Sunday, December 6, 2009
Mother Warriors: Review and Commentary
-Originally posted on November 18, 2008 at www.exceptionalfamilies.net.
On a recent trip I had some quiet moments to read and I found myself engrossed by Jenny McCarthy’s latest book, Mother Warriors. I admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of her previous book, Louder than Words, but her new book spoke to me and I finished it in less than a day. Much to my surprise, I found myself in tears by the end. No matter your opinion of Jenny McCarthy, she is one of the top VOCAL advocates for the autism community and is pushing nerves and helping spread the word that there’s a big problem. I am a parent of two diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and I am trying to make a difference and be vocal in my own community. Jenny can do what I cannot – give major television interviews, write best-selling books, and generally increase the national awareness about the autism epidemic. I admire her passionately stepping up to say something despite the controversy of the topic.
Chapter 2 of Mother Warriors is an extended analogy that Jenny provides about the plight of many families dealing with autism. A child appears normal and then one day something changes and the child seems to be lost (often very suddenly) to autism. Many believe that vaccines triggered their child’s autism. In the words of Francis Collins, “Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger.” Chapter 2 is a bit long to copy into a blog, but it provides a great new perspective that is worthwhile to share in its entirety.
“Imagine watching your child climb up a flight of stairs. He slips on a stair and cuts his knee open and begins gushing blood. The cuts are deep, and you immediately wash away the blood, wrap up the knee, and head to the hospital. Once you get there, the doctor asks what happened. You reply, ‘He climbed up some stairs and he fell and got hurt.’
Now imagine the doctor telling you it’s not possible that your child got this hurt from stairs. ‘But I saw him climb stairs and fall and I saw his knee split open,’ you explain.
Again, the doctor says, ‘It’s not possible.’
And you repeat, ‘But I saw it happen!’
Then the doctor tells you that climbing up stairs is safe. But you know what you saw with your own eyes and so you insist, ‘But obviously sometimes it’s NOT safe. Look at my child. I saw him get hurt!’
The doctor just keeps shaking his head and denies that stairs could ever harm a child.
This is how black and white it is for us moms who have children with autism. We had healthy beautiful children who climbed up stairs perfectly until one stair caused them to fall. We have witnessed the neurological downfall of our children after certain vaccinations, but when we tell the doctors what we saw, they don’t believe us. Can you imagine how frustrating this is?
Let’s take the stair scenario a step further. After the doctor rejects your claims, you decide to treat the wound yourself. You learn about natural and alternative treatments, which you try out, and your child’s knee heals to the point where you can barely see any marks. Now imagine you go to the doctor for a follow-up visit and this time you see a different doctor. The doctor looks at your child’s knee strangely and says, ‘This must be the wrong knee.’
You explain, ‘No, this is the knee that split open.’
The doctor says, ‘It can’t be because it healed up. There is no way an injury like that could heal. The hospital must have mistaken the severity of the wound.’
You reply, ‘No, doctor, I healed the wound myself by cleaning it out and treating my child with natural remedies.’
The doctor then looks at you strangely. He begins to laugh at you and tells you that your son never really had an open wound to begin with. You stand there with your mouth open.
‘Yes, he did, doctor. Take a look at the medical records. He was seen in YOUR hospital!’
The doctor replies, ‘It must have been a mistake on his records. He never had a wound here.’
This is exactly how it is when a child with autism gets better. No one believes he had anything wrong with him to begin with. People think these recovered children were misdiagnosed. The reason recovery is controversial is because we are healing these kids by treating the injuries caused by the vaccines or the environmental toxins rather than the autism itself. When we treat these things, the symptoms of the autism get better. The medical community is terrified to come within ten feet of detoxing metals out of these kids because it will point the finger directly at what everyone is so scared to admit. Vaccines CAN trigger autism.
There are two controversies about autism: first, the causes, and second, whether children can recover. A battle is raging in the medical community, but there is a growing army of mothers who are fighting for their children and witnessing recovery firsthand. Imagine a world in which we all are fighting on the same side to help make children with autism better. The time to unite is now.”
Our family did not have a defining moment of autism where one day our boys were fine and the next they weren’t, but I know plenty of people who believe their child suffers from autism due to vaccine injury. I empathize with their struggles and do not dispute their stories. With all of the reading and research I have done, I know there is something to it that many doctors do not recognize or are unwilling to recognize.
I was thinking how our kids may be the canaries of our generation. Much like the canaries in the coal mine, our kids with autism could very well be the first indication of a greater environmental danger that we are unable to detect on our own. I have come to be a firm believer of the effect of toxic load on children. The way I like to think about autism is that our kids each have a row of dominoes stacked just so, with each one a possible trigger or tipping point. There are many dominoes, and each domino on their own is seemingly insignificant, such as: allergies, reflux, eczema, ear infections, diarrhea, food intolerances, asthma, chemicals in the home, pesticides on our food, heavy metals exposure, fluoride and chlorine in our water, candida overgrowth, the vaccine schedule, genetic predisposition, etc. The list seems to be endless and I have by no means included everything that could ultimately be involved. When one or more of these dominoes gets bumped and the dominoes are close enough together for the bump to make an impact, I believe it triggers the cascading fall into autism. The sum of all of the parts equates to a life-changing diagnosis.
I know for a fact that when you treat the underlying toxicities, the symptoms of autism CAN improve. For instance, my youngest son was nonverbal, constantly having tantrums, screaming, had trouble with balance, had a decreased ability to feel pain, and was an extremely picky eater, among other things. After not getting adequate help from the traditional medical community, and getting the advice from a pediatric nutritionist to put him on Ensure to supplement his diet of McDonalds chicken nuggets and French fries, I took matters into my own hands. I HATED the idea of trying the GFCF diet considering I would have to remove the only food my kids would eat, but finally forced the issue when I requested a food allergy test. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that both of my boys diagnosed on the autism spectrum had multiple food allergies, and the one with the most severe symptoms had the most allergies!
Needless to say, I gave away all of the food in my house and completely started over. The entire family went on the GFCF (gluten free, casein free) diet COLD TURKEY. Due to the diagnosed allergies, wheat/gluten, dairy, soy and egg were now all off limits. This was not an easy feat. I spent about $1,000 on new food in 30 days, trying every allergy-free food item I could find. I checked out lots of books from the library, went online to research and find recipes, bought a few cookbooks, and literally taught myself a new way of cooking in a matter of a few days.
The first week was simply awful. We had immensely expensive new food, not all of it palatable, and a very moody and picky eater who went on a hunger strike for 4 days. His behaviors got even worse, likely complicated by his hungry tummy and the pain of the detoxification process. It took all my strength to keep moving forward despite what seemed to be a setback. After two weeks of sheer hell, my son began to talk. Just like that. One day he was our “tantrum boy” and two weeks of detox later, he was talking and the balance problems seemingly disappeared. Within 1 month of starting the diet he was talking in short sentences, singing the alphabet, and counting to twenty in Spanish. His improvement was exponential and he hasn’t stopped since. If you knew him before the diet changes and saw him now, you wouldn’t recognize him. His autism symptoms have improved because of decreasing his toxic load. It’s that simple. This significant change was the first really major step forward in our journey. We have made other changes since then that continue to positively contribute toward both of my boys’ improvements.
Many times we as parents need to go beyond treating behaviors, aiding motor abilities, providing sensory input, or helping with speech. There are often physical issues to deal with, but the trick is figuring out what they are. Just like the spectrum of autism and its many variations and severities, the symptoms and physical treatments will vary based on each individual. A great resource for learning about the various treatment options and the parent-reported success rates of each treatment is the Autism Research Institute at www.autism.com.
The bodies of our kids are like a barometer. Our children feel the storm inside of them but may not have the ability to share it with us. Their barometric pressure is rising silently with the sometimes subtle physical clues, and we need to pay attention. Parent warriors, both mothers and fathers, need to be vigilant to figure out what their child’s storm is, and then help it pass from their bodies. When we search and try new things (supplements, diet, chelation, etc.), there will be failures, but the successes can be significant and wonderful to behold. I would encourage you to be open to all the possibilities of improvement, despite how traditional or alternative they may be. Sometimes stepping outside your comfort zone is the solution, as I have personally experienced.
Stories like that of my son weave through Jenny McCarthy’s book. The final chapter of Mother Warriors encapsulated everything for me. I wanted to stand up and cheer! Here is Chapter 29 – short but great.
“If there was ever a need for a call to action to mothers around the world, the time is right now. What’s going on in the world can no longer be overlooked or discredited. People can say there is no science to support our beliefs about the causes of autism and ways to treat it, but there is plenty of evidence. Just walk into the homes of families who have children with autism. They’ll be happy to introduce you to their science.
When did people become so trusting of government organizations or even paramedical companies? Sooner or later, many of these organizations become corrupt. It’s inevitable. Remember when they told us smoking was good for our health? Remember when they told us autism was because of emotionally cold and lazy mothers? How many times have medications come on the market, deemed safe, and then pulled off the market owing to major side effects? Are we to believe that ALL thirty-six vaccinations given now are ALL safe with no side effects? Give me a break. Are we supposed to buy the fact that these shots are one-size-fits-all? Or that every child is born with a perfect immune system? Wake the hell up, America, and think hard about the logic in this.
In the meantime, I hope mothers across America will join me in our fight to change this insane vaccine schedule and demand that they GREEN our vaccines. Take the crap out! Enough is enough.
These kids are here for a reason, a much bigger purpose than we are all probably even aware of. They are showing us we need to make some major changes in this world and we need to care for our bodies and for this planet. We have to listen to the message they bring and assist them in every possible way we can. They are the messengers and we are the doers. So let’s start doing something about it.”
What a great ending! Hooray for all the parent warriors out there! Despite the obstacles, keep on the path you know is right. Let’s proceed shoulder to shoulder in the unity of community. Please continue to hope for your child and never give up the fight for them!
For more information about the Jenny McCarthy’s latest book, Mother Warriors, visit www.generationrescue.org.