Exclusive Interview with Jacqueline Laurita
Real Housewife of New Jersey Jacqueline Laurita talks with Parenting.com's content director, Ana Connery, about what it means to be a mom.
-Welcome to Parenting's first video vlog with you. -Thank you. -We're so excited to, like, have you share your story and tell things from just a mom's perspective of what it's like to, you know, have a child that has been diagnosed with Autism. One of the things that came to mind right away is that I know when I first became a mom, I'd never expected the power of intuition to be as strong as it was. For you, you talked a little bit about how your intuition kind of kicked in early on- -Yes. -and you maybe- you struggled with it a little bit- -Right. -because you weren't quite sure. So, tell me a little bit about that. -Well, around 18-1/2 months to 2 years during that time, you know, my son, he had started to say some words, he started to sing. There were certain things that he was progressing. It was very gradual but he stopped using his utensils, he stopped answering to his name. But then, he would do other things that seemed so bright. -Right. -You know, that I was like, "Well, maybe he's developing here and he's just a little slower here and that'll catch up-" -Everything will catch up. -Yeah- -Yeah. -and then, you know, it just gets to a point where you just know. I- And I remember I was trying to explain to my husband and he was like, "No," you know, "I don't think it's anything, just let it go." And I'm like, "No," like, "watch this." And I rolled a ball by hand then I said, "Nicholas, get mommy the ball." You know, he couldn't follow a simple command like, you know, roll the ball back to mommy or get the ball- -Right. -to roll back to mommy and that's when my husband was like, "Yeah, you know what, I think we need to-" -Go see someone. -Right, about this. We talked to a family friend who has a child on the spectrum. -Uh huh. -And I expressed all my concerns to him and he actually led me to the Autism Speaks website. So, I did the whole checklist and realized that he had a lot of the things that were on that. Autism is such a wide spectrum- -Right. and he didn't have all the symptoms but then he had some of them and I wasn't sure; I kind of thought that's what it might be. I started Googling and, you know, trying to figure out like why is he not doing this? While I was waiting to get in- to developmental pediatrician, I went on the website. I learned about the gluten-free/casein-free diet and immediately started trying to learn all about that. And I met with, actually, Jenny McCarthy and Generation Rescue and they helped me get into a doctor in California. They helped me to make sure he had the right, you know, supplementation in his diet and, you know, just check things out, do a blood test and check for, you know, food allergy testing, you know, anything I could do in the meantime. You know, just- -Right. -get- keep things going and just try to do a lot of it myself, you know, and- before I saw the doctor. -Right. So, walk me through the day that you finally were told those words- -Ah. -and you knew without a doubt. -At that point, I basically knew that's what it was without hearing it. But I had been doing the diet, I'd been trying different things and there was a part of me hoping that she would tell me I was wrong- -Right. -and that that's not what it was or, you know, don't worry about it, it's just, you know- Even though I knew, I was kinda hoping she would say it- -Right. -that it wasn't. So, you know, we got down and she, you know, looked at us and she said, you know, "Your child has Autism" and she, you know- and even though I was prepared, I wasn't prepared when I heard it. I was trying so hard not to cry in front of her, just like, "Okay, so, what do I need to do now?" Just very matter-of-fact- -Was Chris there? Was your husband- -Yeah, my husband was with me and I just remember leaving there with just like a lump in my throat, went home and just cried until basically, I couldn't cry anymore. -Right. -Once I got all that out, I literally- I woke the next day and I started- I was on the computer, like, obsessed with finding information, just, you know, researching all the information and resources that I can possibly find. -What was a breakthrough moment when you felt like, "Wow, we can get somewhere. I'm not sure where we're going, maybe- -Yeah, yeah, yeah. -but we are going somewhere." -Actually, it was during the Sandy hurricane and we had a blackout and I just had a lot of time to, like, really enforce everything that, you know, the behavioral therapist was teaching me to do with him. I couldn't give him a bottle of water unless he said the sound of the letter, 'cause we knew he could say the sound of the letters. Or, you know, the "wah" sound or, you know, say- do something and it's hard because you're watching your child cry and you just wanna, "I know what he wants so why can't I just give it to him?" You know? -Right. -But she said, "No, you gotta force that outta him." So, I kept doing it, I kept doing it and all of a sudden, he started doing it. He was like, "Wah, wah." And I kept trying to make him say water and then he started saying that. -Oh, wow. -And once he started saying words, you- then you add on to the sentence. So, it's "water" then it's "want water" then it's "I want water-" -Right. Right. -"I want water please." But when I heard that, that was so encouraging because I didn't think he could do this at all. -Right. -And he can do it. So, if he can do this, he can do anything else. -Right. -I just have to keep at it. -I really appreciate you sharing. Your story- -Thank you. -is so personal. Thank you so much. -Thank you, 'appreciate it.