From Playboy model to brazenly fearless comedienne to New York Times best selling author of tell-it-like-it-is “mommy” books; it’s a career path that even surprised Jenny McCarthy… until now.
After a heart wrenching battle to get her son Evan properly diagnosed after he fell terribly ill with seizures at the age of two, to her son’s devastating diagnosis of autism and her arduous journey to find answers and get him healed, Jenny McCarthy has discovered her life’s work. She is determined to use her celebrity to bring attention to a condition that has reached epidemic proportions among pre-school age children: rapidly rising occurrences of autism. Autism is a disturbing Neuro Immune disorder, and one that is shrouded in some mystery and often misunderstood, even by the medical community. Autism severely debilitates a child’s ability to relate to and become properly socialized with other children as well as adults. Autistic children have extremely stunted language and auditory processing abilities, they lack the ability to communicate both verbally and non-verbally and they do not know how to give and receive affection as “typical” children do. Children suffering from autism can become trapped in their own little world if they do not receive early intervention and treatment.
Thirty percent of autistic children suffer from seizures, as was the case with Jenny McCarthy’s son, Evan. McCarthy’s original team of doctors offered her little hope for Evan’s improvement, leaving her lost and frustrated. Finally help came her way in the form of a fellow Hollywood mom, Holly Robinson Peete, who also has a son with Autism. Robinson Peete’s experience and advice offered Jenny a glimmer of light in an otherwise pitch black tunnel. The women shared stories and support. Jenny became aware of a window of time in which Evan could possibly be pulled out of the acute state he was in. She discovered that he could potentially learn the skills he would need to function as what the autism community refers to as a “typical” child. There was also hope for Evan to eventually attend a “typical” school, and if there was even a 1% chance for this kind of success, Jenny was determined to fight for her son.
She found the ammunition she needed in the form of a strict dairy free and wheat free diet, an anti-fungal medication, and in various forms of behavioral therapy. She also enlisted the help of a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) Doctor. As Jenny McCarthy remained steadfast in pursuing Evan’s recovery, she found solace in prayer and meditation, often asking “why” she and Evan were put on this path. Jenny believes the answer lies in her ability to reach millions of moms through the audience that she had unwittingly manifested through her successful run as bestselling author of mommy and baby books. Referring to her latest best seller, Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism, she has stated with unwavering faith that, “This is the book I was born to write!”
On a late Friday afternoon Jenny and I spoke about her book Louder Than Words while her son played and squealed with delight in the background. As our conversation unfolded, it became clear to me that she considers penning Louder Than Words and her promotional tour for the book to be her defining moment, both personally and professionally. Jenny McCarthy speaks in a style that is warm and welcoming, and her slight Chicago accent (McCarthy is originally from the windy city) makes her sound more like mid-western soccer mom then super-famous blonde bombshell and half of one of Hollywood’s A-list couples.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): What made you decide to share your story and your son’s story, as opposed to keeping it private?
Jenny McCarthy: When this happened, when Evan got the diagnosis, I knew immediately deep down within me, that I was literally supposed to be the one to come out about Autism and just kind of spread the message to the world. I just knew it, because I always wondered why I became a best selling author for Mommy books. I’m going, “God this is so odd in my life, that I’ve got all these moms’ attention. I wonder why. Why am I the ‘go to’ for mommies and babies?” Then this happened and I went “Ah!” And then along my journey with healing Evan, I noticed that my story resembled so many other moms, of the struggles we were going through and what we believe triggered our children’s autism and how I was able to help recover Evan; how thousands of moms are recovering [their children] and no one is talking about it. So with all of those things piling up, there was no one else in the world I knew that God had intended to come out and be as loud as they possibly could.
PR.com: I want to talk to you about what you believe caused Evan’s autism. I know that he is on a wheat and dairy free diet and I know that you put him on Diflucan to get the fungus out of his body. The combination of that with the behavior therapy… then there are the vaccinations. I grew up eating grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream sundaes and my mom vaccinated me. How come I didn’t become autistic, and why do these things affect some children?
Jenny McCarthy: If you look at the vaccine schedule, and you can go on www.generationrescue.com and that’s a really good website… the vaccines that you received in 1983 were ten. Today they’re thirty-six. Thirty-six vaccinations compared to ten back in the day. A lot of these kids seem to be born with a little bit of an auto-immune problem. Maybe they can’t really detox some of the toxins in the environment as easily. For instance, one of the things is glutathione. Glutathione is everyone’s bodies’ natural anti-oxidant that gets rid of toxins and viruses and stuff like that. We’ve noticed that a lot of these kids have low glutathione. So we say, “God, if these kids are born with low glutathione, a lower immune system, then how are they supposed to now take thirty-six vaccines when we never had that before?” So it’s real easy when you look at that list of what it was like, and what it’s like now, to go, “Ah! I see the escalation of vaccines and I see the escalation of autism,” and that’s how we got there.
PR.com: Why are there more vaccines?
Jenny McCarthy: I’m so glad you said that (laughs)! Why are there?! Why do we need a Chickenpox vaccine? I had the Chickenpox. I got to stay home from school.
PR.com: I agree with you. If it’s not something that is potentially fatal…
Jenny McCarthy: Right. That’s exactly what I’ll [bring up] on my next round of publicity. I can’t say to moms, “Don’t vaccinate,” because it’s crazy. I know we need them. But how about this everyone… make a good choice. You select your vaccines. They [now] put the influenza shot in the vaccine schedules in the first year. Do they need it?
PR.com: When you go to the pediatrician for your regularly scheduled visits with an infant… actually when do they start vaccinating?
Jenny McCarthy: You get vaccinated on the first to second day of life. They do it in the hospital. You don’t even know it. They do it without asking your permission.
PR.com: But when you start bringing your child to the pediatrician do you have the right to say, “I don’t want that vaccine,” and “Yes I’ll take that one?”
Jenny McCarthy: Yes you do have the right, but many pediatricians will yell at the mother and make her feel like an irresponsible, ignorant mother for not getting vaccinated. And then they might tell you that it’s the only way they can get in school. Both of those things are ignorant unto themselves. There are religious exemptions, and you can decide when and if you want the vaccines. But you are so pressured by your pediatrician that they make it seem like Polio is just everywhere! Hepatitis B, they have to get! Hepatitis B the second day of life?! Tetanus is still filled with mercury, by the way. So is the flu shot. So the fact that they also say that there’s no more mercury in these shots is a lie.
PR.com: Why is mercury in these vaccines?
Jenny McCarthy: Because it is the cheapest preservative. These are the most toxic neurotoxins on the face of the planet… plutonium, and then number two is mercury. We still have mercury in these shots because it’s very, very cheap. They can completely use something else, but they won’t make as much of a profit.
PR.com: Well, that’s a whole other story with the medical industry.
Jenny McCarthy: That’s a whole other next year book.
PR.com: And you believe that when Evan was an infant that he was behaving like a “typical” child?
Jenny McCarthy: Yes.
PR.com: Explain to me how the Candida in Evan’s system affected his autism.
Jenny McCarthy: Once these kids start getting… basically their immune system shuts down. After the toxic levels that they pick up in the air, water, vaccines… it kind of really deregulates the immune system. Once that happens, these kids are getting ear infection after ear infection. You can ask any mother of a child with autism if they had countless ear infections and they’ll say yes. Then the doctors give repeated antibiotics. Well the repeated antibiotics without a probiotic, probiotic is like an acidophilus that you find in yogurt… all these antibiotics create this yeast in the gut. An overabundance of yeast then causes holes in the gut and that causes Leaky Gut Syndrome. Food then travels to the blood, which travels to the brain. Candida literally takes over the body causing horrible side affects. They’re finding that once you clean up those issues, a lot of these children on the spectrum feel so much better. Then they are able to absorb the therapies, like speech therapies, let’s say. They feel better and they can think clearly and they’re not sick. Evan was so sick with that yeast that if I never dug into it and found out about it, he would still be severely messed up.
PR.com: When you talk about the DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) Doctors, are they pediatricians who specialize in treating children with autism?
Jenny McCarthy: These are pediatricians that were just like every other pediatrician and then they went, “Oh My God! Look what’s happening with these vaccines.” They couldn’t inject another kid. So it’s sad, but you immediately have to turn into a DAN! Doctor or pediatrician who’s opposed to vaccines. But a lot of them just immediately fell into the world of helping these kids.
PR.com: Is it that type of doctor who provided you with all of this information?
Jenny McCarthy: Yes and no. I did a lot of digging on my own, the “University of Google” (laughs). I found the diet myself, I found the supplements myself. Then the DAN! Doctor was the one who said, “He’s got yeast.” I was like, “What’s Candida?” People don’t realize it, and it’s not only in these kids by the way. My sister was loaded with it. That’s how we diagnosed my sister. She had chronic illness and found out through Evan that she had Candida. It’s one of those things that I think people are going to see more and more as time goes on.
PR.com: How can you get the Candida (yeast) out of the body if you suspect your child may have that?
Jenny McCarthy: Everyone should always be on a probiotic every day of their life, especially if they are doing an antibiotic; they need a probiotic. I talk about something in my book called ThreeLac, which is a natural probiotic, but it’s a probiotic that eats yeast in the gut. I started giving it to Evan and it’s just a little powder in your drink, like Tang. You drink it everyday. He started pooping out buckets of yeast. He was throwing up yeast. He had so much yeast.
PR.com: And every time he eliminated more yeast, you saw tremendous progress?
Jenny McCarthy: He started speaking. Words were coming out as he was throwing up.
PR.com: And you refer to Evan as now being in recovery…
Jenny McCarthy: Yes.
PR.com: Is he still classified as autistic or is he classified as what they call “typical?”
Jenny McCarthy: He’s classified as typical, but he still has auditory processing issues. I still have him in speech [therapy]. But he’s in typical school and completely normal functioning. Once in awhile we’ll talk so quickly and there will be so much information, and he’ll go, “Wait. Can you slow down?” That’s Evan’s thing though (laughs). He’s like, “You’re talking too fast!” And that’s auditory processing, where there is too much information together at once. But all of the autism is gone.
PR.com: And he hugs and kisses you and expresses love, and all of that good stuff?
Jenny McCarthy: Oh My God! You have no idea. That’s all he does, yes! “I love you mommy. I love you so much!” And squeezes, hugs and kisses.
PR.com: And then you realized the contrast from when he was sick, I’m sure. Because you said that you kind of blocked out the fact that he wasn’t showing affection when he was experiencing the autism.
Jenny McCarthy: He was not at all. He was not giving me anything. He wouldn’t even let me hold him.
PR.com: What does that contrast feel like, to go from that to all of a sudden having this child who is now alive and showing affection everyday?
Jenny McCarthy: Blessing; gift from God; lucky stars! I can never bitch about anything again for the rest of my life! Ever! I can never say, “My butt’s too big for these jeans.” I can never say that I don’t have enough money for something. I can never say, “Oh God, look at this ugly zit on my face.” I am forever grateful and blessed!
PR.com: As these kids grow up and get into adolescence and into their early twenties, what happens? You never hear about autistic teenagers. You never hear about autistic college kids, or even kids who had autism when they were young and now they’re recovered. What happens to them on their journey?
Jenny McCarthy: It’s interesting, because autism is so prevalent now, just in the past six or seven years. These kids aren’t adults yet. They’re out there, but it surely isn’t one in ninety-four boys (the current statistic). But let me tell you, when all of these kids are in their twenties, it’s going to be an amazing world to see. I don’t know any [who] are older. People are saying autism’s on the rise just because people are getting diagnosed more. Bullshit! Then show me one in ninety-four men walking around with autism.
PR.com: You never hear about it, you never see it. Where are the autistic adults?
Jenny McCarthy: It’s cause there weren’t any. It’s all now.
PR.com: Why do you think doctors seem so fearful of acknowledging a connection between illness and nutrition in these kids?
Jenny McCarthy: Isn’t it fascinating? It is so mind boggling to me that the medical community does not support diet. If you ask any doctor you go to about diet intervention, they have no idea. If you ask any medical students at graduation, “How many of you guys have learned about preventative medicine?” no one would raise their hand. It is a pharmaceutical world. Mind you… Evan, for seizures, has to be on pharmaceuticals in order to keep him seizure free. So I’m not against pharmaceuticals, but for the love of God, we need to be teaching doctors that there is a natural way to help these kids. I know these kids are here for a reason, it’s not just to have autism in the world. It’s to show us, “Oh look. Eating healthy makes a body feel better.” I think that, that is really their big message and you know, come on with the toxins and the vaccines and the pesticides in your toxic world. Clean it up.
PR.com: You know how there’s an event that opens your eyes? This situation with your son opened your eyes…
Jenny McCarthy: Yeah…
PR.com: It makes you feel grateful but also angry.
Jenny McCarthy: Yes it does. I do think that women our age and younger (Jenny and I are two years apart in age), are going to become part of this new generation that goes, “Wait a minute!” I do think we’re onto something where we’re realizing that we have to take our health into our own hands.
PR.com: It’s unfortunate, but I think the way it goes is that you have to be your own advocate. You have to do your own research and then bring your research to the doctor and collaborate with the doctor, instead of just blindly following whatever the doctor tells you.
Jenny McCarthy: It’s true. I know that doctors get so upset when moms go on Google. Well, it’s because the power is being put back in our hands. Before you go through any surgeries or any prescriptions, or anything, do your homework!
PR.com: How is your son’s relationship with his dad (film director John Asher)? In your book it got kind of tense there for awhile. Your ex-husband, who was your husband at the time, he kind of didn’t know what to do with himself. He was very overwhelmed by Evan’s illness. What’s the situation now between Evan and his father? How do they relate to each other?
Jenny McCarthy: It’s so great, because Evan now completely communicates. So he plays like a little boy. And I have no expectations on my ex anymore because we’re not together. But I’m happy to say that their relationship has bonded into a pretty nice one.
PR.com: Why do you call your boyfriend, Jim Carrey, the autism whisperer (laughs)?
Jenny McCarthy: (Laughs) I know. He’s like, “I’m gonna die with the name ‘the autism whisperer.’” He had such a sweet and wonderful way of communicating with Evan when Evan really wasn’t able to. He’s been there watching Evan grow and transform into what he is today, and he really helped him get through some fears and some quirks that autism held him down with. Evan had a fear of dogs, and Jim helped remedy that. Evan didn’t like water on his head and Jim created a thunderstorm and so now Evan goes, “Oh, I just go through the thunderstorm.” He just has this really, kind of, secretive inner dialogue that Evan and him just communicate back and forth so well with.
PR.com: Are the three of you now a family unit?
Jenny McCarthy: Yeah.
PR.com: Are you ever going to get married?
Jenny McCarthy: No. I love the idea that we don’t need it. It’s just a little tiny piece of paper that we’ll leave on a tree.
PR.com: What has been your greatest lesson in this whole experience, dealing with Evan’s autism?
Jenny McCarthy: My greatest lesson is always to trust the mommy instinct. Always trust yourself. Always trust the gut instinct. It will never let you down.
PR.com: And you sometimes had to fight other people when they told you that, that instinct was wrong, correct?
Jenny McCarthy: Correct. You’ll always face people, and that gut is never wrong. It’s when you start making decisions with your head and not your gut that you’re going to run into problems. That’s how I got Evan where he is today. I followed that gut.
PR.com: What have you learned about your son in going through this experience?
Jenny McCarthy: That this guy is a strong willful little man. He is my hero. I look up to him. I learned that he can get through the [toughest times] and keep going, and that’s why I kept going.
PR.com: What has been the feedback that you’ve gotten from moms who have read your book, and also, have you gotten feedback from any dads with autistic children?
Jenny McCarthy: I had an autograph signing, and in the autograph signing I had a bunch of dads there and the dads were kind of weeping, themselves. The outpouring of people is more then I ever could have imagined. I knew my story resembled a lot of other peoples’. I just didn’t realize that it resembled so many people. It’s overwhelming. Every day I’m flooded! On Amazon, all of the book reviews… It actually is what keeps me going, because I go, “Oh, ok. I am right!” People keep writing, “Jenny you wrote my story, my son recovered too!”
PR.com: Not only did you write a lot of peoples’ story, but you’re a very talented writer. The way you wrote this book, it does make you feel like you’re living it with you. I felt like I was living it with you.
Jenny McCarthy: The funny thing was, the only thing my publisher changed was that I wrote in present tense, because I put myself back in it so you could be with me. She said, “You did it all in present tense.” I thought, “Oh wow! I was so in it.”
PR.com: I’ve heard you say that God chose you to have an autistic child. Why? Why did God choose you?
Jenny McCarthy: It’s amazing how God puts certain people in the packages that no one would possibly expect. That if I look back at all my books, I always wondered why I became a best selling author of mommy and baby books. That seems so funny to me. I became this mom who was telling it like it is and every book was “The Naked Truth About… something.” And it couldn’t have happened to a better person, because I was going to come out and give my naked honest truth about autism and have the balls to get on these shows and say what I’m doing. I definitely know that I was the one!
“Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism,” by Jenny McCarthy is published by Penguin Group/Dutton and is now available in bookstores and at Amazon.com.