Wednesday, October 03, 2007

my thoughts on Jenny

Below is a link to a NY Times column written by Cammie McGovern, the author who wrote "Eye Contact" (a fiction book I just finished and loved.) It was written last year but I just found it on her personal website. I think it sums up nicely the drawback of hearing too much about "recovery" from autism.

I enjoyed watching Jenny McCarthy talk about her new book "Louder than Words" on Oprah, and the segment she did for The View, and Larry King. I am happy that well known people like Jenny are talking openly about autism, because it makes me think that increased attention will ultimately lead to increased demand from the public for more medical research to discover how and why this disorder occurs. But hearing her mention "recovery" makes me think of the many parents I have met who are doing everything they can - everything she says she did for her son - and not seeing changes.

Jenny's commitment to trusting her "mommy instinct" is right on. Every mom knows that the inner voice is the best voice to listen to when considering what's right for her child. But her writing and speaking with such conviction about what works and what doesn' makes me uneasy.

I believe what I've heard and learned from the trusted professionals we've worked with over the past 2 years, people who have spent their entire medical and professional careers working with hundreds of kids on the autism spectrum. From them I have learned this frustrating truth: there so much that is not understood about autism, and every child is different. In terms of treatment, what works for one child may not work for the next.

It's wonderful that Jenny is sharing what worked so well for her son, but that's the thing - it worked for her son. It very well might not work for someone else.

Anyway, here's the link:


tommiea said...

Very well put...I couldn't have said it any better.

Laurie Anne said...

You are so wise. I have 2 friends with autisic kids. Both took different pathes with their sons and both are making strides.
Each journey is different, best of luck on yours :0)

tulipmom said...

I haven't seen any of Jenny's interviews/but I did read a few articles about her book, and the whole idea of her son being "cured" just doesn't sit well with me. I'm glad he's made so much progress but I fear she is giving false hope to too many parents.

jilly said...

See but here is the one thing that both you and Jenny have in common, you are the BEST mom's! And you have more love in your heart than you could ever bestow on a sweet little boy who will always know that.

I don't have children, but if I did, I would look up to someone like you.

Good for you to educate yourself and to know and understand that we are all just human-beans each our own person!

Libby said...

I saw part of Jenny's interview on Oprah. I appreciate her energy and her commitment but I was leery about her use of the word "recovery" too. I'm glad a change of diet worked for her little boy, but that is not going to work for every child. It seems like her book is almost a very unfair holding out of the word "cure", you know?

Rosemary said...

Thanks for your post today. I'm sure it will help people. Not everything works for everybody. You are a smart lady!!

Nunnie's Attic said...

I will go back and read the link you posted. I know that my aunt saw a special where some guy said that his son until the age of 2 was perfectly "normal" (for lack of a better term) but then at the age of 3 or 4 was diagnosed with autism. His own research showed that children who are diagnosed with autism as a toddler were in most cases the healthiest of babies thriving in every aspect. He attributed that to the constant attention a baby receives as opposed to the more self-sufficient toddler. He did more research and found that there has never been a documented case of Autism within the Amish community. Why is that? He felt the answer was due to the fact that there are no electronic devices. Meaning, a child is not glued in front of the TV, computer, play station, game-boy, etc having little human interaction. The Amish community interacts by truly interacting. Not sitting around the TV, even if together as a family. He then took his child everywhere with him. From work to church to the store - EVERYWHERE. And he's has been "cured" of Autism. He does strongly admit that this was effective for HIS child and it may not have the same effect on another's.

Just thought I would share that.


paige said...

thanks for sharing your heart. i also really appreciated the link to the dove campaign....that inspied my entry today.

Meg said...


Thank you for your comment. Getting into what causes that is a sticky situation, one that for me connotes the image of opening up a can of worms.

With the indidence of autism growing, and increased public attention focused on what causes it, there has been much discussion (and raging debate) between parents and professionals - anyone and everyone in the autism and medical world. But the sobering truth is that no one knows what causes it - yet.

As I wrote in my post, I believe autism is a baffling, mysterious disorder, even for the people who have spent their professional lives trying to unlock its secrets. Some day (hopefully soon) this will not be the case.

Whether kids are born with this disorder, or they develop it (regress), it still remains that treating it is difficult because every child with the diagnosis is different.

Regarding the story your aunt saw, my question about the lack of incidence in the Amish world would have more to do with accurate diagnosis and less about how much kids are exposed to media and/or human contact. Also, this story has no relevance for my son, since he was born with his symptoms of autism and did not regress. I think people who experience a regression with their children have every reason to look at the environment and wonder what/how influenced the onset of autistic behavior and symptoms. The father explaining how he "cured" his child is simply another example of a parent explaining what worked for their particular child.

Thanks for weighing in on the topic. I always appreciate your sincerity.


Alice said...

I saw Jenny on The View and I believe they all stressed that what works for one child doesn't work for all children. I'm happy that her child is doing well. In a way, I think she was brave for addressing this topic because there is so much controversy surrounding autism and she's not exactly a Ph.D. I hope a key to unlocking what causes it and what helps children with it is found very soon.

Marianna said...

I've met a child who was "recovered". Now, he is only one, but I kept thinking to myself the entire time...this child still has some glaring autistic characteristics, how can they call him "recovered?" These parents have opted to completely mainstream this little boy in a setting where his teachers are unaware of his diagnosis. I worry for him knowing the peer issues he will face when he enters second and third grade.

As to the Amish having no documented cases of Autism...I would agree that that most likely has more to do with lack of diagnosis than with there truly being no cases amongst the Amish. The Amish aren't big on labels. They see a disabled child as a gift from G*d and do not necessarily worry about obtaining a diagnosis.

Southern Fried Girl said...

I read an article she had in People too. How eye opening for someone like me who is rather clueless on the topic.