Wednesday, September 26, 2007


So apparently all of life’s answers are obtainable in the course of watching one program on television. Am I being sarcastic? Well duh But in some minds, it’s entirely conceivable to think that listening to one person’s experiences with their autistic child is easily transferred into my life.

My mom called me frantically yesterday morning to tell me that Jenny McCarthy was going to be on The View, and talking about how she overcame her son’s autism. I am familiar with Jenny’s story, and had caught the last ten minutes of her and Holly Robinson-Peete talking about their autistic children on Oprah last week. Actually, that segment interested me a lot, but unfortunately I was on the tarmac and they turned the satellite system off so we could get our plane in the air. By the time they turned it back on, it was Dr. Phil talking about plane etiquette (how ironic).

Later in the afternoon, my mom called me to see if I watched The View. I told her no, actually I had been busy all afternoon, and it slipped my mind (Actually, I can’t stand The View. They never shut up long enough to let anyone actually talk. I mean why bother having a guest on the show if you’re going to cut them off every 1/8 of a second?) So of course mom gave me the verbal play-by-play of the show. How Jenny first realized her son had something wrong with him (... just like Kierra you know... the way she arched her back and tip-toe walked), and how no one would believe her (... just like when you pushed your pediatrician to evaluate her even though he didn’t want to). Typical mom-daughter-television show transference. I mean my mom means well - don’t get me wrong. She’s only trying to help. I just listened to what she had to say. Then mom tells me Kierra should go for blood tests, and that I need to get her on a special diet because Jenny McCarthy’s kid was cured once she put him on these special anti-fungal medications and took all the gluten out of his diet.

Enter exasperated daughter’s sigh. Do people really think I’ve never read about any of these theories pertaining to autism? That if I thought there was a cure-all out there for autism, I wouldn’t have done it by now? How do you explain to someone who just wants to help that it’s all fine and dandy but my kid isn’t Jenny McCarthy’s kid? I told her gently that there is no “cure” for autism. You can manage the symptoms of it, but it never “goes away”. Mom insisted I go out and buy her book though, because if I read it, then I could decide for myself. Granted - I am always interested in people’s takes on autism, and what they have learned from their own journeys. But I’m far past the idea that reading a book is going to fix my kid. Come to my house and see my collection of books on the subject. I once too thought I could find the answers if I just looked hard enough. They I came to the conclusion that if highly-educated scientists can’t figure it out, what chance in hell do I have? I’ve come to terms with it a long time ago. This doesn’t imply I’m above not learning more. I don’t have all the answers, but then again, neither does Jenny McCarthy. She knows her son. She doesn’t know my daughter. She IS a strong advocate for her child. All things aside, this is the most important role she’ll ever play in her child’s life.

Still... I went out last night and bought the damn book. It’s not so much I’m hoping to find the magic answer in there. I think it’s more looking for a connection to another mom out there sharing her story with the world. Maybe to know that it doesn’t matter how famous you are, how much money you make - this is something that can affect anyone out there. I’m a firm believer that it’s only fact if it’s proven. I think I lost the optimistic me three years ago - once I immersed myself in the reality of what I needed to do to help my daughter now. Or maybe there really is still a part of me left in there that is holding out that impossible hope? How else do you explain this book sitting on my bedside table?

I honestly commend Jenny McCarthy, or anyone else for that matter, that openly speaks about how autism affects their life. I think awareness can only accomplish positive things. And for those out there that find that spark of hope out there in another person’s words - hang onto it. For really, in the impossibilities of every dream - at some point it was recognized as a reality.


Anonymous said...

I know in my heart that you are doing everything you can for your daughter. You are strong - stronger than I will ever be - and you are an inspiration to us Moms out here who struggle with the little things every day.

My hero.

And I applaud you for continually take strides to make today a better day - a step toward - for your dear Kierra.

And I know that your Mom means well. Many of us really want to support you. I only wish that I lived closer so I could support you in person much more often!


Elle said...


Thanks so much. You know I love ya.

Anonymous said...

It's good that you know your mom means well, but I know what you mean. And one person's solution is not necessarily another's.

I saw the last few minutes of Jenny McCarthy's interview yesterday on the View and thought about ya too.

I thought the part about diet was interesting because as a teenager, my brother was having extreme (and I do mean extreme) mood swings, even for a teenage boy. My mom took him to a place called the Magaziner Center for Wellness (they have a website if you type that into yahoo or google). The doc decided to allergy test him. We were all like, um ??? When my brother was injected with common allergens, like an ingredient in coffee, he was borderline delirious! As soon as they gave him an antigen to counteract this "allergic reaction," he came back down to normal.

Personally, I am becoming more and more intrigued by what diets may be able to fix. I resently saw a woman with terminal cancer who was told that she wouldn't make it 2 years. She started eating only natural foods - including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Five years later, her cancer is gone, she's healthier than ever, and her doctors have no answers as to why.

While diet may not be the cure, it could help with certain symptoms. The doctors from the Magaziner Center have written books about all sorts of diets, and the links to everything from heart disease to ADD. There for a while I know I was ready to stick my kid on a diet!

At the end of the day, you know what's best for your daughter. And just know that I think you are doing a fabulous job.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

It's very hard when others, who mean well, give advice on our children. I don't deal with Autism, however, my eldest was born with a congenital heart defect. He nows how some issues, those similar to ADHD that may have been caused by his heart surgery. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that I've researched, he's my kid, I want to help him so of course I've done everything I can. When someone else tells me what "I should do" it can be frustrating.

Okay, I babbled. I hope you get my point. You are, I'm sure, doing a fantastic job. Don't ever doubt yourself!


Mom not Mum said...

Aww I feel your pain. While I don't have an autistic child Jared has asthma, he is a small child, he isn't very outgoing and on and on. My mom is constantly coming up with things she heard or read that might make him breath better or grow taller. As if I don't realize he is sick a lot and short @@. Oh well - someday we'll probably be driving our own children crazy with our advice on raising their children. The dang circle of life!!!!

M said...

I had to comment. For some reason I'm usually a lurker (maybe I've comment before) but today I couldn't be quiet because I swear to you my mother and I had the exact. same. conversation. OMG. It drove me insane.

My son hasn't been diagnosed autistic but if he isn't I'll be significantly surprised. We're in the midst of diagnosis and therapy set up and all kinds of good, stressful, overwhelming things.

And then I hear my mom yapping "well if he IS autistic and doesn't outgrow this" (because, ya know, kids just 'outgrow' autism all the time) "you really might want to look into trying some of those things! I hear she used crystals too!"

I actually am quite interested in Jenny McCarthy's book as her article in people was interesting and, for some crazy reason, I've always kind of like her as a human.

But not because I think reading her book is going to give me the magic cure for my sons problems.

It's nice that my mom cared enough to watch the shows and give me the reports on them as I have no time dealing with my kidfolk (and internet obsession) though it is hard to tell her that there's no one fit cure and, if this is autism, there's no 'cure' at all.

TK the Shrink said...

I watched the interview on THe VIew and it bugged me that she said her son no longer had autism. While we don't know yet if Sean has a variant of Autisim or not, I still understand that there is no cure to it.

As for the book, Becki ( has and loves the book. Says that it reads like Jenny was talking to her girlfriends.

Maria said...

I think you hit it right on the head. While you need and want to have someone in your shoes to compare notes with, etc....each child is different.

And if this diet worked for her child, that is wonderful. But, if it were THAT easy, if all it took was a diet to cure autism....we would have a lot of curing going on. What works for one does not work for everyone. I, like you, am very glad that Jenny found something that works (for now). But, it is hardly a recipe for all autistic children.