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Jenny McCarthy is not normally a name associated with serious issues. The actress and former Playboy Playmate of the Year from Chicago is known to be one of the funniest actresses in Hollywood, and is the author of several humorous books on not-so-humorous topics, such as pregnancy and motherhood. Yet September 18 saw the release of a book that tells a “heartbreaking story of a serious issue”, an issue that is close to her heart. Louder Than Words tells of her son’s struggle with autism, how it affected their family, and their mission to find a cure.

McCarthy’s son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism in 2002, causing him to be extremely sensitive to air and water. It is a brain disorder that affects 1 in 150 children, and can cause problems with children’s communication, social interaction, and creative abilities. It often persists through adulthood. McCarthy hopes her new book, which chronicles the hurdles Evan and his mother have faced, will help others who are in a similar position.

“This book is everything to me,” said the 35 year old star of movies such as Scream 3 and Scary Movie 3. “It’s about faith. It’s about loving your child no matter what. It’s about acceptance.”

Since Evan was diagnosed, McCarthy has been actively involved with organizations and fundraising events dealing with autism. In June 2007, she hosted a Celebrity Dinner Gala and Charity Golf Tournament for the HEAL! Foundation, which raised over $400,000 for the non-profit organization. HEAL! (Healing Every Autistic Life) was founded in 2004 by parents Bobby and Leslie Wood, and paediatrician, Julie Wood, MD. It supports families of children who suffer from autism, and is committed to helping them grow into adults that are accepted and useful members of the community. Based in Ponte Vedra Beach, it does this by addressing education, awareness, treatment, research, and prevention. McCarthy is also the new spokesperson for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), a similar organization which provides resources and support to families affected by autism in California.

Through these organizations, McCarthy approached Dr Jerry Kartzinel, of Paediatric Partners in Ponte Vedra. With his help and support, Evan is now able to express himself and hold full conversations.

“When my son was diagnosed, I had this vision in my head of him playing with his friends at a birthday party,” said McCarthy. “And on May 18, that came true. And he’s doing really great.”

The rest of September will be busy for McCarthy, with a national tour promoting the book, as well as appearances on Oprah and several other shows. She hopes her work will reach out and give hope to those in need, and will assist with increasing the quality of life for those that suffer from the debilitating disease.

“I want our children to start each day in silent meditation. I want organic cafeterias, outdoor class sessions… I want it all.”

More information on “Louder Than Words” can be found at www.talkaboutcuringautism.org and www.healautismnow.org.

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