Jenny McCarthy Joins the 'Girls Team' As a Passionate Parent

04/03/2009 at 09:00 AM ET
Courtesy Shape

Far before giving birth to her first child and becoming an advocate for autism, the name Jenny McCarthy conjured a completely different image in the mind. Shortly after Jenny welcomed her son Evan Joseph in 2002, the new mom “dialed back the whole sex kitten thing,” and eventually found herself a part of “the girls team,” as she was cheered on by a new audience: fellow parents. “When I went public about his autism, I gained credibility as a passionate mom,” she tells the April issue of Shape magazine.

That same passion, says Jenny, was the motivation behind her ultimate decision to forego her usual “good girl and rules follower” tendencies and dig deeper for answers to her son’s illness. “When the doctor said there was no hope, I decided to listen to myself, rather than an authority figure, for once,” she shares. Certain that with her help Evan “would be able to fight this thing,” Jenny recalls her breaking point after witnessing her baby boy suffer a seizure and quickly slip into cardiac arrest.

For Jenny, the possibility of losing her son as a result of his attacks as a baby is all too real. “The only difference between Evan and Jett Travolta (whose family hasn’t responded to claims that he had autism) is that we were able to revive Evan,” she says.

While her devotion to the cause has stirred the pot more than once in the media, Jenny’s message to the naysayers is simple: she will not be defeated! “I just want to continue to tell my story and to teach parents,” she explains.

“Anyone who wants to listen, great, and anyone who doesn’t, fine. That’s how I move forward.”

In her quest to cure her son from autism, Jenny has been open about the drastic changes — eliminating gluten and dairy — she has made to Evan’s diet, all in an effort to improve his symptoms. In addition to the strict regimen working wonders for her little boy, Jenny — who since follows the same diet plan — shares that she has watched her extra pregnancy pounds melt off! After gaining far more weight than she had imagined during the nine-month stretch, the combination of Weight Watchers matched with her new approach to eating healthy left the former model thrilled. “I thought I might be 170 when I left the hospital [after giving birth], but no, I was 200!” she reveals.

Evan is Jenny’s son with her ex-husband John Asher.

Source: Shape; April issue

— Anya

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Jana on

I applaud Jenny McCarthy for speaking out about the struggles she and Evan have gone through, but autism cannot be cured. Once your child is given that diagnosis, he or she will have it for their entire life. When my son was diagnosed, I read everything labeled “autism.” More information should certainly be given, and the warning signs shared for an early diagnosis but again, autism cannot be cured.

Opinion on

I always find it annoying when another parent tells someone that NOTHING can be done to help his/her child. Show me a MOTHER who believes NOTHING can be done to help her child.

While not everyone believes everything JM says, certainly SOME children will show improvement in their symptoms of variety all kinds of diseases with a change in diet and the use of herbs. (Has JM ever stated that she wished she had breast fed her son? Just wondering?)

As far as medical knowledge improving with time, try and remember that doctors used to deliver babies after touching a cadaver WITHOUT washing their hands.

Jenifer on

As the parent of a child with autism, it offends me that JM continues to perpetuate the myth that autism can be cured. Or that the majority of parents what their child cured. My son is perfect as he is — he does not need to be cured and he is not damaged.

Maureen on

I also think Jenny is wrong to perpetuate the myth that autism can be cured. Children with autism can be helped but not cured. She’s doing a great disservice by spreading her false message. I think it’s great that she advocates for autism but she should keep it real.

Patrice on

While my heart goes out to any parent of a child dealing with health issues, I believe that Jenny and other parents who speak out against the evils of vaccines are playing a dangerous game. Just recently in my home state, there have been a handful of breakouts of measles and TB. It is so scary to think that these diseases are making a comback. Although Autism is a frightening prospect, the fact remians that there has been NO hard scientific evidence that proves vaccines are any more the cause for this disorder than any other possible outside contributers. I think we all need to remember that it was not all that many years ago that hundreds of thousands of people (many of them children) were DYING everyday from these diseases. Do we really want them back? No vaccinations in school (even if it is only a handful of children) put EVERYONE at risk.

Janey on

I thought Autism was genetic?

Natasha on

Unless she knew the Travolta’s and/or Jett personally, she shouldn’t be commenting about his condition.

Sam on

I think Jenny is just talking about her own experience and what has worked for her son. There’s no need to get offended or angry about that. What works for one person might not work for another. I think she would be doing a greater disservice by keeping her mouth shut and not telling people how Evan has dealt with his autism.

mj on

I personally like Jenny McCarthy…and while I do not necessarily agree with everything she has to say, I stand by the fact that she gets people thinking. I have a few questions for the moms that say “autism can’t be cured”. While I personally do not like to use the term ‘cured’…what is the reason behind dismissing the fact that many children w/ ASD…diagnosed at a young age and whom have undergone INTENSIVE Early Invervention…have gone on to no longer have as many symptoms of Autism? I mean it is a spectrum disorder…it does not exhibit itself in all children affected, the very same way. There is a reason that EARLY INTENSIVE INTERVENTION is pounded into our heads when that diagnosis is handed to our children….Yes, I have a son w/ Autism (diagnosed at age 2).
I really am just curious what the reason behind it is and DO NOT mean to imply any disrespect. We should be happy to hear of children making such great progress.🙂

Ps. Janey…Autism has not been proven to be genetic, but multiple children that are diagnosed in one family certainly makes you think.

Linda on

I just want to thank Jenny for telling her story. Anyone that thinks that autism can be cured, well no, not yet. That is why we have to work together to find a cure.
My son was never diagnosed by a doctor, but we knew because my husbands brother is severely autistic.
My son went to school and they knew. They worked with him and brought him back to us.
I am having a benefit in May to make some money for a local organization. I think we all need to start in our own neighborhoods and schools. Autism cannot be cured yet, but early intervention is a key in bringing your child back to you.

CelebBabyLover on

Jenifer- Amen! I do not have a child on the Autism specturm, but I AM on the spectrum myself. I know that ASDs cannot be cured, nor do I wish I could be cured! I also don’t see myself as “damaged” or “suffering” in any way. It also infuriates me when people, such as the writer of this article (I’m not going to blame CBB, as I have no idea whether the wording in this article is theirs or Shape’s), refer to Autism and ASDs as an “illness” or “diease”.

I don’t see myself as sick, and I don’t appreciate people basically referring to me as such. Autism is no more an “illness” than Cerebral Palsy or Down Syndrome (both of which, like Autism, can cause severe physical symptoms, even including, in the case of Down Syndrome, heart defects) are.

Janey- I certainly believe it is. One of my parents, while not techincally on the spectrum, shows some “Autistic traits”, as they are called in the Autism community. Therefore, I strongly believe that my Autism was caused by the very same thing that gave me life in the first place: my parents’ genes.

chatteyone on

I’m so frustrated with Jenny and her “cured autism” movement! My son has autism, and it’s all-too-true that no one “recovers” from autism. They merely “improve” with therapies. She’s being an irresponsible spokesperson, to give parents false hope, and she really needs to stop! To those with autism and autistic children- bless you! What a struggle we have! To those who believe that there is a “cure” and that autism “goes away-” please know the FACTS!!!

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