Defending Jenny McCarthy

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs  over at AutismWonderland.

Last week, my Facebook feed blew up with several articles stating that Jenny McCarthy’s son may not have autism. A few of the articles were recent, citing articles that dated back to 2010.

Maybe I’m still feeling warm and fuzzy from the holidays or maybe it’s because one of my New Year Resolutions is to be more understanding. Whatever the reason, I found myself feeling a little sorry for McCarthy.

I am not a fan of Jenny McCarthy. I don’t agree with any of her views regarding vaccines as a cause nor do I strive to cure my son, Norrin, of autism. Norrin isn’t on a special diet and he’s never seen a Defeat Autism Now (DAN) doctor. And when I heard McCarthy was going to be on The View, I cringed because (I think) she is the last person who should have an open platform to discuss autism awareness.

Autism moms either love her or hate her. Many pediatricians wish she’d keep her opinions to herself. I think Jenny McCarthy’s views on autism create fear and guilt. So why should I care if someone writes that McCarthy’s son may not have autism?

We cannot expect people to accept autism and be aware if we continue to challenge what autism looks like. Autism is a broad spectrum disorder and it looks different for every individual. And an autism misdiagnosis is not out of the realm of possibility for anyone- especially since the criteria has recently changed.

Back in November I wrote This Is My Son. This is Autism describing what autism looks like for us. Someone questioned whether or not Norrin really had autism. And it bugged me. I felt judged. I felt as if I had to defend my son’s autism diagnosis to this person who never even met him. It wasn’t the first time someone questioned Norrin’s diagnosis. People often ask me if I’m sure because Norrin looks so “normal.”  After five years, I’m quite certain my son has autism.

In response to the articles, McCarthy took to Twitter to justify her son’s diagnosis:

Evan was diagnosed with autism by the Autism Evaluation Clinic at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital and was confirmed by the State of California (through their Regional Center). The implication that I have changed my position, that my child was not initially diagnosed with autism (and instead may suffer from Landau-Kleffner Syndrome), is both irresponsible and inaccurate. 

I’m not a doctor and I’ve never met Jenny McCarthy’s son. I can’t say whether or not McCarthy’s son has autism or if it’s something else. And I don’t think anyone else should either. Not unless it’s a doctor or medical professional who has spent time with McCarthy’s son and reviewed all of his medical history and evaluations.

I don’t agree with anything Jenny McCarthy believes when it comes to autism, but I believe that her son was diagnosed. And I believe that everything she has done – whether I agree with it or not – has been because she loves her son. And I believe that if there was a misdiagnosis, she’s bold enough to speak out on it. But it’s not for the internet to decide.

Because no mother should have to defend or justify their child’s autism diagnosis. Not even Jenny McCarthy.

Has your child’s diagnosis ever been questioned?

image via: Wikimedia Commons

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