06/23/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Jim Carrey: "Autism Made Me a Man"

On June 4th, I (and about 8000 close autism friends) attended Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey's "Green Our Vaccines" rally in Washington, DC. After marching a mile and a half in the nuclear, DC sun, we arrived on the lawn in front of the Capitol building for two hours of inspirational speeches by doctors, parents, advocates (like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) Jenny and her devoted beau, Jim Carrey.

Jim's speech included one line that has resonated with me. No, not "We are here! We are here!", although there were plenty of Horton Hears a Who-related chants at the rally. As he talked about the many rings of fire Jenny went through to help her son Evan, who was diagnosed with both autism and a seizure disorder, he said (I'm paraphrasing, I was too star struck to remember the exact words), "Autism made me a man." He made it clear that loving Jenny and Evan had changed him for the better. Wow. Break out the hankies people. He stopped me cold on a very hot day.

Autism snaps the backbone of many families. Or it turns a spine to steel, able to bend but never to break. On this Father's Day, I'd like to salute all of the fathers of kids with autism. Whether your child is a toddler, or approaching AARP membership, you deserve a salute. So here I go:

This post is for the dads who've stuck by their kids. To the single dads, who work overtime for their children. To the grandfathers who donate their time and money and knowledge and love to help their grandchildren. (Like my own wonderful Dad.) To the men who've learned now to make killer GFCF smoothies and who are willing to wake up at 1:00am to administer MB12 shots when Mom can't bear to do it. To the men who hold onto their child during a meltdown -- while Mom grabs the activated charcoal.

To the men who miss T-ball and soccer practices, instead going to speech therapy and social skills groups. To the men who can read an IEP as well as the baseball stats. To the men who will never give up believing that one day, their sons and daughters will greet them with words and a smile. To the men who spend more time laminating PECS than working on their pecs. To the men who find a new job, in a faraway state, to ensure better services for their children. To the men who are still saving for their child's college tuition, even while they scrimp and save to pay for ABA therapy and OT equipment in the basement. To the men who gave up careers to devote their days to their child's better health and functioning. To the men who stand by their wives and girlfriends and partners with strength, loyalty and the shelter of open arms. To the men who are planning for their daughters' weddings, not their group homes.

Happy Father's Day to all of you. And most especially, to the man in my own house who has stood by me and our daughters every day for over sixteen years; my husband Mark. You were a young man when I married you. You are a man among men now. Thank you. And I love you. Happy Father's Day.