In the few years since actress Jenny McCarthy's son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism, Jenny has taken awareness of the disorder to a national level. Through her appearances on talk shows and her book Louder than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism, people across America are now understanding what autism is and how it can be treated and perhaps prevented. Holly and Rodney, who have a son of their own with autism, talk with Jenny about her personal campaign and her plans for the future.
Jenny says her work as an actress was key in helping her raise awareness and get answers about autism. "It is amazing what celebrity can do if you do it with 100 percent good intention and heart," she says. As more and more parents of autistic children come forward for help and information, Jenny has found herself becoming a champion of sorts. "I speak in front of one to two thousand parents [of autistic children] a week," she says. "The same thing they keep saying to me over and over is, 'Thank you because now people don't think I'm crazy.'"
While many parents of autistic children look to Jenny and the organizations she works with for vaccination, diet and other health information, some in the medical community have tried to criticize her stance on some autism-related issues. Jenny says she isn't afraid to debate those people. "It's so easy when you stand on truth," she says. "When you stand on truth, no one can knock you down."
Along with her continued speaking engagements, rallying events in Washington and other autism-related work, Jenny continues to act—making guest appearances on sitcoms—and is writing a new book. Her relationship with actor Jim Carrey is still going strong, but Jenny says she doesn't see having more children in her future. "I have no room left to worry for another child," she says. "It wouldn't be fair because [Evan's] health is still such a huge concern of my daily life."