Sunday, September 23, 2007


Everyone remembers the number who had heard the song, but the girl's name? Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to? Tommy Tutone didn't have her in mind, but in my world I'm going to steal the song for my purposes and call her Jenny McCarthy. Jenny's our newest spokesmodel for the autism cause. I guess I have to fess up and say that I am a man and, as such, have a certain affection toward a woman who is both funny and sexy.

I did not see her appearance on Oprah, but it is very important, at least to me, to know about things that go out about autism in the media because this is often the only ideas that 'normal' folks get. We inside the autism community are locked in our own internal struggles, both at home and within the confines of the community itself, and we have little perception of what the real world thinks. Shows like Oprah shape opinion for millions. I grapple with the negativity that so many are against in the autism community. But there has to be a balance somewhere between the financial and emotional hardships that families face, without showcasing our children as out of control monsters.

In this case, from what I have read on the Oprah site and from second hand accounts, the appearance was a positive one for autistics, aside from the pro-biomed/anti-thimeresol message that so many find offensive. It has also been suggested that Jenny might be an opportunist just using her situation and celebrity to sell books, while I wouldn't doubt this is one of her top two reasons for touring at this point, I would think her situation is here to stay; and that while further books are sure to be on the way, Jenny is with the autism community to stay.

I wonder whether having a celebrity really gets the focus where it should be. It does allow people to see that it affects everyone and that the autistic child is still a 'normal' child, not a freak of nature. But with all the personal therapists, private schools and tutors nannies and the celebrities themselves taking a 6 month or 1 year hiatus to focus on their child, does the public get a reality-based view of educational, monetary and emotional turmoil faces by us ordinary parents and their ordinary children? Will these self absorbed stars even give a nod to these issues or will they continue on the existential view of causation, healing and reason for autistic existence.

In short, I applaud Jenny getting our number on the wall, I just hope we can open up more discussion topics like how it affects all of us and not just how it affects their careers...

1 comment:

scullywp said...

When 3 neighbors ask if I saw it and one of them actually DVR'd it for us, I'd say it was a success in raising awareness. :)