A friend with a child on the spectrum recently tweeted her dismay in seeing numerous parents at her child's ball game reading Jenny McCarthy books. I understand, because I read Ms. McCarthy's Mother Warriors, and am myself distressed by how misinformed the author and her featured parents are regarding legitimate autism research, treatments, and literature.
Mother Warriors is not a book new autism families should be reading, so please don't recommend it to them. Parents and caregivers who don't know any better -- or whose libraries aren't stocking any other autism books -- are going to be stuck with a pitifully skewed, and largely unhelpful take on autism treatments and possibilities.
The main problem is that Mother Warriors is a compilation of testimonials. Ms. McCarthy really does believe what she's saying, and so do the other parents featured in her book. But if this was a book we could take seriously, someone would have edited the self-contradictory statements and omitted the factual errors that riddle its pages. If this was a legitimate information source for autism families, it would list resources besides the ones the author is promoting.
Trusting Jenny McCarthy with your autistic child's welfare and future is like asking an American who spent a couple of years working in an Israeli Red Sea Resort -- and thinks that's all the experience she needs -- to guide you through Gaza. She might be passionately dedicated, she may have even even weathered an attack or two. But she simply will not have the background or breadth of experience to speak for all of the people involved, or to guide you through areas of severest conflict. If you rely on her, there's a good chance you're going to be very, very sorry.
This is not to compare autism to a war zone, but to reiterate that new autism "recruits" are best served by veterans with extensive experience. This is especially true for families whose children are not as high-functioning as Jenny's son.
Autism families, you want better than Mother Warriors. Your autistic child deserves better. Please spread the word.
Update: My extended review of Mother Warriors elaborates on the statements above.
Seymour suggested that we blog and RT books that families of autistic children should be reading instead. Here are my top six:
Autism From Autistics' Perspectives:
Autism From a Parent's Perspective:
Autism Approaches and Therapeutic Techniques: