On May 26, Jenny McCarthy, Playboy model and president of Generation Rescue
, was the keynote speaker at the AutismOne conference — a role she has filled for the past five years. During her address, she found it necessary to state the following about moms who have children with autism but reject her own methods that supposedly helped her child "recover."
"They fall into this victim role and they like it. It's almost as if they didn't get attention in their lives ... and now this incredible door opens where all of these people come over and say, 'Suzy, oh, Suzy, I'm so sorry, is there anything I can do for you?' There's all this attention. And they're looooving it. They're loving having people feel sorry for them. They get extra, you know, home-cooked meals from their neighbors. Ya know, oh ... So to me, I can't stand that. Like when people do that I'm like shut the [expletive] up and get away from me. I don't want your sympathy. I'm over here. On this train. This warrior train."
The recorded speech can be viewed in full here.
(It begins at about the seven-minute mark.)
I'm the mother of five children, three with special needs. My adopted twin sons have a diagnosis of autism, probably due to fetal alcohol disorder, and one other biological son has bipolar and autistic traits. I don't know anyone who feels sorry for me. I've never had a neighbor bring me a home-cooked meal. Maybe that's because I, too, am on the warrior train
. But it's my own warrior monorail, not the McCarthy "my-way-is-better-than-all-others" railway.
As for wanting attention, I'm not the one posing nude for Playboy
, talking about how I'm not going to have my bikini line waxed, and sending my dentist nude pics
. I'm a skilled musician and a talented, trained, experienced actress. There are easier ways for me to get attention than rearing children with autism. I know of no families living with this disorder who are fawned over. Mostly they are avoided, rejected and isolated. I wish more people would help families
by bringing them a meal, but the sad truth is, they don't.
McCarthy claims her son is "recovered" and yet she home educates him through a school
that costs more than $100,000 a year. (I homeschooled my kids for less than $1,000/year.) Most parents who have children with autism don't have a buffet of services
, nannies and schools at their disposal. The kinds of treatment that McCarthy touts can be expensive. And when one parent must stay home to care for the child, the family income suffers. It's difficult to put food on the table, pay the light bill, and meet the whole family's financial needs.
McCarthy also ignores the fact that autism is a spectrum disorder, that not all moms' kids will "recover" or respond to certain treatments. Her rhetoric is cruel and damaging to moms doing all they can to hold their heads above water. She is pushing them back under and blaming them for their child's lack of "recovery." Her words give the public another excuse to ignore the very real issues of caring for these kids, and could have negative effects on public policies.
What moms must realize is that McCarthy offers no specific data on the ways her son has recovered. Perhaps he improved as he matured? She can't know this for sure.
Do you think Jenny owes me and other moms rearing kids with autism an apology? Is she out of touch with reality? Are you enjoying being a victim of autism because it gets you attention? Weigh in.