Yesterday's mail included a Jenny McCarthy article from a well-meaning friend of my mother's who wanted to know my opinion on everyone's favorite Warrior Mother.
I emailed her back, and told her that Jenny McCarthy's son is not like my son. And when people assume that our sons are alike, that I haven't tried to "save" my son, it makes me angry.
I wrote that basically, Jenny's son won the lottery, and Leelo didn't. So, of course there is some jealousy there, because who doesn't want to hit the jackpot? I want Leelo to feel comfortable in his skin, like her son. I want him to have the ability to tell me what he's thinking, what he wants, what would make him happy, what would keep him from being so frustrated and anxious all day long. But I am not bitter or resentful about Jenny's son's development, because I have observed the developmental trajectories and family efforts of enough children with autism to know that Jenny lucked out, that she got a kid with a variation on autism that is nothing like Leelo's.
But most lottery winners know that their good fortune came through luck, and they do not go on national TV telling other hopefuls how they, too, can be mega-winners. They do not ignore researchers who tell them that while there may be a system for winning the lottery in the future, right now all we can do is keep playing.
I don't even begrudge winners like Jenny for making more money by telling their own story. We all have that right. But she should know better than to exploit desperate wannabe-winners by selling or promoting products that will help them win, too. This is carpetbagging, this is peddling snake oil, and -- unless she intends to pull a Paul Newman and donate proceeds to families still struggling with autism -- this is vile opportunism. And it disgusts me.