Message boards are buzzin this morning about Jenny McCarthy’s appearance on last night’s Larry King Live and her sometimes emotional responses that included loudly hurling the the BS word. (I do hope her son wasn’t watching).
I’ve often jokingly(?) warned others that when it comes to moms of kids with special needs, you don’t want to unlease the beast within, believe me. There’s nuclear power in there.
Here’s my take on the whole brouhaha from last night. In the past, I’ve questioned whether, celebrity aside, Jenny McCarthy is the right spokesperson for autism (think clear understanding and presentation of the facts of the diagnosis and our obsession with celebrity expert culture). I still do. But one thing you can’t take away from this gutsy mom, She’s got people talking about and paying attention to autism, and she just took off the funny-lady gloves and turned it into a much-needed debate worthy of the seriousness of the topic.
Kids lives are at stake here and the numbers are escalating dramatically each and every day. With her outburst last night, I felt that for the first time, Jenny McCarthy seemed like just another frustrated, loving mom, not a celebrity. She seemed human, while finding out firsthand just how tough it is to impact real special needs change, even if blessed with coveted celebrity status that opens media doors and ensures interviews. The result was valuable coverage for a worthy cause we cannot ignore.
Say what you will about her approach (including questionable language use), but that kind of exposure is priceless. It was World Autism Awareness Day after all, and Jenny certainly got our attention. With that, came valuable attention for children and families who need our support now. She just needs to work a bit more on her advocacy skills and facts (and take some really deep breaths) if she’s going to continue to have impact where it counts (think political circles). Many people lack full awareness of how politics (and funding) impacts real change at the highest levels. But I think she (and Jim Carey) are up for the task. So bring on the March on Washington, complete with Carey in costume!
Now, if the media would just expand on this heated discussion and include a wide range of special needs challenges facing millions of other families each day (along with more non-celebrity advocate interviews from those living the realities each day and well versed in the facts), I’d be more content, and less likely to release the beast within me.
Autism is important, and so are the challenges facing millions of children and families with many other disabilities worldwide. So enough with the same old questions and guests each time this valuable air-time is granted, (hear that: Larry and others). Mix up the discussion, the topics, and the guests, please!
Producers: If you’re reading this rant, I’d love to chat more, and I promise not to swear.
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations