I'm a little bit behind, it seems, on the news magazines. I read an excellent article in the March 8th (I told you I was behind!) Time Magazine by Karl Taro Greenfeld on Jenny McCarthy, queen of parents of children with autism and enemy of inoculations. Karl brings a certain authenticity: as well as an excellent writer in his own right, he is the son of Josh Greenfeld, and brother to Noah, who was the subject of three books, beginning with A Child Called Noah, which told the saga of the Greenfeld family's dealings with autism.
Jenny is quite certain that she has cured her child from autism and holds out the same hope to others. Her credentials? She is a mother.
Odd. I work with children with autism, and in some cases it is clear that the mother is the problem. The failure to say no, the failure to consistently apply consequences and overwhelming guilt that makes them pursue every cock-a-mamie scheme often creates monsters. One of my students, on a home visit, locked himself in his mother's room, indulged his obsession with fecal smearing and spent the holiday watching television, eating from the trays his mother left outside the door. We have never had those problems in school.
So, I cured him of that. Last week I learned incidents of aggression in another student dropped by half in three months. I must have cured him of that. I'm on quite a roll! Oh, and none of my children with autism indulge in stereotypic behavior, which is common among children with autism. I CURED THEM ALL!! And best of all, confidentiality prevents me from revealing their names. Since we are a residential treatment facility, HIPAA further protects their privacy. So, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah NYAH! You just have to take my word for it!! I may not be a mother, but I have a Master of Education degree, so I must have CURED AUTISM.. Aren't you impressed?
Yes, I believe it is important to listen to parents. Yes, I believe that we need to think outside the box and try a variety of therapies. But I don't think we should disregard empirical scientific evidence, especially if it puts whole populations in danger of contracting measles, rubella, and other childhood diseases which have almost been eradicated because of inoculations. If anecdotal information is enough to prove our point than take mine. I HAVE CURED AUTISM.
So, Oprah, give me a call. Where's my book contract?
Oh, and if you think I'm really serious, check the date!