In the summer of 2012, Jacqueline Laurita revealed to the world that her son Nicholas had been diagnosed with autism. Since then, she's used the diagnosis not just as motivation to help her own child, but parents of autistic children around the world looking for answers, techniques and practices that might help along the way. Now, in the next step of that journey, Jacqueline has launched her blog with Parenting Magazine.
In her first post, titled "Autism is Not a Shameful Secret," Jacqueline explains the emotional toll Nicholas' diagnosis and the experience leading up to it had on her and her family. It's honest and candid, as she opens up about the very moment she heard the news from the doctors:
"Nothing prepared us for the pain of hearing a professional say “Your child has autism.” Seeing the diagnosis written down on a piece of paper in front of our faces hit us hard. I got a lump in my throat, and found it hard to swallow. I could see the pain on my husband's face. The pediatrician gave us information on treatment options, and recreational activities for kids on the spectrum. ... I went home, hugged my husband, and cried until I couldn't cry anymore. I cried for myself; I cried for my husband; I cried for my other kids, and I cried for my Nicholas. After that one-day grieving period, I woke up the next morning focused on bringing out the best Nicholas that he could be. I began reading everything I could find on autism."
In late August, Jacqueline broke the news to People, saying that she and husband Chris "had no idea what was going on" before eventually getting the diagnosis from the doctors. In an emotional moment at the RHONJ reunion, Jacqueline broke down over seeing footage of Nicholas compiled by the show's producers.
I am so sympathetic to you Jacqueline!!!! I have a 12 year old boy on the spectrum and it is very hard to hear and to deal with. Before you know it, your entire family will grow to love and adore him. He will NEVER stick out to the people who love him. Please know, God chose you to be his mother as he knew you could do it and you would never give up. God would never give that precious little angel to Teresa as she could never handle it. Cry as much and as often as needed but please try to remember, you were chosen because God knew you would not let that little boy down. All my thoughts!!!!!!
Cheryl from Braintree, MA
I can't get over how MUCH this is happening! Mindboggling...I don't know the stats,, but we never heard of this as kids and now we hear about Autism all to often. For thos of us not directly involved, please keep us informed on causes, prevention and possible cures so we can help.
I started watching the Real Housewives of NJ because I could not believe that wealthy fortunate families could be so oblivious to the true values of life. I am really happy that you have decided to come forward with your son's diagnosis. Autism has become the silent epedemic, the states and goverment have not acknowledged how big the problem is because they would have to dedicate money to the battle. You have given the show substance and finally shown the real values of family.
I am a proud mom of a 6 year old non-verbal autistic boy. I knew when my son was an infant and he did not meet any milestones something was very wrong. Everyone around me said I was over reacting as a new mom and that boys are slower than girls in development. This was not an acceptable answer to me and even his doctor was not concerned, so I did research in the library and on the internet and brought him to every hospital and specialist I could find. We finally received a diagnoisis of PDD-NOS and enrolled him in Early Intervention until his 3rd birthday, he then went into an all-day Autistic Pre-school class in our town. He is now in a 1st grade Autistic class and making lots of progress. He can now say several words, enough to communicate most of his needs. He has low-tone and fine motor challenges, but is able to hold a pencil and eat with a fork. He still only eats a couple foods, I have not wanted to stress him with food programs since he does eat and is gaining weight. We have seen a year of achievments, he finally got potty-trained, he is able to use the computer, he can read simple words and do simple math. He has not achieved anything without hard work and a struggle, but he is learning and we hold much hope for his future. There are still meltdowns, and some days are better than others, but everyone has challanges in life. There is hope for many children effected by this disease. I have learned that my son is capable of more than I think and he needs to be challenged to fulfill his true potential even, if it takes a few tantrums first. I know one of the hardest parts of dealing with this disease is not knowing what the future hold. I still cry, mostly when I wonder if he will live on his own, marry and have children. But for now, we dedicate everyday to ensuring he is a happy little boy.I wish you all the best with your son. Thank you for helping with Autism awareness.
I watched that reunion and I don't remember seeing that video package or a mention of Autism. It is hard to watch because what Jacqueline and Chris went through is exactly what my husband Chris and I went through at almost the exact same time. The only difference was that I was pregnant with another boy when we found out. Talk about emotional! I remember after I had my "break down" then came out the other side (one day later) I went on every website I could find about the disorder. One of them had a story about a mother's journey and described it as "fighting against the current" until one day the realization washed over her like tidal wave that her son was dealing with Autism. I so want to believe that he was just delayed or going through something temporary, but eventually I became Super Mom who will do anything to help our children be the best he could be.
I remember seeing Jacqueline a bit stressed watching her boy take off on the show (I am a RHW junkie!) and hoping that she would not have to deal with the same thing I did. Now that she has, I am so happy to see her get the story out there. We need to support each other every step of the way.
I am a parent of a 14 year old autistic boy who is the love of my life. when A was diagnosed at 2 I was devastated. I quit work as an attorney and devoted 40-60 hours a week to work with A. A at 2 would rock and flap 90% of the day. No eye contact. Prior to his first birthday he was able to talk and sing songs. Within a month of his MMR, he was nonverbal and I thought deaf. A year later he was gone. At that time, 1/500 boys were diagnosed with autism. We were the beginning of the epidemic. Now at 14, A is still nonverbal but is a loving, caring, interactive boy who communicates through a device. He is completely receptive and has great eye contact. You can cure autism. Never lose hope. Autism allowed me to appreciate the little things others take for granted in a nonjudgmenal and open way. A is GFCF and has been for12 years. I owe everything to my doctor, Dr. Bradstreet. Embrace your little one and experience his joy as you bring him out of his world and into yours. Just dont forget to join him once in a while in his world because that world is safe one for him.
I've always liked you because you are very down-to-earth not like some others who think they "RULE THE WORLD!!" I think we both know who I am talking about, lmao. Anyway, I wish you much luck with your new blog in the magazine and I know you will be giving many parents a wealth of information. When I first heard about Nicholas I said "wow, why him and why that family?" You are such a great mother and Chris seems like such a great dad and husband and then I started to think well you know God gives people only as much as He knows they can handle and with His help, He has given you the strength to take this diagnosis and turn it into something that will help not only Nicholas but many other children with the same diagnosis. You now have the ability to get to know other people in your same situation and discuss all of the different options that are available to all of these children. I hope Nicholas is doing well (with a family as close and loving as yours) how can he not be! I LOVE YOU JACQUELINE AND I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU ON RHONJ FOR ANOTHER SEASON!! YOUR FAMILY IS ALWAYS IN MY PRAYERS. MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL TODAY AND ALWAYS!! BIG HUGS TO NICHOLAS FROM "A FAN."