Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete on their son RJ's autism

05/30/2007 at 03:09 PM ET

Former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, 41, and actress Holly Robinson Peete, 42, raise four children — twins Rodney Jackson ‘RJ’ and Ryan, 9 1/2, Robinson, 4 1/2, and Roman, 2 — but their toughest job as parents has been confronting RJ’s autism. The couple tell their story in this week’s issue of People.


Click below for the interviews, photos, and to leave/read comments.



I was really ready to be a dad and have a family. I thought, ‘I’m going to get him involved and put a football in his hand.’ I wanted him to be the smartest kid, the best athlete.

When he was 2, I remember RJ standing by himself. He had a glazed look in his eyes, like he was a million miles away. It broke my heart, and I started crying and trying to will him to play with the other kids. I could just tell that something was wrong. Everything Holly had said was making sense.

Later, when RJ came to my Panthers games, he was unable to grasp that amazing experience. I really wished he was able to: it would have been special for us both. But RJ is like me in many ways. We have a respect for one another.

A part of him thinks that I’m hard on him, but there’s that look in his eyes that tells me he craves structure and knows it comes from love. RJ wants to impress me with everything. He’ll say, ‘I did a good job today, Dad. Didn’t I do good today?’ And I’ll say, ‘Yeah, you did RJ. You did.’



RJ was born two minutes before his twin sister Ryan. He was the most delicious piece of butterscotch candy I had ever seen: chunky, laid-back, with these big eyes and dripping juicy lips. Something drew me to him.

When he started talking, ‘cow’ was his first word. ‘Cow, cow,’ he would say, pointing his fat fingers at the picture. He and his sister were hitting all their developmental milestones on time. He was sweet, had a great disposition and was always giving kisses and saying his few words. I will never forget that because one day he stopped. He went from saying, ‘cow, cow’ to nothing. Silence. Indifference.

That change happened when he was about 2 1/2, very soon after he had received his inoculations for measles, mumps, and rubella. I noticed he ceased making eye contact and responding to his name without loud repetitive shouts. ‘RJ, RJ, RJ!’ we would scream helplessly.

I called Rodney, who was traveling. ‘Something’s going on with RJ.’ And he said, ‘Maybe he can’t hear. Get his ears checked.’ But that wasn’t it. Rodney, like every man who felt helpless when he couldn’t fix things, called again. ‘Everything’s okay, right?’

But it wasn’t. Together we took RJ to a specialist. She was a rigid, hard-looking woman who sat us in this icy office. The room was cold; the toys were cold. I hated everything about the place. Even the diagnosis was cold. She said, ‘Okay, here it is. He is a mid-to-high functioning autistic child. Here are a few phone numbers.’

With pessimism in her voice she said, ‘Unprompted, he will never say ‘I love you Mommy,’ or run to you and greet you at the front door.’ Something died in me the day RJ was diagnosed with autism.

Rodney and I cried for hours. What did we do wrong? I was in denial for a month. Then that became anger. I was ready to fight for RJ, but Rodney lagged behind. He and my mom were in denial. It was harder for him to fathom that something was wrong with his firstborn son and his namesake. I gave them an ultimatum: Get on board with RJ’s treatment or go.

Autism can present an insurmountable strain on a marriage. And faced with the idea of divorce, I said to Rodney, ‘Quite frankly, I’m not trying to do this without you.’ At the time, we had a life strategist who counseled us and we still do, but during the worst part of the autism crisis, it was just the two of us battling it out.

We fought for RJ to stay in this world. Hours and hours of expensive, exhausting intervention: speech, occupational, vision therapies — all with endless waiting lists.

There wasn’t anything out there I wouldn’t try: diets, acupuncture, hypnotism and enzyme treatments. Some yielded results; others were a waste of time and money. In all, we have probably spent about $500,000 in treatments.

When RJ was 3, I met the administrator of a preschool called Smart Start in Santa Monica where we enrolled RJ. It taught kids with mild mental retardation, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD. She had them all.

I sat in her office after hours of talking to people, going online, researching more treatments, and I just bawled. She was the first person who talked to me like I was going to get through this.

RJ’s tantrums and behavior were hard to handle, especially when Rodney was away. He would self-stimulate with repeated movements, called ‘stimming’ in autistic children, by flapping his arms.

On a bad day he would literally fall down and cry inconsolably. I felt completely helpless. He only ate three things: pizza, French fries, or pasta. The smell of anything else would throw him into a tantrum.

People would say, ‘Can you control your child, please?’ I would say, ‘My son is on the autistic spectrum.’ They didn’t know what that meant.

People asked, ‘Why don’t you go to church anymore?’ I made up excuses. I didn’t go because I didn’t want him to be disruptive in church. I didn’t want to see the looks on their faces. We worship in our own way.

Even friends did not understand. At playdates, RJ would come around and they would talk down to him. I lean on Jenny McCarthy and Tisha Campbell-Martin, who both have autistic sons (Evan, 5 and Xen, 6 1/2). Jenny called me after her son was diagnosed. She said, ‘I’m sorry to call you, but…’ and six hours later we were both laughing.

I used to wake up in cold sweats visualizing my child walking around homeless. My dreams were so scary, they pushed me into action.

After trying countless therapies, we settled on something called Floor Time. We get on the ground and get up in RJ’s face to force him to interact. We would both have toy cars, and I had to crash into his car. I refused to give him enough time to phase out.

Never once did we think about sending him away. I chose a proactive, crazy-mama approach. Rodney had his own ways of teaching RJ. RJ went through a phase of repeatedly bouncing a basketball. So Rodney said, ‘If you’re going to bounce the ball, then every five times you bounce it, you have to shoot it.’ We refused to let him bounce aimlessly.

We are very goal-oriented. At 6 years old, our biggest goal was for him to have a conversation from start to finish. I said, ‘Hi,’ and RJ would say, ‘Hi, Mom. How are you?’ I say, ‘I’m good and you?’ and he would say, ‘I’m good too.’ Now RJ sets goals for himself.

I am just so proud of my boy. He is a happy 9-year-old about to enter the fourth grade at University Elementary School, a mainstream school. He struggles valiantly with subjects like math and reading and loves to write. Thankfully his classmates accept him just as he is.

He blows us away with his ability to communicate now. The other day he said, ‘Mom, I know my name is Rodney Peete, but I don’t want to play football. Is that okay? I want to play piano.’ I could barely get him to discuss his day with me two years ago.

Tantrums are now followed by RJ saying, ‘Okay, I’m going
to play piano.’ He’ll start playing beautiful arpeggios and scales.

He will try any food now: salmon, brussels sprouts, salad. He leaves the athleticism to his younger brother Robinson, who competes with RJ for attention. His twin sister Ryan is never shy to step in for him. She mothers him, it’s beautiful. And little Roman is just trying to roll with the big kids.

It’s exhausting because we have to constantly love everyone, play up everyone’s strengths and cheer for every little thing. But having a big family is important.

I had Robinson five years after I had the twins because I didn’t want Ryan to be the only one to have to take care of her brother. It was hard having to take care of my dad, who had Parkinson’s, with my only brother. What if RJ can’t live on his own?

RJ and I speak very frankly about autism. we treat it like a bully at school. I grapple with not wanting to make him a poster child, but he’s a success story.

I’m talking about it now because I want parents to have a glimmer of hope. Especially in the African-American community, there’s not a lot of information about autism. I want to take the scariness away.

Now that Rodney is retired, there are two of us to take care of the kids full-time. Even still, something as obvious as getting an eye exam for the kids got by me. Everyday I’m packing backpacks, meeting teachers, scheduling treatments and heading up HollyRod, our nonprofit to improve the quality of life in Parkinson’s patients.

And most amazingly, almost every single day for the past year, RJ, along with his three siblings, runs to meet me at the door with a kiss from those juicy lips saying, ‘Mom, you’re home…I love you.’ So much for never.


Source: People, June 4th, p. 69-72.

For more on autism, visit Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now.

FILED UNDER: Kids , Multiples , News

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cab on

I glad she is speaking out on autism, she has a good support system in place. One thing, I wish Holly had taken the time and use Oprah’s show to let others know about her son’s illness, she could help so many families to hear “Her story”. I think since the birth of her twins she has been on Oprah show about 2-3 times.

sarawara on

Wow. I am just crying away. I so appreciate their transparency. I cannot imagine the range of emotions they have been through, and I truly admire the strength and courage that they have. Blessings to them and their beautiful family.

michelle on

I love how they take it head on and not hide it. Luckily they have friends to go to who have gone through it or are going throught it at the same time. God bless them and the rest of the family.

marcia on

Wow! Beautiful story that will change lives.
I hold them in the highest regard.

FC on

Maybe she wasn’t mentally/emotionally ready to handle telling Oprah and the entire world during the times she was on the show. But she’s speaking about it now. Everyone has to handle their own family crises in their own way, on their own time.

But I love the fact that she didn’t let the first specialist deter her from finding the right kind of help for her son. That woman just didn’t give her any hope to grasp on to, and I would’ve wanted to punch someone for being so pessimistic like her.

I’m glad she decided to tell her story. She shows you that there is still a light at the tunnel even when all others want you to give up hope. She didn’t just accept one answer, she went and dug out that light, tooth and nail. Good for her. And it’s great that she has Jenny and Tisha for her support system.

Knowing she went through this and seeing how RJ is doing now, I never would’ve known he had been through hell and back. Anything is possible…as long as you believe.

Maria on

I am blown away by her story, her dedication to her son and family. Thanks for posting this.

Megan on

Wow I really don’t know what more I can say after reading that–this is one amazing family! And kudos to Holly and Rodney for speaking out and telling their story–simply by doing this, they have helped millions of parents and children–they are putting all this stuff out there for parents…the help and the organizations and all the struggles they’ve been through…so that other parents can relate and/or prepare themselves.

And i think above all else what they’ve done is give hope–to all those who feel hopeless dealing with it–who had the doctors who told them nothing or who had the doctor who scared them or gave them no hope–this shows them that you create your own hope…if you are proactive and really understand things, you can learn just as much from your child as he/she learns from you…

HUGE props to the Robinson Peete’s…they are an amazing family and an inspiration–to those dealing with autism and those NOT dealing with autism…incredible strength and they have an amazing boy and an amazing family!

Brooke and Devin on

I am so glad you posted this. My almost 5 year old son and I went through the EXACT same thing. I couldn’t have written a better article. Everything Holly and her family experienced, so did we and I’m so happy that we are not alone. It is very overwhelming and hard to deal with but our children are not invalids and with wonderful people like the Robinsons, Jenny McCarthy and Tisha Campbell-Martin, it helps ease the heartache. I am glad that Autism awareness is becoming more popular because our children deserve help too. Thank you!

Anne on

This is such an inspiring story. It moved me to tears. Thank you very much for sharing. I am postive it will help many people and I wish you all th best.

Roger on

Wow… I’m so incredibly moved by this story… Just, wow.

Ani on

They are incredible people. While the Travolta’s ignore their son’s problems, the Peet’s embrace ways to make RJ thrive. I wonder if she is intouch with Toni Braxton who also has an autistic son.

Christine on

My 4.5yr old son has ASD and I am so glad that she has told her story. I like the fact that they are doing Floortime. ABA is not for everyone (like us!). Good article.
I’m very curious to see how Jenny McCarthy is going to “blow the lid off of autism” with her new book in September.

Karen on

After reading this article, I have to cry. She is talking about my son as well. Everything from the pizza, french fry and pasta diet to the temper tantrums. One of our twin 5 year old boys has the same thing. We started with him at 2 1/2 as well and have been through every specialist and school you can think of. His speech is almost near his age level now and he will be mainstreamed to the regular kindergarten program next year with his brother. Of course we still have our worries and concerns, but he has made huge improvements mostly to early intervention and having two parents who refuse to give up on his life’s potentials. He has a huge heart and a sweet smile and always makes us laugh. He loves the computer. He may be the next Bill Gates someday!! :)Even if not, Joshua is not a disabled child, God just chose to make him special.

Aura on

Wow, that was so interesting to read. I can’t imagine going through that… They seem like such a strong and together family, and it’s great to read about how they were helping their son. Thanks for posting this wonderful family on here.

Dawna on

What struck me was Holly’s comment: “That change happened when he was about 2 1/2, very soon after he had received his inoculations for measles, mumps, and rubella.”

I have been convinced for the past ten years something has changed in the method or contents of childhood inoculations that has resulted in the alarming increase of autism to where it is now one in every 150 U.S. kids, with the majority being males.

The number of children being diagnosed with autism every day is staggering. These children will grow up to be adults with autism; most likely dependent on the U.S. taxpayers for support and care. The CDC continues to refuse to consider autism an “epidemic” or “crisis.”

It isn’t that these children are now being diagnosed as autistic more and more due to better assessment tools, because then where are all the adults with autism that were missed when those assessment tools weren’t around?

The CDC was all in a flap recently about one man infected with a drug-resistant tuberculosis that had travelled to Europe, yet the CDC does nothing about a situation where 67 children a day in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism.

It is good celebrities like Holly, Jenny, Toni, etc., are now coming out with their stories of parenting a child with autism. Publicity can only help unravel the mysteries of autism. I can’t help but wonder if they also have the same experience; that changes occurred in their child around the time of inoculations.

Lyss on

i read this when i received mine in the mail. it’s so touching and can inspire so many. thanks for posting this. i cried when she wrote that he said he loves her.

Kim on

Wow,I am sitting here crying after reading this. I never even knew this about the Peete family. This story is very touching and I do believe that this will give people hope for their children who are battling with Autism too!!! RJ proved that doctor wrong!!!

Marcy Kelly on

Thanks for the story, Holly and Rodney. Like you, I have a son with autism that had vaccine reactions and responded well to therapy, both alternative medical therapy and intensive educational therapy. The most important ingredient? Your hope for your son. Anyone else out there don’t believe when they say there is none. My 8-year old is also mainstreamed, loving, verbally expressive, and plays piano, soccer and basketball. It takes a lot of hard work (more than you can imagine) on everyone’s party, but it is worth the effort! Thanks again for “going public.” Maybe it will instill hope in others.

writteninstone on

Im not trying to defend the specialist that they saw but being too positive could also be as damaging, if not more damaging to the recovery.

You have to tell the truth so that they fanmily and the sufferer can prepare for the worst. What if she said, “Oh, this illness may be bad but I have all faith that you can get over it.” The Peetes might think it is easy to get over this disability.

Maybe she should have been more warm and caring toward the family, but you have to think how many years has she been in this line. Mental illness can be very disparaging. She must have been jaded by all the nasty stuff she’s seen. If a family as well off as the Peete’s had such a negative experience, imagine how bad it is for the poor with autistic children who have to go to cheaper alternatives.

Much more people have mental illness than what people think. If 1% of the population has schizophrenia, imagine how many there are if you factor in all the mental illnesses known to mankind. I personally feel that the professionals have got to be well trained, though many times its personal discrimination and a heck care attitude that causes such negative incidents to happen.

I applaud the Peete’s to put a face to the illness because many do not want to identify themselves because of the stigma and discrimination.

Michelle Nicole on

Holly: My girlfriend has 5 1/2 year old twin girls, last year both her girls was diagnosed with autistic. She suspected something was wrong, but the doctors kept saying that they are fine. Both girls are receiving treatments and are enrolled in kingergarten, and seems to be adjusting well. Your story made me cry, you are an inspiration to every mother. Your story will hopefully help others dealing with autistic.

Best Wishes

Amillia Henderson on

There is something our government is not telling us about Autism!!!! I read a story online about how some Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers (in California) did unauthorized immunization shots to African American and Mexican American children back in the 1980’s ( Why do some children get Autism and others don’t? It’s a vaccination experiment that our government is working on. How did AIDS come about (not to change the subject)? A hepatitis vaccination that was given to gay men in California and New York (and other major cities) in the late 70’s and 80’s. Why is it that Amish kids don’t have autism? The Amish do not get their children VACCINATED!!!

yogadaisy on

This is why none of my children will get vaccinated!

Liza on

I was born at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Anaheim the 1986…. although I am not African American or Mexican American.

As for the comment about the Amish not having autism because of not vaccinating, haven’t you done any research into the things they have that we don’t?

Not only do the Amish have the highest occurence of twinning, and they are also struck by Maple Syrup Urine disease, both of which are attributed to the small gene pool. In 2005, an Amish community was struck with the first case of Polio in 26 years!

Ok, so maybe you see the link between not vaccinating and autism. I don’t. When you choose not to vaccinate, you are putting trust in others that have vaccinated their children. Even so, The germs are still floating around out there! My husband almost DIED at 6 weeks old from catching pertussis from a child who was not vaccinated in a home daycare setting.

I will always vaccinate my children, because to me, the benefits outweigh the risks. As a sister of someone with Aspergers Syndrome, I’d prefer a special needs child over a dead one.

JR on

I was touched by this story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I also could not fail to notice that the mother made a connection between the timing of her son’s MMR vaccination and the onset of autism.

I am responding directly to Liza’s comments:

I have researched autism and the Amish. It is possible they do not have autism because of the small gene pool.

However, in a very diverse practice in Chicago, called Homefirst, children are rarely vaccinated. The only children in the entire practice in the entire time of its existence (at least 20 years) to be diagnosed with autism had been vaccinated prior to coming to the practice. The group sees families and children that have a relatively diverse makeup both ethinically and racially. That’s right, NO AUTISM in unvaccinated children at Homefirst. Dr. Mayer Eisenstein runs the practice, and he is an medical doctor with a law degree and master’s in public health.

At six weeks old, your husband had not been vaccinated for pertussis, so vaccination would not have helped him. The other child being vaccinated is irrelevant, because the pertussis vaccine is (a) one of the least effective, at about 70%, and (b) does not do anything to prevent transmission. It is a vaccine against the neurotoxic bacteria, and getting vaccinated in no way prevents transmission. You can’t blame an unvaxed child in daycare for your husband’s pertussis – just the fact that pertussis is endemic and the vaccine does not reduce or prevent transmission of the disease.

You said you’d prefer a special needs child over a dead one. Vaccines also carry a risk of death. The risk of death from vaccines is higher than the risk of catching and dying from any vaccine preventable disease. You may wish to research this issue and re-evaluate how you weigh the risks and benefits. VAERS is a reporting system for adverse events from vaccines. Just type in any vaccine and “death.”

Viv on

My 15 yr.-old son has Aspergers Syndrome on the autistic spectrum. There is no doubt in my mind that vaccines are to blame, as the mercury contained in them is dangerous to any child who has a predisposition/sensitivity to it. My son changed drastically following his six-month shots. Having worked extensively with disabled children over the years, I knew something was very wrong. He had those shots in 1991; that year, the mercury in vaccines was 87 times higher than normal. Why, I don’t know, and I understand one of the manufacturers was Merck. I believe that the CDC is doing a great job of covering for the drug companies. Most parents I have had contact with noticed the same thing following vaccines, and it is no secret to us just what caused our children’s autism. Many parents have already begun legal suits, but it’s going to be an upward battle as the drug companies have tremendous resources at their disposal. Obviously, none of them want to be named in a massive class-action suit. Although my son’s Aspergers is severe, he is quite brilliant, funny, and has two parents who love him very, very much. I only wish he did not have the difficulties he does coping with life in general. It is hard to watch your child struggle so hard. I love my son just the way he is today, and he is a blessing from God. I hope Holly and Rodney look into this issue and lend their support to all of us who have been affected by it.

Amillia Henderson on

Small world Michelle Nicole…My God-daughter was born at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Anaheim, CA in 2000 (I was there for the delivery). And, I “used” to have Kaiser health insurance for 15 years. I am African American. I do believe that Autism has increased so much over the years because of a government cover-up. It is not normal for this illness to just multiply the way that it is….Amillia Henderson……..
The Age of Autism: ‘A pretty big secret’
UPI | December 7, 2005

It’s a far piece from the horse-and-buggies of Lancaster County, Pa., to the cars and freeways of Cook County, Ill.

But thousands of children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago have at least two things in common with thousands of Amish children in rural Lancaster: They have never been vaccinated. And they don’t have autism.

“We have a fairly large practice. We have about 30,000 or 35,000 children that we’ve taken care of over the years, and I don’t think we have a single case of autism in children delivered by us who never received vaccines,” said Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, Homefirst’s medical director who founded the practice in 1973. Homefirst doctors have delivered more than 15,000 babies at home, and thousands of them have never been vaccinated.

The few autistic children Homefirst sees were vaccinated before their families became patients, Eisenstein said. “I can think of two or three autistic children who we’ve delivered their mother’s next baby, and we aren’t really totally taking care of that child — they have special care needs. But they bring the younger children to us. I don’t have a single case that I can think of that wasn’t vaccinated.”

The autism rate in Illinois public schools is 38 per 10,000, according to state Education Department data; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the national rate of autism spectrum disorders at 1 in 166 — 60 per 10,000.

“We do have enough of a sample,” Eisenstein said. “The numbers are too large to not see it. We would absolutely know. We’re all family doctors. If I have a child with autism come in, there’s no communication. It’s frightening. You can’t touch them. It’s not something that anyone would miss.”

No one knows what causes autism, but federal health authorities say it isn’t childhood immunizations. Some parents and a small minority of doctors and scientists, however, assert vaccines are responsible.

This column has been looking for autism in never-vaccinated U.S. children in an effort to shed light on the issue. We went to Chicago to meet with Eisenstein at the suggestion of a reader, and we also visited Homefirst’s office in northwest suburban Rolling Meadows. Homefirst has four other offices in the Chicago area and a total of six doctors.

Eisenstein stresses his observations are not scientific. “The trouble is this is just anecdotal in a sense, because what if every autistic child goes somewhere else and (their family) never calls us or they moved out of state?”

In practice, that’s unlikely to account for the pronounced absence of autism, says Eisenstein, who also has a bachelor’s degree in statistics, a master’s degree in public health and a law degree.

Homefirst follows state immunization mandates, but Illinois allows religious exemptions if parents object based either on tenets of their faith or specific personal religious views. Homefirst does not exclude or discourage such families. Eisenstein, in fact, is author of the book “Don’t Vaccinate Before You Educate!” and is critical of the CDC’s vaccination policy in the 1990s, when several new immunizations were added to the schedule, including Hepatitis B as early as the day of birth. Several of the vaccines — HepB included — contained a mercury-based preservative that has since been phased out of most childhood vaccines in the United States.

Medical practices with Homefirst’s approach to immunizations are rare. “Because of that, we tend to attract families that have questions about that issue,” said Dr. Paul Schattauer, who has been with Homefirst for 20 years and treats “at least” 100 children a week.

Schattauer seconded Eisenstein’s observations. “All I know is in my practice I don’t see autism. There is no striking 1-in-166,” he said.

Earlier this year we reported the same phenomenon in the mostly unvaccinated Amish. CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding told us the Amish “have genetic connectivity that would make them different from populations that are in other sectors of the United States.” Gerberding said, however, studies “could and should be done” in more representative unvaccinated groups — if they could be found and their autism rate documented.

Chicago is America’s prototypical “City of Big Shoulders,” to quote Carl Sandburg, and Homefirst’s mostly middle-class families seem fairly representative. A substantial number are conservative Christians who home-school their children. They are mostly white, but the Homefirst practice also includes black and Hispanic families and non-home-schooling Jews, Catholics and Muslims.

They tend to be better educated, follow healthier diets and breast-feed their children much longer than the norm — half of Homefirst’s mothers are still breast-feeding at two years. Also, because Homefirst relies less on prescription drugs including antibiotics as a first line of treatment, these children have less exposure to other medicines, not just vaccines.

Schattauer, interviewed at the Rolling Meadows office, said his caseload is too limited to draw conclusions about a possible link between vaccines and autism. “With these numbers you’d have a hard time proving or disproving anything,” he said. “You can only get a feeling about it.

“In no way would I be an advocate to stand up and say we need to look at vaccines, because I don’t have the science to say that,” Schattauer said. “But I don’t think the science is there to say that it’s not.”

Schattauer said Homefirst’s patients also have significantly less childhood asthma and juvenile diabetes compared to national rates. An office manager who has been with Homefirst for 17 years said she is aware of only one case of severe asthma in an unvaccinated child.

“Sometimes you feel frustrated because you feel like you’ve got a pretty big secret,” Schattauer said. He argues for more research on all those disorders, independent of political or business pressures.

The asthma rate among Homefirst patients is so low it was noticed by the Blue Cross group with which Homefirst is affiliated, according to Eisenstein.

“In the alternative-medicine network which Homefirst is part of, there are virtually no cases of childhood asthma, in contrast to the overall Blue Cross rate of childhood asthma which is approximately 10 percent,” he said. “At first I thought it was because they (Homefirst’s children) were breast-fed, but even among the breast-fed we’ve had asthma. We have virtually no asthma if you’re breast-fed and not vaccinated.”

Because the diagnosis of asthma is based on emergency-room visits and hospital admissions, Eisenstein said, Homefirst’s low rate is hard to dispute. “It’s quantifiable — the definition is not reliant on the doctor’s perception of asthma.”

Several studies have found a risk of asthma from vaccination; others have not. Studies that include never-vaccinated children generally find little or no asthma in that group.

Earlier this year Florida pediatrician Dr. Jeff Bradstreet said there is virtually no autism in home-schooling families who decline to vaccinate for religious reasons — lending credence to Eisenstein’s observations.

“It’s largely non-existent,” said Bradstreet, who treats children with autism from around the country. “It’s an extremely rare event.”

Bradstreet has a son whose autism he attributes to a vaccine reaction at 15 months. His daughter has been home-schooled, he describes himself as a “Christian family physician,” and he knows many of the leaders in the home-school movement.

“There was this whole subculture of folks who went into home-schooling so they would never have to vaccinate their kids,” he said. “There’s this whole cadre who were never vaccinated for religious reasons.”

In that subset, he said, “unless they were massively exposed to mercury through lots of amalgams (mercury dental fillings in the mother) and/or big-time fish eating, I’ve not had a single case.”

Federal health authorities and mainstream medical groups emphatically dismiss any link between autism and vaccines, including the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. Last year a panel of the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies, said there is no evidence of such a link, and funding should henceforth go to “promising” research.

Thimerosal, which is 49.6 percent ethyl mercury by weight, was phased out of most U.S. childhood immunizations beginning in 1999, but the CDC recommends flu shots for pregnant women and last year began recommending them for children 6 to 23 months old. Most of those shots contain thimerosal.

Thimerosal-preserved vaccines are currently being injected into millions of children in developing countries around the world. “My mandate … is to make sure at the end of the day that 100,000,000 are immunized … this year, next year and for many years to come … and that will have to be with thimerosal-containing vaccines,” said John Clements of the World Health Organization at a June 2000 meeting called by the CDC.

That meeting was held to review data that thimerosal might be linked with autism and other neurological problems. But in 2004 the Institute of Medicine panel said evidence against a link is so strong that health authorities, “whether in the United States or other countries, should not include autism as a potential risk” when formulating immunization policies.

But where is the simple, straightforward study of autism in never-vaccinated U.S. children? Based on our admittedly anecdotal and limited reporting among the Amish, the home-schooled and now Chicago’s Homefirst, that may prove to be a significant omission.

Amillia Henderson on

Sorry Michelle Nicole, my last comment was meant for Liza.

Another story for yah Liza……

Autism and Thimerosal:
The Thimerosal Conspiracy
by Josh Day
Robert Kennedy, Jr. has written a chilling expose that details the latest outrages in the ongoing thimerosal and vaccine story. Though the facts are stunning, it is not at all surprising, given the government and Big Pharm’s track record when it comes to injecting children with thimerosal.

Apparently, the government has known about thimerosal dangers for some time and has continued vaccinating infants and children with mercury, understanding full well the link to autism and other disorders.

In a chilling Wannsee conference-style meeting, top brass in the pharmaceutical empire, FDA and CDC lackeys, and their scientist dogs have concocted their own Final Solution in “handling” the thimerosal problem.

These men met and decided to cover up a study that proved a connection between thimerosal and autism, as well as other serious disorders.

Kennedy states:

In June 2000, a group of top government scientists and health officials gathered for a meeting at the isolated Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Ga. [in] complete secrecy. The agency had issued no public announcement of the session — only private invitations to 52 attendees. There were high-level officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, the top vaccine specialist from the World Health Organization in Geneva, and representatives of every major vaccine manufacturer [….] There would be no making photocopies of documents, no taking papers with them when they left. (Kennedy)

And their appalling conclusion:

Instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the vaccine supply of thimerosal, the officials and executives at Simpsonwood spent most of the next two days discussing how to cover up the damaging data. According to transcripts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, many at the meeting were concerned about how the damaging revelations about thimerosal would affect the vaccine industry’s bottom line.

[…] Dr. Bob Chen, head of vaccine safety for the CDC, expressed relief that “given the sensitivity of the information, we have been able to keep it out of the hands of, let’s say, less responsible hands.” Dr. John Clements, vaccines advisor at the World Health Organization, declared flatly that the study “should not have been done at all” and warned that the results “will be taken by others and will be used in ways beyond the control of this group. The research results have to be handled.”

In fact, the government has proved to be far more adept at handling the damage than at protecting children’s health. The CDC paid the Institute of Medicine to conduct a new study to whitewash the risks of thimerosal, ordering researchers to “rule out” the chemical’s link to autism. It withheld [the study’s] findings, even though they had been slated for immediate publication, and told other scientists that [the] original data had been “lost” and could not be replicated. And to thwart the Freedom of Information Act, it handed its giant database of vaccine records over to a private company, declaring it off-limits to researchers. (Kennedy)

For a successful cover-up, it helps to have a pharmaceutically-connected lawmaker in one’s corner.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has received $873,000 in contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, has been working to immunize vaccine makers from liability in 4,200 lawsuits that have been filed by the parents of injured children. On five separate occasions, Frist has tried to seal all of the government’s vaccine-related documents — including the Simpsonwood transcripts — and shield Eli Lilly, the developer of thimerosal, from subpoenas. In 2002, the day after Frist quietly slipped a rider known as the “Eli Lilly Protection Act” into a homeland security bill, the company contributed $10,000 to his campaign and bought 5,000 copies of his book on bioterrorism. Congress repealed the measure in 2003 — but earlier this year, Frist slipped another provision into an anti-terrorism bill that would deny compensation to children suffering from vaccine-related brain disorders. “The lawsuits are of such magnitude that they could put vaccine producers out of business and limit our capacity to deal with a biological attack by terrorists,” says Andy Olsen, a legislative assistant to Frist. (Kennedy)

Thimerosal is used in vaccines as a preservative to allow for mass production. Instead of single dose vials, vaccines now come in multi-dose bottles, which is cheaper to manufacture.

Again, the perpetual fear of a bioterrorism outbreak gives Big Pharm a blank check to cut corners as “cost considerations.” If terrorists employ a biological attack, the drug lords claim, then only multi-dose vials could vaccinate the American public in an emergency. This nebulous scenario has allowed the drug empire to pump an entire generation of American children full of mercury, and thanks to the politicians in their pockets, new laws protect them from any accountability.

Kennedy gives a timeline of events for the generation some call the Thimerosal Generation.

Before 1989, American preschoolers received 11 vaccinations — for polio, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis and measles-mumps-rubella. A decade later, thanks to federal recommendations, children were receiving a total of 22 immunizations by the time they reached first grade.

As the number of vaccines increased, the rate of autism among children exploded. During the 1990s, 40 million children were injected with thimerosal-based vaccines, receiving unprecedented levels of mercury during a period critical for brain development. Despite the well-documented dangers of thimerosal, it appears that no one bothered to add up the cumulative dose of mercury that children would receive from the mandated vaccines. (Kennedy)

Kennedy goes on:

But by that time, the damage was done. Infants who received all their vaccines, plus boosters, by the age of six months were being injected with a total of 187 micrograms of ethylmercury — a level 40 percent greater than the EPA’s limit for daily exposure to methylmercury, a related neurotoxin. Although the vaccine industry insists that ethylmercury poses little danger because it breaks down rapidly and is removed by the body, several studies — including one published in April by the National Institutes of Health — suggest that ethylmercury is actually more toxic to developing brains and stays in the brain longer than methylmercury. Under the expanded schedule of vaccinations, multiple shots were often administered on a single day: At two months, when the infant brain is still at a critical stage of development, children routinely received three innoculations that delivered 99 times the approved limit of mercury. (Kennedy)

Everyone knows mercury is not good for you. Remember the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland? Hatters were notorious for being crazy or having the “shakes,” and this was due to their working with mercury to cure the felt for hats. Mercury was once used to treat syphillus, and when an afflicted hatter discovered his treatment helped produce superior hats, employing mercury became the norm in the hat making industry during the 19th century. (Source: Mercury: Element of the Ancients)

And this toxic metal is being injected into infants.

The good news — as if anything good could come out of this travesty — is that thimerosal is being downsized, at least in vaccine production meant for American children.

However, “the FDA continues to allow manufacturers to include thimerosal in scores of over-the-counter medications as well as steroids and injected collagen” as well as in vaccines being sent to Third World countries (Kennedy).

In conclusion, let’s take another look at the timeline and the rise in autism, and then we’ll finish on an Amish note.

One study, which compares the cumulative dose of mercury received by children born between 1981 and 1985 with those born between 1990 and 1996, found a “very significant relationship” between autism and vaccines. Another study of educational performance found that kids who received higher doses of thimerosal in vaccines were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with autism and more than three times as likely to suffer from speech disorders and mental retardation. Another soon-to-be-published study shows that autism rates are in decline following the recent elimination of thimerosal from most vaccines.

As the federal government worked to prevent scientists from studying vaccines, others have stepped in to study the link to autism. In April, reporter Dan Olmsted of UPI undertook one of the more interesting studies himself. Searching for children who had not been exposed to mercury in vaccines — the kind of population that scientists typically use as a “control” in experiments — Olmsted scoured the Amish of Lancaster County, Penn., who refuse to immunize their infants. Given the national rate of autism, Olmsted calculated that there should be 130 autistics among the Amish. He found only four. One had been exposed to high levels of mercury from a power plant. The other three — including one child adopted from outside the Amish community — had received their vaccines. (Kennedy)

Liza on

Ok, you know what, forget it. I’m done reading this post, because people always have something else to blame for their children’s problems. Maybe they were just born with it? Why does it have to be blamed a vaccination? Denial, blame, whatever, its all real.
I’m intitled to my own opinion, and it is this: It is negligent to NOT vaccinate your children.

Liza on

Oh, and I think that copying and pasting articles is a bit much, thanks.

In no way am I saying this isn’t a beautiful story, and I’m glad she can open up and share this will all of us. I just do not agree with some of the opinions here, and the way they are supported.

MG. on

Thank you to the Peete’s for sharing their story. Unfortunately, we live in a society obsessed with celebrities and that’s why it is so important that they have chosen to tell their story. There are hundreds of thousands of families dealing with autism everyday. It takes every ounce of energy to make it thru another day. As if it’s not difficult enough caring for an autistic child, getting them treatment will test your sanity. It is a constant battle with, Regional Centers, School Districts and Service Providers. There are not enough Teachers, Therapists or Aides for all the children who need help. When I hear about the money being spent in Iraq, it makes me sick. Imagine what 8 BILLION dollars can do for these children. When treated early, they can be verbal, affectionate and keep up with their peers in school. Oprah asked that people have compassion for families of autistic children. I don’t want compassion, I want outrage! Outrage that what we go thru is not being acknowledged. Outrage at the lack of useful research. Outrage that insurance companies can say, sorry autism is not covered by your health insurance policy. Outrage that the Federal Government is only funding 40% of their mandate for special education. Outrage that our beautiful children are having their childhoods stolen, because they have to have 5 hours a day of therapy to learn to point, kiss, speak, jump, eat, write, play with their siblings, etc. etc. etc…

Adriana on

My heart goes out to Holly, seems like it has been a long road for Rodney, her and their children. I’m sure she was going through a lot, and it took her a lot of time to be able to discuss this with the public. I’ve always liked her, and god bless her and her family.

Stephany on

What an inspiring woman. She was determined to not settle for less than the best for her son. They didn’t let this setback break them but they let it make them stronger and RJ really benefited from that. Good for them!

yogadaisy on

Sorry to see you go, Liza. You are certainly entitled to your opinion but I think it’s a bit harsh to say NOT vaccinating is negligent. There’s quite a bit of info out there regarding thimerosol (mercury) in vaccines and the link to autism and I think not vaccinating is actually more safe.

To anyone reading this who is pregnant or will become so in the future: PLEASE educate yourself on this issue. There is so much information out there regarding vaccines. So many are simply unneccesary like getting an infant vaccinated for Hep B in the first few weeks of life! Not necessary at all!

And if you choose to vaccinate, do so wisely and make sure the vaccines are mercury-free. Your doctor’s office can order them for you–no problem at all. Also, do NOT get the flu-vaccine while pregnant (has mercury in it that passes to the fetus).

Jenny Sundberg on

Reading this was uplifting. As a mother of a son with autism I recognised so much: a pessimistic expert giving a diagnosis, husband and family in denial, getting really angry and then getting mobilised and trying every treatment in sight in the hope that just something would bring my son back or at least closer to being the person he was meant to be. Sad that this has happened to so many of us, but wonderful that so many kids have improved with treatment.

KarenC on

This article is excellent. I admire them for
not giving up, and for using their creative
instincts to build on their son’s

Their story shows that with the right
support, children with autism can make
tremendous progress.

Trisha on

I really wish I could talk to Ms Robinson.
I feel like I am going crazy with my 12 year old Daughter, Her Doc believes she is high functioning Autistic. She all is ADHD, and Attachment Disorder due to her abusive Bio Dad. Every day I feel lost on how to help her. She is slipping through our fingers. I live in a super rural area> Finances are such that taking her to Minnesota is out of the question. I have been encouraged to apply for SSA for her. Sorry I don’t mean to sound so negative, but we are stuck between a huge rock and a very hard place, as I am sure there are many others feeling the same.

Stacy on

I had recently heard that the Robinson’s son RJ had Autism. I have a 4 year old son and I am encouraged each day of the strides he is making since our recent diagnosis. I teach music to special needs kids, some autistic, and recognized the signs and took action. Alot of people wait and think that the child will “grow out of it”, or are in denial but the earlier you act, the better your outcomes can be! Life is too short to waste time. Cry, Get Over it, Get involved and do something to find a cure! Since I am close to Washington, D.C., I have decided to begin with my Congressmen, Senators, and friends to help raise funds for more research. Who is with me!

Linda Hulett on

I am so glad more and more African Americans are speaking out about autism. What I admire about The Peete’s is that they recognized, monitored, researched and took ALL the necessary steps in getting their son help. I have faith in the little guy, and moreso in his parents who are fighting for him. I too, am a parent of an autistic son. Unfortunately, I lost him in a tragic drowning, Spring 1998. Holly reminded me a lot of myself when I first found out about my son’s autism. I recognized it as soon as he turned 2 as well. Needless to say my son lived to be 4. He was potty-trained at two-years old, by 3, he would call me “Mommie” and by 4, he could button his shirts and brush his teeth. Like the Peete’s, I had a lot of faith and determination that autism wasn’t going to control my son; we were going to control it. Many blessings to you Holly and Rodney!

Lauren on

Yogadaisy, since you admitted that there is no problem having children receive vaccinations that are mercury-free, may I ask why you still believe children who are not properly vaccinated are better off than those who are? ITA that more likely than not, mercury and other contents of some vaccines are to blame for the rise in autism. However, not having babies receive their shots before age 2 is taking the risk that they will contract a deadly disease. Even older teens need to be properly vaccinated; there are a number of college students in my area who have been dying of viral meningitis, hepatitis, and a host of other illnesses that would have otherwise not harmed them had they been vaccinated. I agree that every parent needs to be extremely cautious and quiz their doctor up and down regarding what exactly they are putting in their childrens’ systems, but saying that babies and children who are not vaccinated are healthier than those who are sounds very naive and ignorant to me.

Success Through Play on

Thank you for posting this interview. We need to raise public awareness of this Neuro-Developmental Disorder. Early detection and intervention is crucial. Please review the early signs of Autism (one form of it at least) by visiting:

yogadaisy on


Where did I state that having your children get mercury-free vaccines is no problem? I stated that having your dr’s office ORDER them is no problem (easy for the office to do even if they claim it isn’t) but I did NOT state that that mercury-free vaccines are no problem.

This is an issue where education is key. I believe it is better for my children not to receive vaccines that I deem unnecessary while they are small children (I will consider having them vaccinated against certain diseases when they approach or are in their teen years, however).

I believe it is much safer to selectively vaccinate a much older child/teen/adult than to bombard an infant or toddlers systems with dozens of vaccines.

Christine Dunn on

My heart goes out to Holly and her family! I too have 4 children and my youngest Joseph is high functioning autistic. He is 8 now but I noticed his change at 2. Her story rings so true to me that I’m sitting here crying! My first reaction was to stay in my bed and never come out. This lasted 1 day because I had 3 others to take care of. My husband was in denial for a while but he came around and we knew we had to help our son! At 5 years old after a long and tedious battle with the Board of ed my son is where he belongs in a specialized school for autism, doing great! He talks to me all the time and he is my best friend! My biggest concern of course is his future but we take one day at a time! I have great children who love their little brother so much that I needn’t worry for his future care when my husband and I are gone. It frightens me though, how many people are affected with autism! When Joseph was first diagnosed it was 1 in 500 now its 1 in 150! Very Scary! Why is this so?

Tisha on

Hi Holly,
I have a son with ADHD and it’s hard for me to deal with him when he start with his tantum. he’s 9yrs.old.It’s really hard for me to get him to read that’s his hardest subject he can do his math and other subject with no problem. I have him on some medicine called Concert so far so good with that.It’s really surprise to hear that celebrity talk about there child or children have some illness. I’m happy you are talking about your son that gives more people to talk about it freely.

Sincerly Tisha

Cyndie Rosa on

Thank you so much Peete family for sharing your story. Reading this was like reading our own family story. My 4 1/2 year old son is on the autism spectrum as well and we have had the same battles and opposition that they have faced. My husband had the same “loss” for his son that couldn’t do what he always wanted to do with his son. And I went through the same range of emotions Holly did in dealing with this. Holly has the same kick some a** attitude that I have in dealing with my son. It’s great to hear people sharing such a personal story with the public. I applaud you for it. You definitely have a friend in me. Thanks again – Cyndie

Vanessa on

I’m glad Holly shared her story, because there’s not a lot of information about autism out here. It’s hard not to cry while reading this story, but I feel really proud at how Holly, her husband, and their family are taking on autism head on. I wish them well.

Jessica Wilson on

I just want to say how much I appreciate this story. My son is going through all of the motions now to see if he is autistic or what to could be. I really think it is great to have the “famous” moms and dads speak out to show just how much alike we all are in this fight. That autism does not discriminate. All the money in the world cannot cure it, but someday maybe it can.

Trina on

I am also struggling with the fact my oldest son was diagnosed with autism. He’s a seven year old piece of heaven on earth. I wouldn’t trade him for any amount of money. I would like to comment the Peete family on their journey into this world of autism. The road alone has so many unknown territory and I wish them the best.

sandy on

I can’t believe that people are calling Autism an ILLNESS, it is not a cold or the flu for God’s sake! My son is on the spectrum and I have never once felt that he has an illness or is “sick”. He is a very intelligent 6 yr old that we are blessed to have! Get a clue as to what you are commenting on before you judge it!

Natasha on

I too, like many others posting in this forum, was touched by this story. It really hit home for me because I am the mother of 8-year-old twins (girl and boy). My son was diagnosed with Autism soon after he turned 4 years old. My daughter does not have the disorder. I, too, thought that maybe my son had a hearing impairment – after being tested we found that his hearing was fine. Needless to say, sometime later, he was diagnosed with Autism.

I applaud Holly and her family for sharing their story and can definitely appreciate their struggles as well as their triumphs. I wish them the best.

Autism Speaks Inc. on

South Carolina Autism Insurance Bill Passed
Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto to Pass Comprehensive Insurance Mandate
The South Carolina House and Senate overrode Gov. Mark Sanford’s 11th hour veto of a bill requiring health insurance coverage for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The bill, “Ryan’s Law”, previously passed by both the House and Senate, was vetoed on June 6, 2007 by the Governor, and was brought back to the floor on June 7, where the House and Senate voted unanimously to override the veto.

The South Carolina autism insurance initiative will require insurance companies in the state to provide medical coverage for persons who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder by age eight, with continuing coverage through sixteen years of age for treatments prescribed by a medical doctor. Included is coverage for behavioral therapy up to $50,000 a year. This bill is a compromise bill on which the South Carolina autism community and the South Carolina insurance industry have agreed. This is one of the most extensive autism insurance mandates in the country to date.

The effort to pass this bill was directed largely by a group of dedicated parents in South Carolina led by Lorri Unumb, along with Marcella Ridley, Lisa Rollins and Derrick Howle.

“Thank you to all the parents of South Carolina for writing letters, visiting legislators, and calling to help pass this bill,” Unumb said. “Each and every person who picked up the phone or sent an email truly made a difference.”

The bill’s name, Ryan’s Law, is in honor of Unumb’s six year old son.

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kate on

The only thing that bugs me is..we need more stores of everyday people living with autism. My oldest son has autism and unlike all these celebrity’s we don’t have the $ for all of these therapy’s(not that they work). my point being america needs to see more family’s like mine!!!

Deanna Parker on

I am so glad to hear her speaking out about this. My son has autism and is the same age as RJ. I had never heard this. I had also not heard about the other celebrities mentioned in the article with children diagnosed with autism.

Having gone through the same thing, probably at the same time, I can totally relate. the one thing I discovered were that there were not very many African Americans speaking out about Autism. At first we saw and heard about so few we thought that we were a minority. Boy were we wrong!

It means so much when we bare our sole, it lifts the burdens from others letting them know that they are not alone.

I am so happy her son is doing well. I know that it is the result of a lot of hard work.

I give her many Kudos for speaking out now and sharing her struggles and successes.

Kiki Rose on

Thank you for sharing this story. So many kids are born with autism now it is inspiring to hear celebrities talk about the realities of their situations. Love.

RB on

I read this article in public and anybody who saw me would have wondered why my eyes were welling up with tears.

Thank you for such a great article.

We have a son with high functioning autism too. High fever after vaccination and that’s when ours started too. Worked hard, thought he had made enough progress to be almost normal but nobody warned us about regression at adolescence. we had to start over.

Please continue to do articles like this. it helps when people know more and don’t judge so harshly. I can’t tell you how much it hurts to have strangers treat you like dirt becuase of your child’s condition.

Rebbie on

I love Holly’s way of dealing with this – that is one family I’d be proud to know. So many people don’t sacrifice for family. This is an example to follow.

We too know what it feels like to spend all the money you have, to be unable to go to church normally, to have strangers judge you.

I still have tears. Thanks for this story.

Dhristine Dunlap on

This message is for Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson-Peete, I would like to tell you both thank you for being human and making me feel okay to talk to you. I do not have any children with autism, although I am 9mths pregnant with a baby boy and I am interested about the vaccinations that possibly triggered autism in both your children.

Sheila on

I saw you on Oprah today, and I am so impressed with both of you!! You inspire all mothers and teachers!!

april on

i love this family. she was on oprah today speaking about their child and the hope they all share (along with ms. mc cartney). god bless these courageous women and the men who stand beside them!!!!!

seoulmom on

I urge parents, friends, relatives of autistic children to PLEASE do research on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. I also believe while a small percent are born autistic that the majority of autistic children are due to vaccinations. I have seen hyperbarics help many autistic children. There are clinics all over the country. This is a “newer” therapy and the children should still have therapy, and for most, a gluten free diet. Unfortunately insurance companies are not yet covering the cost which is usually 40 treatments and it can be costly. A lot of doctors are not recognizing this therapy because it is holistic and they don’t think it will work. I work at a hyperbaric clinic and have seen children go from non verbal etc to talking up a storm and not having tantrums. Some of their teachers have come to visit us to see what we are doing that makes such a big difference. In the many autistic children we have treated, only one has not responded to the treatments.Usually after 40 treatments the child does not need to come back. They keep making gains in their lives. PLEASE look for a hyperbaric clinic near you to see if this is something that would benefit your child!!! Just google hyperbarics and autism. You will not be sorry!

Penelope Donick on

This story is so touching, after watching Holly Robinson Peete on Oprah September 18th my husband and I have decided not to immunize our 22 months old daughter when she turns 2. We have two other children that are fine but taking that chance is too scary.

Roxana Rapaport on

I do not have a child with autism, but I do anderstand what parents and children go through. I am the director of small non for profit inclusion preschool in Miami, Florida and have many students with autism. When parents come to us they are lost, they don’t know what to do or where to go. The pain they feel is visible. In our school they find direction and a place where their children are treated with love and respect. It is our experience that children with autism get better with early intervention. A preschool setting will help with social skills. Parents should look for an inclusion program so they can be in the classroom with tipically developing children. Speech, Occupational and Behavior therapies also help.
I was so moved by Holly Robinson Peete and Jenny McCarthy’s stories of hope on Oprah (Sep. 18, 2007). I went out this morning and bought Jenny McCarthy’s book. I will pass the hope to the parents at our school

Kerri on

I have a cousin that was diagnosed with autism after having tear duct surgery. She went to regular schools, graduated high school, now works in a day care and though she will never drive or have a family of her own, she is a beautiful, loving vey special young lady. She is loved by so many people. Her mother never gave up on her and spent so many hours in a quiet room trying to teach her and to keep her focused. This was before much was known about autism. God Bless you and your family. No matter how hard it gets, you have a Wonderful Heavenly Father to help you through. And you have a Wonderful, Fantastic Husband and family. Stay strong. you are a beautiful and I have loved watching your career and I hope to continue watching you grow.

brenda on

Holly I just want to say to you THANK-YOU!!

Thank you, for all you have done, looking at what your doing gives me hope that all the work Im doing for my daughter,that eventually someone will start to listen to the mothers of children with autism.


B.G. Malone, D.C. on

I watched the appearance on Larry King tonight and tried to send an e-mail during the show but could not.
Please don’t think I am insensitive or just inquisitive.
Did Holly or Jenny and any of the other moms have ultrasound during the pregnancy? Ask the doctor or technician to put one drop of water on the sound head and see what happens to the water.
A baby is largely water and if the diagnostic ultrasound does what treatment ultrasound does, there has to be some damage to the fetus. After all, ultrasound is used by jewlers to clean rings and other jewelry.

B.G.Malone, D.C.

B.G. Malone, D.C. on

I watched the appearance on Larry King tonight and tried to send an e-mail during the show but could not.
Please don’t think I am insensitive or just inquisitive.
Did Holly or Jenny and any of the other moms have ultrasound during the pregnancy? Ask the doctor or technician to put one drop of water on the sound head and see what happens to the water.
A baby is largely water and if the diagnostic ultrasound does what treatment ultrasound does, there has to be some damage to the fetus. After all, ultrasound is used by jewlers to clean rings and other jewelry.

B.G.Malone, D.C.

liz on

I am interested in starting a school/living facilty for teens and young adults with autism. Any ideas/suggestions would be appreciated. What do you like/dislike about the program your child attends now. What forms of therapy have you done for your child that did/didn’t work? etc..
Thank you. I have a child with Autism who is now 13 and there really isn’t anything out there for the next step into his future.

j.brown on

Great article. I think that if I ever had a child with autism I would have to refer back to this article for insight.

Fredericka R on

Thank you for sharing that information. My mother has shared with me her opinion of whether my daughter should be vaccinated. However, it is difficult to not “go along with medical vaccinations” when it is necessary for school entry. Each and every time my 4 year has received vaccines I cringe to think if I am making the wise choice. Although she has done well – I often wonder when she was younger she was withdrawn and overwhelmed by large crowds and the “big” people. Today, she still does not like the big crowds – she continues to scream and run when co-workers and students of mine run to her. Academically, she is excelling above others in her Pre-K class. You have encouraged me to continue to work with her and closely letting her know that I am there for her and love her. With that I continue to wish you the many blessings and strength for your family.

Diana Overstreet on

My 5yr old son Matthew has PDD-NOS and he is the light of my life.He is afraid of going poo poo in the toliet.How long should I continue to teach him to deposit in the toilet?He does urinate in the toilet when prompted.What suggestions does anyone have?

Thank you,

Mme.dee Disney-MaMe on

April 23, 2008

Dear Mrs Holly Robinson Peete & Family:
Could you please see what Holly Robinson
Peete in the gold dress from from the Jesse Grant/wire is doing! If she is not busy; I need help “In the House”
with a few things:

1) I need help with a panty hose modeling

2) I need some new girl-friendz

3) I need a Swingout partner at the:
Goldrush Club
7460 S. Westmoreland
Dallas, Texas 75237


Debbie Bayliss on

Dear Holly and Rodney,

My day started out well. My husband and I were going to see the school counsellor about our son who has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The person we saw was just a young intern psychologist who treated us like structured dummies. I went out of there crying and still upset until I happened to turn the Oprah show on and saw you talking about your plight and how frustrating it is with the so called professionals. All I can say is THANK YOU.

By the way for my birthday last year my mum bought me the entire series of 21 Jump St a show I loved twenty years ago. It’s great seeing it again and my children love it as well. Your skills were especially brillant in the first season where in the show you had to speak French and were taken hostage. Well Done.

All the very best to you and yours,

Debbie Bayliss

patricia on

reading holly’s story made me cry because it seemed so familiar. I have twin 7 year old boys both autistic, dad is in denial and lost he’s trying to grab on but he fighting a losing battle. He’s not use to being out of control (he’s a police chief on the force for 35 years) so to him the tantrums can’t be accepted he believes in spanking. To pervent this i do the majority of the disciplining which is getting harder and harder. I am 5 feet 11 inches tall and my boys heads are already up to my chin. Our relationship is so strained, I’ve basically abandoned all of my friendships and we very seldom go any place that is enjoyable because of the tantrums and the people talking and staring, I even stop attending church until the pastor (who is 93 year old)told me to bring them back because whoever didn’t understand their situation could leave if they wanted to. I felt as though
I was sinking until i just read holly’s story it is very inspirational and i pray see continues to tell everyone to hold on to your babies don’t let them get lost. GOD BLESS HER AND HER FAMILY

Laura on

Christine – I have a 2.5 year old with mild autism, and we too are happy with Floortime. I’m glad it’s getting a little visibility here.

ps the overwhelming evidence indicates no correlation between vaccines and autism. Truth to power.

Christy on

My question is did Ryan, RJ’s twin receive the same vaccines as him at the same time. If so, this is interesting and they should look into this case especially.

teri on

Please visit The National Vaccine Information Center website. This center is co-founded by Barbara Loe Fisher whose son developed brain damage after a series of childhood immunizations. Unfortunately, there are many other VIDS (vaccine induced diseases) besides Autism and ADHD. Other vaccines we need to watch out for are the flu vaccines. Dr. Rebecca Carley has an excellent website with very important information on this subject. Our best defense is Knowledge.

Tracy Finnley on

I can’t begin to put in to words the reassurance I have felt reading this article. I too have an autistic son, it’s near dam impossible for people to even begin to comprehend how your life changes when this vulnerable disabled person enters in to your life. All I can say is ‘Thank GOD’ for people like Rodney and Holly who speaks out, highlighting and raising awarness of this hidden disability, I call it ‘hidden’ because there are no visible signs that your child is any different, in fact, they like many other children can appear absolutely attractively gorgeous, just Rodneys and Hollys beautiful child! It can sometimes be apparent that something is different when you try to make eye cantact but it’s not always, although I known my son can have ‘the vacant look’ however it’s most noticable when my son who is 18 yrs old physcially move i.e. jumping, flicking, and all the other little and big things that are classified as ‘different’. Its particualrly noticable when he tries to speak as the majority of the time he gabbles incoherently although he can let you know if he is hungry, thirsty, tired, etc. He’s now a striking good looking young man of 6ft 3in, however when he jumps he’s like an extended pogo stick. People are not always so empathetic as those (above) who have written in response to this article thus those who don’t understand please don’t judge and try to understand; he didn’t chose autism,autism chose him and its something we(and thousands of others)live with as a family on a daily basis. We are now facing the prospects of my son losing his education placement as the LSC have decided to terminate it’s contract with out any legitimate reason (see the Guardian Tues 25th August 09). I knew before our the recent turn of events that I’ve learnt I have to be my sons voice as his rights would be non existence. If we parents didn’t fight for them or highlight them in the public eye when given the opprtunity what would theri quality of life be?, so thank you for your article and bringing your story for all to see, it’s reassuring to know we are not alone in dealing with the complexity of this hidden disablity. Reagards. T.F

Melanie Harms on

Holly and Rodney, such a touching story. I have recently become involved in the autistic world. I started dating a music therapist who specializes with autistic children. We have been together for a year and a half now. I have had a few opportunities to observe her with autistic children. It is absolutely amazing. She now is Professor of Music Therapy at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Good luck to you and your family and thank you for your story. I wish you the best of luck.

Tomico on


Thank you for sharing your story. There are times that I want to break down and cry because my 5 year old son has autism. I want to be able to have a conversation with him so I know he is feeling okay, in pain, sick or hungry. He has started to speak but he is only making sounds now. I am looking forward to him putting two words sentences together. I consistently greet every morning with a “Good Morning, how do you feel” and ” I love you”. And my feel over joyed when he smiles after I say “I love you” because I know he understands me when I say it.

Again, thank you for inspiring parents with hope.


Arnette on

Holly: Thank you so much for sharing your story. It give me hope as I fight the same battle to win my son back from autism. I need to hear all the success I can about overcoming this elusive and mysterious disability. I recently read another inspirational article online about the son of former NFL player, Dan Marino, who has completely overcome all of his diagnosed autistic charactertics. In the article, Dan, his wife and former autistic son speak candidly about how they dealth with the autism. Here is the link if you’d like to read it. It’s an awesome story.

Christina on

I am disgusted with the Poplar Bluff school system. Let me tell you a little bit about myself first. My name is Christina Crawford and I moved to the Poplar Bluff School district in 2009 from Naylor. I thought that it would help my youngest child who had recently been diagnosed with ADHD, PDD, OCD, and ODD he had and still has a lot of social and communication difficulties, since they were a bigger school and his Mental Health Doctor thought that they could offer him more. Every since I feel like the Poplar Bluff School system has worked against me. Brandon has behavior problems and anger issues but these are stemmed from his disorders. If Brandon is put into a smaller group these behaviors are less common. Brandon is under the care of Naveed Mirza, MD and he also sees Aaron Allen for his counseling needs.
Recently, Brandon has become more aggressive at school. He has hit, kicked, and pushed students. They complain when his medicine makes him too tired and they complain when his medicine does not make him “blend in”. There is no pleasing them. They have threatened to call in authorities to have him hospitalized. Which Dr. Mirza and myself agree this would only make the situation worse because of Brandons condition. He does not need hospitalization. I have tried to get him into O’Neil school which has a autistic classroom and a behavioral classroom. When requesting these services he was denied because his behaviors are not severe enough. Which I do not understand because his behaviors are severe enough to kick him out of school, kick him off the bus, swat him, take away his free time, call me everyday and call higher authorities to have him put away. He is too smart for the Autism room but if anyone knows what autism was they would know that autistic children are execptionally smart. I do what is right by Brandon he attends all of his counseling appointments and goes to all his other doctors appointments and more. Anytime the school has had a problem I took him to Dr. Mirza that day or the very next morning. I make sure that he takes the meds that are prescribed to him. I did what I was suppose to, why cant the school do what they are suppose to. I understand that he dont completely fit the descriptions of the other students in these classes but they should have had to accommodate to him. They could have put him in “special classes” but gave him the normal second grade work, in order for him to function to the best of his ability. I know that Brandon is probably only one case where people fall in the cracks because he is not able to function in the classroom because of his disorders and he cant get put in special classes because he is too smart. When I originally started this letter I wanted help getting special services for my son but after the threats and how degrading the school has made me feel I will not put my son back in Poplar Bluff Schools. I know that I am a great mother and I always put my children first. I just want to get my word out so maybe this does not happen to any other family. This has caused a ton physically and mental stress not only on me but also on Brandon, who deals with enough everyday already. Now this is causing financial stress because I have to home school him to make sure he is getting what he needs. What happen to No Child Left Behind?
Thank you for taking the time to listen to me.
Christina Crawford
I am willing to answer any questions if it will help you resolve this issue so other families do not endure this problem.

carol Shikany on

I have a 20 year old with autism. I have been the head of a steering committee for 15 years. My daughter is now in a adult foster care. Some questionable things have happened and there is a guardian (that my ex-husband instigated through the coutrs.OMG, it has been hell with a guardian. Anyone out there, an attorney who wants to do probono and give me advice. I am starting to write a book about this

xenobia on

Everytime I hear about Holly R.Peete’s story,I feel heartbreak for my own 10yr.old son.we are African-Canadian.I was a successful singer for 20yrs but when I had my son, Iknew he would be my greatest accomplishment.however,I didnt bargain for the never-ending abuse by the system.I lost 4pregnancies and was elated to have a live birth.It was a very dangerous high risk pregnancy that would nearly cost me my life but i would do it again for my beloved son!I still remember the joy & disbelief at seeing him the 1st time.he began hitting his marks very early and seemed ‘far too intelligent’ for his age until he was about 3yrs siblings began to notice small but significant things.then an uphill battle to keep him and get a firm diagnosis would ensue.I was determined to do this for him.I couldnt have known how high a price it would be.1st his father left us,then it seems the world turned against us.I cant believe we’re still here! we r still fighting but there is light at the end of the tunnel..we would suffer seemingly endless abuse from every part of the system-Dr’s,teachers,policemen,etc.we are now in a position to sue for damages and hopefully move foreward with our lives.we lost everythng we own and so much time being abused and held back,I just hope for the best.all I ever wanted was to feel free to love my son and do my music.he is just precious.God is good and I know He has great things in store for us!

Celeste on

Mr and Mrs Peete are doing a good job with their children and just basically educating the public about Autism. Rodney JR is a smart kid who only wants to be accepted for who he is and not his disability.

lisa harpster on

Although this article, I believe, is meant to bring awareness and positive thoughts to autism, I believe it has fallen short. #1 children and adults with autism are not terminal and therefore do not need the word “cure” used to describe their needs. “acceptance” is the word that the actual autism community uses.
#2 Just because children and adults on the autism spectrum cannot enjoy things as NT people do..does not mean they do not enjoy them!! They enjoy them very much..whether your noticing it or not!!
#3 It does not take 500,000 dollars to get specialized treatments for children with autism..while treatments are expensive it is a misjustice to families to make them think they have to commit to this much money in order to “fix” their child and or adult on the spectrum.
#4 Jenny Mcarthy is not a spokesperson for the actual autism know the ones actually dealing with autism…she and this article show NO medical proof that vaccinations cause Autism and its not safe nor right to scare families away from immunizing their children.
#5 sharing your nightmares on this level scares the hell out of families and makes children and adults with autism ashamed. Oh yea, they do read these articles. Please start being respectful of them…you know the ones you are bringing awareness too!!
#6 when you begin to hide your child from public places and church..seriously..i wonder who really has the problem.
RJ and children like not need others talking about their Dx wanting to make their parents die..they need understanding, patience, time, and acceptance of who they are and what they can do when you let them go…soon they can fly…while the Peete family seems to be on the correct road in therapy I am totally positive they have completely adjusted their lives around little RJ. I felt, it was quite unfair for the Peete family to have more children to help care for RJ. He would be humiliated to know this..and I am positive it has raised many questions in the lives and minds of other families and individuals with autism. This article is very disrespectful and does not take in the needs and feelings of those living with autism on a daily basis. there is no cure for autism…nor should there be one…there needs to be US, truly dealing with autism to accept, band together, and start being more aware of the needs and wants of autistic individuals. Showing them true dignity and respect!!
Mother and auntie of children on the spectrum….God bless

csgo on

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CS:GO on

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Anonymous on


Brittany Blairs mom on

My son Blair bear is autistic and I hope to one day have achieved as much as she has with her son
She’s given me hope and determination to overcome and make progress not perfection and with God I know I will get there one day at a time

Carol on

I have a son with autism but in 2005 God took him home with him but I wish back then that someone would have support me back them I did think that went my son died that i could make it. I went through so much. But we a child with autism we have to love them teach them how to do for there self and they can make it in the real world. I work we children of special needs and they’re very independent and I wish I had that time with my baby boy. He was 19years old went he passed on I love him and miss him every day of my life so keep working with your son let him be the young man that he is love you and your family and God bless you all the Pretend. P.S. maybe one day you will write me back and say your son is doing well on his own. Carol of JERSEY CITY N.J.

Carol on

I have a son with autism but in 2005 God took him home with him but I wish back then that someone would have support me back them I did think that went my son died that i could make it. I went through so much. But we a child with autism we have to love them teach them how to do for there self and they can make it in the real world. I work we children of special needs and they’re very independent and I wish I had that time with my baby boy. He was 19years old went he passed on I love him and miss him every day of my life so keep working with your son let him be the young man that he is love you and your family and God bless you all the Pretend. P.S. maybe one day you will write me back and say your son is doing well on his own. Carol of JERSEY CITY N.J. April 1, 2017

Amy on

Autism is not an illness to be cured, it’s a neurological divergence that is present from birth. It should be accommodated for, not eradicated. To ‘cure’ autism is nothing short of eugenics

Toni on

Sometimes I want to cry. I get frightened, depressed, feel hopeless and helpless. I reach out to somebody, ANYBODY, crying “HELP ME!” like I did today. I thought about Holly Peete. Maybe she knows what we’re going through. Maybe she can tell us what to do. And she does. And she helped me today, to have faith that our beautiful little hunny-bunny is indeed that brilliant, love-filled, gifted, and capable young man that I see when I look at him. I pray that all will be well. I wish I could live forever.