A shot of Teresa Giudice and Jacqueline Laurita, showing Jacqueline pregnant with her son, Nicholas, who has been diagnosed with autism. Photo via Jacqueline Laurita Facebook Fan Page.
Jacqueline Laurita is best known for her role as Teresa Giudice’s best friend – or frenemy, depending on the week – on the TV show The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but she has recently spoken up to use her fame for a different cause. The most mild-mannered of all the housewives on the show, Laurita revealed she’s been struggling with a family matter inside her own home: her 3-year-old son has been diagnosed with Autism.
While the cameras were busing picking up all the drama of Season 4 of Real Housewives of New Jersey, Laurita was busy hiding her son’s condition. She said she didn’t want it on camera while the family was dealing with the new diagnosis.
Currently, said Laurita, she spends most of her time researching the condition, attempting to find solutions so her son is not left behind. She revealed Nicholas’ condition to People Magazine, and her story will be featured in Friday’s issue. According to People, Laurita’s husband, Chris, said they were somewhat in denial when they first got the news, not wanting to believe any of the results.
“You never want to think that your child isn’t perfectly healthy,” he said. “We didn’t want to believe it was true.”
The American Centers for Disease Control says one in 88 American children has some kind of Autism Spectrum Disorder, whether full-on Autism or something milder, like Asperger’s Syndrome. In addition, the CDC reports that Autism is five times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. Though Nicholas was 18 months old when he started showing decreased verbal skills and other signs of Autism, many Autism diagnoses can happen at any time throughout early childhood. The CDC also reports that the majority of children, somewhere around 62 percent, who are reported to have Autism Spectrum Disorders have no intellectual disabilities at all. The most common identifying signs of Autism are a lack of verbal and social skills, which many children can overcome to live a mostly normal life.
When Nicholas was diagnosed, said Laurita in the People interview, she had begun noticing his speech skills regressing, in addition to him not answering his name and refusing to acknowledge others who walked into a room. Right now, she said her main concern is learning what to do to help her son as he grows.
“I worry about him being independent when he’s older,” she said to People. “I spend all my time researching what we can do for him.”
Editor’s Note: A prior version of this article incorrectly stated that Laurita’s son CJ was diagnosed with autism when, in fact, it is her son Nicholas.
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