Giving Myself Credit (And Side-Eye to Jenny McCarthy)

Excuse me while I toot my own horn, and that of all the other writers who quietly sit and write, sometimes to no one. We keep at it, impassioned by our pens and keyboards, most of us write for no other reason than we couldn’t imagine not doing it. Some of us get honorable mentions, full-time gigs with publications, a few even get a book deal. Whether we receive any nods, we all have important things to say. This is my reminder, to myself and to you. Stay writing. Your voice matters.

I started a little blog called Stop. Think. Autism. shortly after my daughter was diagnosed with autism. Upon her earliest diagnoses of neurological disorders and developmental delays, people would ask about cures, prenatal genetic screenings, and advise me of various supplements (Ahem, snake oils!). The reaction by some, including within our own family, of my daughter’s developmental disabilities startled me. I was under the assumption such ableism had been left back in the 1970’s. I was wrong. Seeing how people viewed my daughter and other people like her, stirred something inside of me. I got involved in advocacy by sitting down at my computer at night after my kids had gone to bed.

I met other parents and autistic adults who weren’t buying into the Autism Speaks nightmare story, those who wanted to ensure society accepted our children and that from school to employment, autistic adults were not discriminated against. It was uplifting to educate myself and be a part of the Autism Hub, a community of bloggers committed to this cause. At the time I began blogging, I’d been a stay-at-home mom for about six years. Due to several factors, unrelated to my SAHM status, my self-esteem at the time was quite low. I saw little worth in myself, and in my abilities to do anything outside of mothering. Writing, something that’s always been a passion of mine, and receiving notes of encouragement from others, lifted me up in unimaginable ways. It strengthened me. It reignited my zest for learning. I was given an advance copy of Do Vaccines Cause That? because Dr. Martin Myers respected my opinion on the topic. My blog was mentioned by the LA Times and Forbes! That little blog I started did more to empower me than anything else. If someone ever laughs at you for blogging, or belittles you because you’ve only a small following, tell them to go to hell. You’ll never know where your words might land you, and what powers they hold.

I came across three articles today while doing some prep work on a new autism-related piece. I’d previously missed them; they are from 2010 and I was doing my best to take a break from anything Jenny McCarthy related for a couple years. Both the Huffington Post and Slate pieces mention Time Magazine’s speculation on whether or not McCarthy’s son even had autism. [I cannot get this Time link to work.] In January, apparently McCarthy said she would seek legal action because of what that article claimed. Let me remind you: Jenny McCarthy made a career over having “cured” her son’s autism. Yes, this is when I side-eye Jenny. She cashed in on books, interviews, videos, appearances, etc. To admit her son never had and no longer has autism, means she loses not only creditability, but money. At this point, if she came forward and said her son was never autistic, but rather has Landau-Kleffner Syndrome (or anything other than vaccine-induced autism) and admitted the symptoms he had when he was younger were similar to autism, but not actually due to the vaccine-induced autism she spoke of for years, she might even lose her job on The View. She’d also have to answer for her years of careless propaganda, supporting dangerous treatments and her harmful anti-vaccine rhetoric (I refuse to link to Generation Rescue, however the last section here says all you need to know). Even her believers would be forced to walk away. Those who bought her b.s. and spent their savings on supposed cures and didn’t vaccinate their kids because this “autism mom” and her organization were offering them the help they were desperate for, how could they still support her? There would be no more gigs, no more celebrity status. But I digress…

Jenny McCarthy was often a target of mine in my writing when Stop. Think. Autism. was most active, her books were being published and she was getting a lot of anti-vaccine and woe-is-me-autism airtime. I even had a back-and-forth on my comments section with her pediatrician following their Larry King appearance. Anyway, reading that Time Magazine had discussed alternatives to Evan’s autism made me smirk. Years prior, I’d speculated it as well. In the summer of 2008, I wrote a series on just that:

Is Jenny Really An Autism Mom–and Why Should We Care?

Part 1: A Look At Epilepsy, Speech Delay, and Autism

Part 2: A Look At Auditory Processing, Allergies, and Autism

Part 3: On Autism and Diagnosis

I considered a combination of conditions that could have been causing her son’s symptoms and behaviors that mirrored autism, and how her various “treatments” could mimic a “cure” in those cases. Here I was, a lowly (that’s a joke) housewife at her computer, babbling into the interwebz. I was on the case two years before Time got around to it. I had to give myself a pat on the back. Don’t ever mock us “ordinary” writers. We are more knowledgable and capable than you might think.

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