Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Louder Than Words by Jenny McCarthy

I admit that I was skeptical when I read my first Jenny McCarthy book, Mother Warriors. Somehow her illustrious career (Singled Out, WWE, and movies like The Stupids, BASEketball and Scary Movie 3) didn't instill in me the confidence that she would be able to write well. I had heard that her pregnancy humor book Belly Laughs was crude but funny.

Now having read both Mother Warriors and Louder than Words, I can say that these books far exceeded my low expectations. Were they Pulitzer Prize-worthy? No. Did I sometimes cringe at McCarthy's salty humor and language? Yes. But overall, what came out of these books was the idea of a mom, not the persona McCarthy has created for herself, who was fighting for her kid and trying everything possible to make him better.

I picked up Mother Warriors first (back in 2008, which is why I am not counting it on my list) and read it cover to cover in about a day. The writing isn't spectacular but the stories of parents dealing with their childrens' autism diagnoses in different ways is touching. Louder Than Words was McCarthy's first book about autism, and was written two years after her son Evan was diagnosed. It is primarily a story of Jenny's prolonged battle to try as many different and possibly effective treatments as possible for Evan, from traditional behavioral therapies to chelation and GFCF diets. Jenny feels vindicated when Evan starts to improve, even as she is making tremendous personal sacrifices to provide for him. Evan's diagnosis eventually contributes to the collapse of Jenny's marriage to Evan's dad.

Jenny's book provides an interesting look at one side of the autism "debate" over whether non-traditional therapies work and whether vaccines harm children. McCarthy is very much in the camp that belives in both those things, along with some pediatricians (known collectively as the Defeat Autism Now! doctors). The other side of the autism coin is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AMA, the CDC and even some non-profits like Autism Speaks, and says that autism is primarily gentic and cannot be cured. Children who receive applied behavioral therapy can improve greatly but cannot be cured.

All in all Louder Than Words is a great personal story and good reading. Parents of children with autism who are interested in DAN! doctors and non-traditional therapies might benefit more from reading Mother Warriors, whose back chapters list an impressive collection of resources.


Christopher said...

1.) Vaccines do not cause autism.
2.) Isn't Jenny McCarthy married to Jim Carrey?

Nathan said...

Nick Hornby is a better author with an autistic child. Hotter, too.

Meagan said...

Jenny McCarthy is Jim Carey's partner. They are not married.