Holly Robinson-Peete and her son, RJ were all smiles at the 2017 NAACP Image Awards. The two were nominated for best literary work youth/teen category for the book, Same But Different Teen Life On The #Autism Express. While they did not take home the trophy, their presence on the red carpet spoke volumes about how far they’ve come since first finding out that RJ was diagnosed with Autism.
Holly and her husband, Rodney, Sr. weren’t prepared for the hardcore truth they heard in the doctor’s office over a decade ago. But the celebrity Apprentice star (Holly) and former NFL quarterback (Rodney), 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.”
READ: Here’s How To Tell If You Child Has Autism
In his autobiography, “Not My Boy!”, Rodney, Sr. 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…