Holly Robinson-Peete proves that it is possible for parents to give undivided attention to all of their children, even if one has special needs. The actress recently told the Washington Post that she and husband Rodney try to spend quality time with all their kids and especially with their twins Ryan and RJ.
“The most important thing is to find time to have one-on-one time with each child. Even if it’s just an hour, have that time where you’re looking them in the eye. So much of the family’s money goes to [Applied Behavior Analysis] and therapy and speech, so the sibling can’t do gymnastics or some after-school drama program. There’s only so much pie, and as a parent you’re in a hurry trying to put all your chips in for this one kid. Ryan and I have been doing sibling summits along with a summer camp … where it’s all about them. They need a little respite,” said Holly.
RJ was diagnosed with autism a few years after his birth. As twin sister to the 14-year-old, Ryan works feverishly along with her parents to help families understand the basics of the disability and what can be done to improve an affected person’s quality of life.
“[Ryan] saw that children didn’t know what autism was. They were talking about [R.J.] and around him and not really to him. She felt like she wanted to do an Autism 101 lesson with her class, when they were in fourth grade. She asked my husband and I if we would come to school and talk to the kids about what autism was. … It was quite brilliant,” said Robinson-Peete.
The actress went on to explain, “We asked the kids: ‘What are you good at and what do you [stink] at?’ Kids would say ‘I’m great in science but not in baseball.’ So we said, ‘R.J. can tell you the name of every president and their vice president, and every single player on every single major league sports team, but he’s terrible at making friends. The room went silent. They were impressed that he could do all this stuff. When [Ryan and R.J.] came back in, he was a rock star. We were blessed to go to a great school that allowed us that opportunity. Most children we know in this journey don’t have that opportunity. Ryan said she wished every school could have an Autism 101, so we wrote a book. [My Brother Charlie is] about a sibling who loves her brother even though he drives her nuts sometimes.”
In addition to twins Ryan and Rj, Holly and husband Rodney Sr. are parents to sons Roman and Robinson.