Saturday, 18 May 2013
Louder Than Words by Jenny McCarthy
I couldn't put this book down! I wanted to read the book because my neighbor of several years has a boy with autism. I was hoping to get an idea about what it's like for her to raise him. This book didn't do that because my neighbor boy doesn't have it as severely. I am grateful for that. However, it may be because she puts in the work to make life as normal as possible for him. This book gave me an idea about that work involves.
While some mothers recognize traits of autism almost from birth, Jenny McCarthy watched her son begin to regress around at the age of 2 when he began to have seizures. Reading how her wonderful little boy became a zombie right before her eyes was absolutely heartbreaking.
One thing I love about Jenny is how bold and honest she is. She didn't clean up her language to make herself look better. She didn't pretend to have all the answers. She didn't leave her son to be fixed by the medical industry alone. She admitted mistakes and wrote about the toll having an autistic son took on her marriage.
The way she never stopped searching for answers and helping her son recover was nothing less than heroic. For that the book deserves five stars. Hell, having the courage to write this book also deserves five stars.
However, if I was the poor mother of a child not recovering from autism, I think I would hate this book.
At the beginning of the book Jenny was treated by the hospitals like any other mother in America. She was bossed around by no nothing doctors who put making money over the proper care of patients. She was just like the rest of us parents. I would be giving the staff hell too if that was how I was being treated. (Actually I have when my son laid bleeding from the head and patients with less severe afflictions were seen before him.)
Partway through, Jenny McCarthy stopped being like other average mothers.
No mother I know could drop seven thousand dollars in an instant to fly home or buy tickets for a private jet so they can come home every night. They can't buy a $5000 heart monitor The mothers I know don't have the money to go to the best doctors in the country. Most of them barely have the money for the medical care of a healthy child, much less a severely ill child. They certainly wouldn't have the money for all the therapy and alternative treatments Jenny was able to give her son. I would bet you even if they have good insurance it wouldn't cover these alternative treatments.
She was able to afford his top of the line treatments even after divorcing her husband and having to pay him half her income in alimony! (I would also love to hear his side of the story.)
There's simply no denying Jenny's son recovered "in the window" because she was able to give her son the best treatment money can buy. I learned a great deal about autism, the causes, and the treatments but I want to read a book by a parent who is like me. I want to read about what it's like for an average parent or better yet, a below average parent, to have a son with autism.
I don't deny that Jenny McCarthy has done a tremendous service to the autism community by writing this book and advocating for autism awareness, but surely she is aware other kids don't recover from autism because their parents can't afford the best care.
At the very end of the book Jenny adds a disclaimer. My child was lucky. Your child may not recover as well as mine did. At no point does she ever admit this is because her son had opportunities average kids do not have.
I was curious to know if this was just my opinion or if it was shared by others. It was defiantly shared by others. Here are some other people who feel the same on Amazon:
"However as a non-celeb mom trying to find ways to deal with autism and not go bankrupt in the process, I had a hard time identifying with Jenny's journey since she seems to have a lot of money to put towards her son's treatment."
"I wonder if Jenny could appreciate the challenge facing other parents with autistic children, who cannot afford a nanny to help out, who cannot afford intensive therapy, who may have been kicked off their medical insurance plans. Now that would be an interesting follow-up book."
"Unfortunately Ms. McCarthy, not EVERYONE has millions of dollars they can spend on medical expenses. I felt this was a slap in the face to all the other parents who live with an autistic child that cannot afford to buy expensive foods, dietary supplements, or treatments."
"She loses rapport with her intended audience by highlighting how much she can spend on him."
I could add a dozens more comments just like these.
Also, the fact that she kept asking "Why doesn't the medical industry tell you about the risks of vaccines, about the possible causes of autism, and how effective alternative treatments are?" I kept expecting her to put two and two together to make four but it never happened. It's all about money! If the medical doctors tell people that their child can be cured with diet or that not all kids should get immunizations they are going to lose millions of dollars in profit. Jenny McCarthy is a smart woman but her failure to make this connection was just stupid.
Overall the book was a page turner and for that I want to give it five stars, but I just can't. Jenny McCarthy's son's recovery from autism was the exception, not the rule. In the end, I can only give it.