afford the fee’s he was discussing.
He had sounded so determined to help my son during our conversation, that I thought there was something we could work out.
Once he heard that we could not afford the fee’s – even in payments – his tone changed and he became dismissive and abruptly ended the conversation.
I was shocked!
I had heard such wonderful things about this doctor. I would NEVER have thought that finances would have stood in the way of him treating/seeing my son!
Since then I avoid the DAN physicians – and supporters, because anyone else I spoke to afterwards, made me feel inadequate, because I wasn’t willing to rack up thousands of $ of expenses.
My son is doing very well in high school and is a great kid.
He has finally opened up socially and started making friends for the first time in his life!
I would love to see him not have to be inhibited or anxious – to be able to think, respond and speak as quick as the next person.
Yet – even though research has found a difference in the physical width of the brain stem of those with ASD’s and neurotypical folks – I am not so sure I would want to ‘cure’ him.
Only the symptoms that make life unbearable at times for him.
Every other part of his unique and special aspects of his personality – I wouldn’t change for all the money in the world.

Sharona on

My son was dignosed a year ago, and if I had listened to my pediatrician, the neurologist and the ENT I was seeing, then my son would still be “just a late talker”. He lost 8 valuable months of treatment because his Dr’s did not listen to me. The mainstream medical community knows very little about autism, and the “powers that be” would like us to believe that autism can only be treated with behavioral therapy and prescription drugs. So is it any wonder that so many parents like me lose faith in conventional medicine?

Look at the lab results our kids get and you will see that there are real deficiencies that need to be addressed. And call me silly but I would rather try vitamins and dietary intervention than toxic drugs like Risperidal and Ritalin. More aggressive treatments are available, and yes, you have to do your homework. There are treatments I will probably never try, but I can’t pass judgement on those parents who have severely affected, non-verbal kids, because I have never walked a day in their shoes.

Parents are “desperate” because their regular doctors refuse to listen, to take them seriously, to maybe admit that they *don’t* know everything.

Yes, there is no cure for autism, and no one ever said there was. Just because Jenny represents TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), everyone thinks she is talking about a “cure”, but even she says there is none, so lets not waste time arguing about that. We would like to find one, but until the medical commmunity gets on board, we will not even come close.

And until then, there are doctors (whose *own* kids have recovered & who have treated hundreds if not thousands who have recovered) who will try to help us make our kids’ days just a little bit better than they were yesterday. Shame on you who know nothing about having a child with autism (and no, working with one does not count), judging the choices and decisions of us who live with this tragic condition 24/7/365. Until you have experienced it “up close and personal”, you will never understand the hopes and dreams we have for our kids, and how unattainable they seem.

I for one am thankful that there are doctors and researchers who are willing to think “outside the box”. Just like any doctor, there are unethical ones out there. To lump every DAN! doctor into that category is irresponsible and uninformed. I am sorry if you have had a bad experience, but don’t accuse the Autism Research Institute and DAN! of being scam artists. That could not be farther from the truth.

Shelby on

In fact I even said in my first post…
“the majority although yes maybe a few are in for good reasons” and i even said do what you wish for your children but research it and as long as you have comfort in the treatments and what you’re doing to your children, don’t defend it.

My bad, he wasn’t my son. Too bad I work 5 years as their full time nanny everyday from 8-9 from before his diagnosis and after. I was just a part of that family so I really don’t appreciate that comment. I was there more than the parents on most days and helped the kids learn much of what they know today. Even their parents give me credit like a second parent. I was in the midst of the family and saw financies, expenses, lab tests, etc. Thanks though

Amy on

You have to keep in mind that you are reading interviews with Jenny McCarthy and they are only snippets of conversations, and they are alos the writer’s interpretations of what she said.

With that said I just finished reading Jenny’s book, “Louder Than Words” and let me tell you that she believes there is no “cure” for autism. However, she does believe in therapy, and healing a child. I have seen a lot of interviews with her and she makes it a point to say that she is not a Dr, is not saying that there is a cure, and just because something worked for her child does not mean that it will work for all children. All she is doing is sharing her experience in hopes of raising awareness for autism.

Autism rates are on the rise at an alarming rate, and that has to be blamed on something. We are all fooling ourselves if we can not see that all of the chemicals, additives, and crap that we subject our bodies to are not part of the problem. Some people choose to go the medical/drug route, while others prefer a more natural approach. People need to do what they feel comfortable with, but attacking Jenny McCarthy for her opinions is ridiculous. Go read her book first before you start making assumptions about what her true message is. Her heart is in the right place, and instead of us all wasting our time and energy fighting about our own personal opinions we should put our energy into fighting for our children.

TWW's Mom on

I just have to say to everyone that has posted thus far, I am very disapointed, to say the least, at all of the derogatory comments made in regards to treatment. As a mother of a child with Autism, I try whatever I can to try and make that one difference in his life that will help him become that person that is trapped inside. Whether it is biomedical, behavioral therapy, and any other modalities, I can not believe that any other parent would honestly post something derogatory about another parents desperate means to help their child. Again, as a parent of a beautiful child with Autism, I can say that I have tried the DAN protocol and I can see a difference with my son. Every child with Autism is different and who is anyone to say that what happens to my child or say Jenny’s child isn’t really happening. The reason they say that Autism is a spectrum disorder is that – it is a spectrum. So, what works for my child may not work for yours. But I would think, as a parent, that I would exhaust all means to help my son. It is so disheartening to listen to parents and/or “therapists” discuss vaccinations, environmental triggers, etc. Why harp on the cause when you are faced with the challenge – why not exhaust all of your energy on helping your child see the beautiful world through your eyes and bring him into our dynamic world – instead of keeping them trapped in the static world that so many of them live in. Just my 2 cents – but I BELIEVE that my son is on the road to “recovery” – “remediation” – or whatever you want to call it. Labeling is just that – a label – and I am here, on this earth, to “save” my son.

Lynne on

Since when is this a fact: ” The fact that Jenny put Evan through chelation therapy by the advice of a DAN! doctor is plain disheartening.”?

Jenny didn’t chelate her son. There is no mention of her doing chelation on her son in her book or in any interviews.

Where is the reference for “One DAN! doctor performing chelation therapy killed 2 young boys in his office, yet he is still recognized as a doctor by their institution.”?

Regarding, “so if anyone here is thinking of a contacting a DAN! doctor please do your research or feel free to email me.” For what? Unsubstantiated claims about DAN! and Jenny?

It’s fine if you or anyone else don’t agree that autism is treatable or with the interventions that Jenny used, but let’s stick with documented facts in the debate.

Autumn on

If any of Jenny’s theories on diets, vaccines, and weakened immune systems in reference to autism are true, then really why isn’t an infant’s immune system tested soon after birth to see if it is compromised whatsoever? (Like they do for PKU.) Why aren’t all immunizations mercury free, if that is part of the reason why some connect vaccinations to autism?

Since her son is now on a gluten & dairy free diet, did her pregnancy cravings for bread, as described in her book “Belly Laughs”, have adverse effects on her unborn son? (Can you jump to the conclusion then if you have cravings for bread, dairy products, and severe constipation during pregnancy, that it’s an indication your child could be autistic?)

Kerry on

Dear Shelby

I find your condemnation of the dietary and biomedical treatments for autism quite concerning. Whilst it is painful enough to find out your child has autism it is even more upsetting to watch them suffering, clearly in pain on a day to day basis and do nothing to try and help them. My son has autism and since I have found out I have put him on the GFCF diet and a nutritionist has advised me of beneficial vitamins and minerals for him. He has improved no end and is so much happier, full of energy and more responsive. Should that not be reason enough to pursue treatment. Surely the happiness of my child is important? Surely if he could choose he would rather not suffer the sensory difficulties that sometimes bother him. I’m sure he would also like to be able to play with the other kids as I often see him on the sidelines, not sure how to approach other children. Other times he is so out of it, that he doesn’t get even close. To suggest that pursuing a treatment for this disorder is anyway cruel and unaccepting of the situation is totally out of order.
My son has just had further tests which have identified heavy metal toxicity and deficiency of vitamin B12 – funny that, same old pattern – perhaps there could be a cure after all. Get your head out of the sand Shelby, these families need support not criticism.

Mary Ann Puckett on

I have a 27 year old son with Early Infantile Autism. I recently wrote a book to share information about services that families can apply for as well as nutritional and medical interventions that worked to help my son. My website is http://www.autismreality.com and the book is also on eBay and Amazon.com Please take a look.Sincerely, Mary Ann Puckett

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