What would you do if your son or daughter was diagnosed with autism? Actress Holly Robinson Peete’s son Rodney, Jr. was diagnosed with the disorder at the age of 2 1/2 and she has been tackling autism and erasing the stigma associated with it ever since.
As a parent of an autistic child, Holly Robinson Peete has been a staunch advocate for children living with the disease and their parents. Now, the actress, whose 11-year-old son developed autism after receiving vaccinations when he was just 2-and-a-half years old, serves as the first African-American to sit on the board of Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness and prevention of the disease. The activist and mother of four shares her thoughts with ESSENCE.com about comments made by actress Amanda Peet, the spokesperson for vaccinateyourkid.org, who recently said that vaccinations don’t cause autism.
I’m really disappointed to hear people like Amanda Peet-who have never been affected by autism-make public allegations like vaccinations don’t cause autism. It makes me angry because it’s so disingenuous to have this kind of public discussion, especially when World Autism Awareness Day is coming up on April 2. But I know exactly what she is trying to do and that’s to instill fear: if your child doesn’t get vaccinations, you’re going to make every other child sick. Believe me, I understand both sides of the argument because I have four children. Although I have total respect for what any mother feels is best for her child, you can’t tell me what is right, because it’s not necessarily going to work for my kid. I know because I’ve experienced it with my eldest son.