Rodney & Holly Robinson Peete: From Austim To Awesome
Their success in the sports and entertainment worlds couldn’t prepare them for the awful truth they heard in the doctor’s office over a decade ago. But celebrity Apprentice star Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, somehow found the strength to face their son’s autism diagnosis.
“After we both kind of cried and said, `Why us?’ But Holly very soon after that rolled up her sleeves and said, `Let’s get to work,”‘ Rodney recalls. “I was the opposite. I was angry more than anything else … I didn’t like to hear what the doctor was saying.”
In his recent autobiography, “Not My Boy!”, Rodney tells the intimate story of his family’s struggle with the diagnosis of R.J., (Rodney James), now 18.
At the time, R.J. was 3, a fraternal twin to his sister Ryan, who showed no symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a toddler, R.J. was starting to form words, but around 2, he stopped talking and responding to his name or making eye contact. He began flapping his hands and flicking his ears in repetitive motion.
The Peetes took the twins to the best pediatrician they could find after R.J.’s preschool teacher told the couple he was not teachable. He needed physical, occupational and speech therapy, the doctors confirmed.
“My anger and denial left me in a lonely world,” Rodney writes. “I still thought when the (football) season was over and I could spend every day with him, we would fix this in our own way. I’d be his dad and I’d snap him out of this.”
So doing what he knew best, Rodney headed to the nearest sporting goods store to load up on soccer balls, footballs, baseballs, bats and…