I’m a huge fan of Jenny McCarthy. Not in a crazy, stalker, have pictures up on my wall kind of way but just some healthy respect. She is not someone people would normally associate with me and my reading material but she is freaking funny. Her book “Life Laughs” had me snorting and laughing so hard I almost peed my pants. She has a few other books as well, one of which is “Louder Than Words”. It is about her journey in helping her son Evan and discovering he was autistic. She details the strain and breakage of her marriage. She shares her own struggles in dealing with the diagnosis and the beginning of her role as a warrior. This lead to her next book “Mother Warriors” which I am reading right now. A title that I unknowingly had bestowed upon me 13 years ago when my son was born and our journey began.
The journey with Thomas has been a curvy one. Just as we thought we were making progress, we would hit a curve that seemed to take us back towards where we were trying to escape from. At the time, I didn’t understand about all his allergies and skin reactions and diarrhea and food intolerances and wandering eyes. Now thanks to reading Jenny’s book, I can look back and see that my battle with autism had begun far before I knew I had been drafted. I also have an appreciation for the thousands of parents whose struggle was much worse than mine and how lucky I am to have my son.
The biggest thing that I am getting out this book so far is that all my efforts were not in vain. All the visits to the Naturopath and Osteopath were not only helping heal his skin but bringing him back from that silent, rocking void that he could have leapt in to before I knew it was there waiting to grab hold and suck him in. I didn’t know that by giving him slippery elm to treat his leaky gut syndrome that I was helping to close the gap on that void. I didn’t know that by putting essential fatty acids in to his juice I was helping him to walk away from a silent world. I didn’t know that by putting him on rice milk instead of cow’s milk I was helping him walk towards a bright future. Not one person that helped me treat his outside ever put together that something else might have been going on inside. Not until Jenny.
I have fought for my son his entire life. And I mean his ENTIRE life. From the day he was born he has been an allergic baby but no one said anything. Not even the doctor’s who saw his blood work. Saw that his little body was primed to fight anything and everything. Saw that some caution should be taken with this little boy of mine. That would have required effort on their part. My boy did not fit their cookie cutter new baby mold. Nor did he fit the mold of the very sick baby. He fell in to their void of in between. He should have rung alarm bells with all his symptoms. Someone should have known that he would need watching. Someone should have known to advise us that there might be problems in his future. Now thanks to Jenny’s fight, hopefully less parents will have to fall in to the void and fight their way out.
Tears fall while I read this book. Not out of sadness. Not out of anger. But out of relief. Relief that I have done everything I could do with what resources I had to help my son. As a mother you always doubt that you are doing the right thing. Now I know that even though I wasn’t initially trying to heal Thomas’ autism, by helping the symptoms that were presenting on its behalf, I was staying out of the void. I have seen those kids who can’t come back. I have seen those parents who look so tired that a month of sleep couldn’t make a dent in their careworn faces. I have been the distraught mother who searches endlessly and battles ferociously for someone to listen, someone to help, someone to understand. And now we have Jenny whose message gives me hope.
My son is not healed. He will always have Aspergers. He will always beat to his own drum in a world where the band is playing another tune. He will always need support for certain things. And quite frankly, I’m okay with that. My son routinely tells me that he loves me. He walks up to me, looks me in the eye and asks for hugs. He has more imagination in his gray matter than I think even Walt Disney. He is loving, funny, developing friendships, learning about life, able to do his own laundry and overall will be successful in what he chooses to do. He has a mother who is tough on him and loves him so fiercely that sometimes shouting at him is a way to release it. My feelings for him are so huge and swing so wide that there are days where I want to put my warrior shield down and weep. But my son talks to me. He shares with me. He tries to make me laugh even when I am about to kick him in the butt. So I fart on him instead. Payback is a bitch and he is learning about that too.
Thank you Jenny McCarthy for writing this book. For having the courage to say what mom’s for all ages have been trying to say – Listen to us. Here what we have to say. You are doctors, not God. Unless you are fortunate enough to have an autistic child at home to learn from, learn from us. We want to share with you what living in the 24/7 world of autism teaches us. We have learned to be warriors. We have learned to trust our gut and go with our instincts. We have learned that our children deserve whatever treatment is possible. We ask that you not be afraid of the pharmaceutical companies. That you embrace the idea that there are other options available. That resorting to toxic chemicals riddled with side effects are a last resort, not the first thing to reach for. That you understand, that we, the mother warriors, will no longer be silenced or intimidated. We are the only voice that our children have and we will shout for them for their entire life.