Despite criticism from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Jenny McCarthy says she helped her son, Evan, recover from autism.
The actress - who believes the MMR vaccine was to blame for her son's diagnosis - says a strict no wheat-and-dairy-free diet has changed her son from a quiet little boy who used to flail his arms around to a loving six-year-old.
"Before the vaccination, he was huggy, lovey, snuggly," she says in the newest issue of Us Weekly. "Then it was like someone came down and stole him."
McCarthy, 36, remembers when Evan began to come out of his shell while watching a SpongeBob episode. "I heard Evan laugh...I jumped on the bed and started screaming."
She adds, "When he finally hugged me, I prayed, 'Please God don't let this be the only time.'"
McCarthy has become an outspoken advocate for autism awareness, often courting controversy along the way (doctors have accused her of creating fear of necessary vaccines). She's the bestselling author of five books, including her newest, Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds. She's also constantly researching on sites like like AgeofAutism.com and GenerationRescue.org
"I made a deal with God," she explains. "I said, 'You fix my boy, you show me the way and I'll teach the world how I did it.'"
She's even reached out to John McCain - who spoke about the importance of autism awareness during Wednesday's debate - without much success.
"We tried," says McCarthy - who currently labels herself a Democrat. "McCain had come out and said he thinks there's enough evidence between vaccines and autism, so I got on a helicopter [to meet him for] an on-camera interview. By the time I got there, the campaign manager said, 'He's ahead in the polls, and this is too controversial, and he doesn't want to go one way or the next.'"
The mom has avoided one controversial critic: Denis Leary, who blamed "inattentive mothers" for autism in his new book, Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid. (He later said his words were taken out of context)
For more on the specific ways McCarthy helped her son recover from autism and how beau Jim Carrey supports her, pick up the newest issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.