Holly Robinson Peete Refuses To Use ‘Limiting’ Language To Describe Her Son
Actress Holly Robinson Peete experienced difficulty as a parent when her son, RK, was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old. The diagnosis did not only give her a child with special needs, but she struggled even more when her son's disorder rocked her marriage.
— Autism Speaks (@autismspeaks) March 16, 2016
However, the diagnosis did not stop Holly from pulling all the stops when it comes to being a mother. During a sit-down with Huffington Post, Peete shared her experiences about raising her son - who is now 18 years old. One of the first things that she learned being a mother of an autistic child is the necessity of putting her son's needs first.
"I like child-first language," Robinson Peete explained. "OK, that may be really PC of me, whatever, but I like to know who the kid is and then what does he have. I don't want to know that he's an autistic kid. To me it's so limiting."
The actress explained that she has become more sensitive to the subjects since RJ spoke with her on the subject at age 10 or 11. While she did not understand what he meant at first, he later reiterated the sentiment when he became more verbal. "I'm not autistic," RJ told his mom. "I have it, that means maybe I can get rid of it one day."
Autism, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is a complex brain development disorder characterized by a person's difficulty in communicating and forming relationships. Current numbers state that in the United States, roughly one child in 68 can be affected by this disorder.
Raising an autistic child made Peete concerned about how he will be perceived by others - specifically, by police officers. At 6 foot 3 inches, the African-American young man could get into trouble if he's behavior isn't perceived properly by officials and police officers. To avoid any run-ins with the law, she took it to herself to educate RJ about how the system works. She even took it to herself to introduce RJ to several local police officers in the area.
In her new show called "For Peete's Sake" the actress will discuss more about these situations with children. She is aiming to lessen the stigma against children suffering from autism. She especially focused on getting law enforcement to understand different situations like special needs, depression and bipolar disorder to begin with, so that the police can deal with these issue better.