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A Half-Assed Defense of Mommy Warrior Jenny McCarthy

Oh Teh Interwebs, you are so so so amusing. The clicking, the indignance, the only reading 1/5 of an article, will your hijinks never end? I was reminded of the stupidity of the internet his weekend when I was pelted with posts and texts about how Jenny McCarthy has been frauding us all with her fake autistic child. I mean, what a bitch, right?!

Turns out that the post I was sent  referenced a link to a blog that mentioned an article in Time magazine and all of this shit was like over three years old. But it was news to someone who had a laptop that’s for sure.

You can read this blog post that has been floating all over the internet which basically states that McCarthy stated in an interview that her son never had autism but instead a similar congenital disorder. It’s impossible to verify what she said in this 2010 interview because you can’t even see the whole article. Maybe she did refute her son’s diagnosis.  Oh for fuck’s sake, so what if she did, anyway?

I know that for years, she has blamed vaccines for causing her son’s autism and sits on the Board of Directors for Generation Rescue, an organization that  claims that vaccines probably caused their children’s autism but you should still vaccinate your child if you want to. Ok, that’s not weird or anything.  They can also refer you to diets and protocols and doctors who can “rescue” your child from autism.

I want to rescue my Father from cancer, I want to rescue myself from acid reflux, I want to rescue my friend from epilepsy (this all sounds stupid, right? Just checking.)

I’ve worked in and around autism in some form of fashion since 1997 and can say with some certainty that parents and caregivers with autistic children are a wacky group. Autism in general is wacky. The condition itself runs from mildly geeky to almost total catatonia, that’s why they call it a spectrum disorder. It’s diagnosed though observation and questionnaires and rating scales, there’s no blood test for autism. The treatments are wide and varied and there are lots of lovely drugs to treat particular symptoms but no one agreed upon drug or treatment to treat the disorder itself.

I do not need rescued.
I do not need rescued.

I get why people want to treat autism, sometimes I see my 19 year old autistic daughter so unhappy and frustrated and without the all important words to express her needs to me. Sometimes I’m sad when I see her go to the movies with an aide who is paid to be with her instead of a trusted friend. I spent years of her childhood facilitating a very intensive home program to “treat” her autism. I think it helped her and I can show the improvement in her comprehensive IQ on paper which is very nice but she’s still autistic. No rescue here.

Somehow we have all survived and even found some joy in the unique and (dare I say) delightful way my daughter seems to view the world. I’m not saying  that there aren’t tons of aspects of autism that suck really hard but my kid doesn’t need to be rescued. So although I give McCarthy mad props for being extra-super foxy and keeping it tight, I’ll skip her autism advice.

So, at the end of our day, neither my daughter or I give two steamy turds about what Jenny McCarthy says to whom about what weather or not she may or may have not said it. However, I do care about what people living with autism have to say, and I’m grateful for organizations like the Autism Self Advocacy Network that advocate for people who have autism. I’ve met many autistic adults who feel that their autism enables them to focus on the type of details that are necessary to do work like writing code for the web. You’re welcomed sez autism.


And for crissake, make sure that before you send me an article over Facebook, make sure that it’s actually news.  It’s our job to keep the internet as bullshit free as possible so that the cats may run free!


Katie Anderson is a freelance writer and improv theater instructor. Her work has appeared in Alt Daily , HuffPost Parents and Anderson has written comedy for Panties in a Twist: All Female Comedy and a weekly live stage show, Second City This Week in Los Angeles. She is currently working on a practical guide for parents and caregivers of autistic individuals to be published sometime in the next few years (get off her back, it's hard to write a book). Katie holds a BA in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She lives with her academic rock star husband, one of her three kids and two very spoiled cats in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @ improvperson.

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