Toni Braxton on son's PDD-NOS symptoms

02/01/2007 at 05:30 PM ET

This past Monday’s episode of The View was dedicated to discussing autism, which affects 1 in 166 children. The guest host on the show was singer Toni Braxton, who’s son Diezel, 3 1/2, was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified) last fall. PDD-NOS is the classification often given to children under age 5 who are displaying signs of a pervasive developmental disorder, of which autism is the most severe. Diezel’s case is on the milder side.

Last October, Toni was angry at his doctors, saying,"They dismissed me. I don’t know if it would have made a difference or not for him to be diagnosed earlier, but they had a ‘wait and see’ attitude. It makes me so angry because a mother knows when something is wrong with her child."

However, Toni showed a much softer side on The View on Monday, when she broke down crying while discussing Diezel’s symptons. She said,

No eye contact, he didn’t play along with his brother [Denim, 5], he played to the side. All the kids would be in the house – he would be away from them. He had to have an order. Always an order. Had to eat on the red plate, with the Mickey Mouse fork. Everything had to be in order. He had to sit on the left side, always.  I get all emotional. I just found out…so, when you’re just finding out something it takes a second to get used to it…everyone has been so helpful to me.

For more on the episode, visit Watching The View.

You can watch the video by clicking below (start at 3:50 for Toni’s piece) but please be aware that it is upsetting, as Toni is crying throughout.

Please share your experiences with your children along the autism spectrum in the comments, if you feel so inclined.


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Christina on

It is nice to know that FINALLY more is being done for these children and families. My son is six and was finally diagnosed with Autism last year. It took us four years before we got a diagnosis. Our doctors stood by us all the way. The thing that is the hardest is that he has a mild form and people just think he is spoiled and that I am a bad mom. Remember with early intervention and people giving Autism a voice these children do have a chance in life. I hope and pray for Toni and her family during this journey. Remember – you are not alone we need each other.

Tracy on

We, too, have a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and were also incredibly frustrated with most doctors “wait and see” attitude. Our son was our third-born, so we knew very early on that something was very different about him. We were lucky enough to go with our gut and not stop with just a pediatrician’s diagnosis … we went straight to a neurologist and developmental pediatrician when he was just over a year old. They put him into a very hard-core regimen of occupational and speech therapies beginning at 15 months. He’s now 3 1/2 and his symptoms are GREATLY improved (i.e. wasn’t speaking AT ALL at 2 1/2, but now we can’t shut him up; now makes eye contact; isn’t as rigid with routines as he once was; SLEEPS! — a HUGE deal after not sleeping for 2 yrs!! etc.). These specialists are working under the theory that a child’s brain can be re-trained before their 5th birthday, so as early of an intervention as possible, the better according to them. Our son, while still *unique* compared to other kids his age, is not nearly as “in a shell” as these poor autistic children who enter this therapy program at 3 yrs+ b/c of that “wait and see” approach. If your heart tells you something is wrong, it probably is.
I felt so badly for Toni, as I have felt the same heartache. However, it does bother me that Autism (which is now alarmingly effecting 1 in 166 births) does not get the attention of the world until a celebrity’s child is diagnosed. We need to find out WHY so many children are being stricken with this!

Callen on

Very true Christina! Even though he and your son have Autism. They are still very healthy children and normal. I dont experience this. But I hope children who are affected by this are treated wih respect and that the parents are given props! There is nothing more hurtful than not being able to make everything better for your child. God Bless you. And I hope everything works out.

DivaMommy on

Thank you for posting this! My 8 year old son has also been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, and it is just like Christina pointed out above…many people just think “oh, you are just a bad mother who has spoiled their kid”…not true! I wish it were that simple! If they only had to walk a mile in my shoes and others like Christina and Toni Braxton and countless other mothers/fathers/families who deal with this.

Anyway, I think it is a good thing that a celebrity is speaking out about it…yes, it would be better if awareness could be raised without this happening, but at least it *is* happening. Remember how no one was talking about HIV/AIDS in the 80s until Elizabeth Taylor started speaking out? At least Toni Braxton is lending her voice to autism awareness and that is a good use of her celebrity. We all need to support each other and support these amazing, special kids!

Campbell on

Poor gal was so shell shocked… i dont have her experience but I am a mother…. and I wanted to hear and feel everything she spoke about. The show was very informational (is that a word? lol) and I was glad to get all the families perspectives on autism. Thank you to “the view” for dedicaing a show… you will be hard pressed to see other networks be so brave.

Katie on

I was glad to see the show and Toni talking about her son. My adorable son Evan who just turned 3 is also diagnosed with mild Autism PDD. We just got him started in school in an early childhood autism classroom and an intensive early intervention hospital program that just started this month which focuses on teaching us as parents on how to help our son in every way possible. It has been only 3 months since his offical dignosis but I have always known and the lack of understanding from other people, espically parents is very frustrating at times. I had a family member tell me to my face that I shouldn’t listen to the doctors that his only problem is being spoiled and lazy and I was so enraged. I am glad and supportive of getting the word out to others and educating the world on learning to accept and expect these unique and speical children and to be prepared to offer them what they require for their speical needs.

Kasia on

I’m from Poland. My eldest son Ernest was diagnosed with autism when he was two. I even didn’t realized what’s going on with him. It was obvious when everybody started to compare him to his younger brother, who was 10 months old, but his contact with people was much more better than his older brother (then about 2 years old) Ernest looked so normally, but he didn’t talk, the eye contact with him was poor, he was interested in objects, not in people. We visited a lot of doctors. They ordered to wait, they didn’t care about my feelings, they suggested that it was my fault or said: “he looks differently, so he can be different”(my children are mixed – their father comes from Ghana). I was 20 years old and ready to get suicide but I had children.
I remember that hard time very, very well. I think the fact that I fully accepted his disease finally, helped us a lot.
Now Ernest is 19. He is a wonderful boy – son and brother. He can do everything except reading and writing. I don’t have idea how to teach him. He goes to school. He loves to travel with his class, going to the cinema, watching TV, help me at home. In Poland there aren’t many good psychologists or psychiatrist . I visited the best autism specialists in our country and they didn’t have much ideas of the therapy.
I’m single mother with three children and always feel guilty that I don’t work enough with him.
I would only like him to be happy and best prepared for life.
I understand Toni very well. I was crying with her.

Mel on

Unfortunately, Callen, some of these children are not healthy. My 7 year old has ASD and has many gastro issues. His pain always created more intense ASD ‘behaviors”. As we have controlled these medical issues, we have seen a marked decrease in his symptoms/behaviors. I think that autism has many biomedical aspects that are largely ignored (by doctors). It’s not easy and it is not cheap (I have the medical bills to prove it along with bills for tons of therapy and other treatments) but my son went from totally non-verbal at 2 years 10 months to in a regular ed 1st grade classroom at age 7. He still has issues to overcome but we see daily progress. Although I didn’t see The View, I cry for Toni Braxton. I know what it is like to feel like you have a mountain to climb and I wouldn’t wish this on any child or family.

I pray that there is more research on this epidemic so that we can have more interventions and treatments to help our children and can possibly prevent it from affecting future children. I read someone say that autism is to present-day medicine what the fever was in the 1700s. I’m ready for researchers to focus on causation and treatment.

Tracy on

Mel – I agree whole-heartedly with you. My ASD 3 yr old has extensive sensory issues, with the worst encompassing eating, which has greatly impacted his health and growth. I wanted to thank you for your posting that your child went from non-verbal @ 2 (like we were) to a normal 1st grade classroom. It gives me tremendous hope to hear that, and I’ll think about that if/when I’m feeling discouraged during our treking back and forth to therapy 5x next week! =)
Christina – I also agree with you completely on feeling judged by people who don’t understand. It’s not like my sweet 3 1/2 year old can wear a sign that says “I’m autistic” for all of those folks who give me that nasty glance while he is melting down at Walmart screaming for his pacifier because it helps soothe him in places he has “issue” with. Anyway – just wanted you to know that your post made me feel better in just knowing others feel the same as I. While I’d give anything not to be a part of this “club”, it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone. =)
-Tracy

Tracy on

By the way… if anyone is interested, YouTube has 3 additional clips from that hour on the view that were very infomative and encouraging. Keywords View and Autism.

Christina on

I was glad to see the ladies of The View addressing this topic. It was particularly nice to see Temple Grandin, Ph.D., who is an autistic adult on, as well.

Our daughter is the same age as Diezel and has also recently been classified as being on the Autism Spectrum. And there is a whole gamut of feelings that run through us about it.

On the other hand, like Toni, we are grateful that she has been diagnosed early, so that we will have as much time to work with her as we possibly can. Early Intervention makes such a huge difference to so many on the spectrum.

We are hopeful and remain about the future! After all, we love our daughter for *who* she is, not what she does…

Gabbie13 on

Although I don’t have children of my own, I am a kindergarten teacher and I give kudos out to all of you wonderful mothers and Toni. Unfortunately, autism is on the rise (I went from one student in my classroom 3 years ago to 4 this year!). I give kudos to you for making sure you are doing every thing in your power to help give your child the most normal life possible. And for speaking out about PDD/Autism. I have come across several parents through teaching that refuse to admit that thier child has Autism (or some form) and the only person they are hurting is thier child. There are so many services available to children and the earlier they start intervention programs the better. Thank you to Toni and all of you wonderful mothers (and fathers too!) for making your voice be heard and putting your child’s needs first.

Joyce on

I am so glad to see a celebrity speak up about their child with Autism. Thank you.
My son Andy has asperger syndrome. He is now 23, living independently with support from an agency in Brandon, Manitoba. Have no fear! Andy was diagnosed with PDD and I fought to have him labelled as autistic so that we could get the supports he would need. It was an uphill battle but he graduated cum laude in 2001. I was surprised (as I have already told Rosie and Barbara) that the US did not seem to have the supports in place that CANADA does. We are so closely related and the US was where our first contacts for information came from but our neighbors to the south seem to leave your vulnerable persons without support after 21.
I really hope that that is not the real way of things. We have passed the “vulnerable Persons Act” in Canada and we support these valuable people lifelong. I cannot imagine a world without people with mental challenges!
Keep striving for something better. We all need to work together. Thank you.

Been there,
Joyce

Lynda on

We too have a son, Cameron who has PDD/NOS – autism. We were lucky to have a great Pediatrician who caught some of the signs early on. After countless speech/OT/behavioral therapy/group social skills classes and 1 on 1 ABA treatments, Cam is fully integrated into Kinder. Most people can’t even tell he has a diagnosis. He is a smart, funny, intense boy. Like a lot of the mom’s commenting here, I get judged a lot from other parents. I have found great support in other parents who have children on the spectrum. Sometimes it’s fun to compare crazy stories, like the tampon machine Cam made for me, or even discuss therapies and suggestions for treatment. Good luck to all!

renee on

My heart is hurting for Diezel i remember when i saw Toni having him on t.v..I knew something was wrong with the little angel then.He is so handsome and i’m sure he is gonna get all the help he needs from his family and others.God bless the family hold on Toni you all have his hand and god has his back.

renee on

My heart is hurting for Diezel i remember when i saw Toni having him on t.v..I knew something was wrong with the little angel then.He is so handsome and i’m sure he is gonna get all the help he needs from his family and others.God bless the family hold on Toni you all have his hand and god has his back.

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