Tisha Campbell-Martin has become a voice for autism since discovering that her and husband Duane Martin’s eldest son, Xen, battled with the disorder over a decade ago. The actress recently sat down with Essence magazine to talk about her family and new docu-series, ‘Color My Mind,’ that addresses the challenges parents face when children are diagnosed with autism.
Tisha told Essence that she was shocked when her film, named after her organization, won an award at the Cannes Film Festival a few months back. “We wound up winning at the American Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival and so we were really excited. We didn’t think that we were going to win but it means even more to me that they asked to show it at MegaFest during the film festival,” said the actress
Campbell-Martin also gave insight as to how her and Xen’s life has changed since learning that he was autistic several years ago. “Xen was non-verbal [when he was younger],” explained the star. “He would flap his arms and rock back and forth. He’s never been in a special needs class because I wanted him to model after typical kids and now he’s a typical kid. He has a girlfriend and he is now speaking; you can’t shut him up. He says, ‘I used to be autistic and don’t be telling my girlfriend I used to be autistic either.’ So I’m blessed because we were able to catch it early.”
Tisha told Essence that detecting autism early in a child is important and can mean the difference between him or her thriving in society or simply passing along. “We’re definitely not discussing it enough in our communities and there are many reasons why we don’t get diagnosed or we get misdiagnosed,” said Campbell-Martin to the media source. “The thing about autism is that you have to catch it early because then you can exercise the brain enough to try to get the child to their greatest potentiality. But without early intervention, they get stuck in their ways. Of course it’s a spectrum disorder so that’s added into the mix. Everybody gets a different amount and it looks different with every child because every human being is different. Early intervention is key. I can attest to for my child and myself.”
Xen was deemed autistic by doctors as an infant. Tisha and Duane Martin have two kids-Xen and Ezekiel-together.