If you have ever read any of Jenny's books it is apparent she is quite intelligent and significantly different from the spastic blond she portrayed on MTV's Singled Out (back in the day when MTV played music). Her writing is blunt (often times to the point of being crude...but it fits in this case), emotion-driven, and speaks to the core of every Mommy's heart. She chronicles her journey through her son's diagnosis of autism at the age of 2 1/2, conveying how incredibly frustrating and heart-breaking such a battle can be for a parent and a child.
An early diagnosis of autism is crucial because there is a limited amount of time in which a child with autism may be significantly helped (notice that I said "may"....not everyone responds to treatment, regardless of age or intervention level.). Jenny speaks directly about trying to pull her child "out of the window" by finding early aggressive treatment. Through tremendous amounts of research, Jenny finally found a combination of ABA therapy, diet, , and supplementation that has significantly helped her son.
Enough synopsis. Get the book. Read it. You will learn something.
The message of this book has stuck with me in the days since finishing it, mainly because I am quite interested in autism spectrum disorders and because I think we have an epidemic on our hands that is largely ignored by the medical community. I completed graduate school a little over six years ago with a degree in Clinical Child Psych. Guess how much of that time was spent discussing autism....about half a class period total. This was not because I was in a shady program (which I wasn't), it was because six years ago ADHD was the main thing on the radar and autism rates were still about 1 in 3000. Today they are 1 in 150. A school psychologist I worked with while teaching said that during her PhD work in the 1980's, her class was told they would likely never work with a child with autism because it was such a rare disorder. Today she finds herself bombarded with students with autism.
The main reason Jenny McCarthy's book really spoke to me was because she talked about healing her son's autism. Healing...not curing...people with autism is a powerful idea. Autism may be reversible in some kids, when treated early and aggressively (why it works with some and not others remains a mystery). For four years, I worked closely with three kids in particular who were labeled as having "high-functioning autism." Those kids struggled almost constantly to navigate life, their families struggled (all three sets of parents are now divorced...some from a second marriage), and I struggled to teach them. There were improvements made...some more than others....but the road was long and difficult every day, sometimes every hour. A notebook currently resides in my attic of one little boy's (not so little now as he entered the seventh grade this year) journal to me about his daily fight with the demons of autism that resided in his head. It is powerful writing...sometimes spoken in jibberish or pictures...that demonstrates the neurological warfare that is autism
So what's the point of this post (other than to confirm my nerd status by writing a book report by choice). I am not proposing that you need to place a check in the mail to Cure Autism Now or begin researching a cure for autism in your basement. I am not speaking out against vaccines, preservatives, environmental toxins, or mercury levels (although I do have opinions on all of these....most of which were different just three years ago). I am encouraging you to educate yourself because autism is not the vision portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man" anymore....it is an issue deeply affecting our society.
Oh yeah...and read the book. It was good. I liked it.