Holly Robinson Peete is unquestionably a true champion and advocate for those who have been diagnosed with not only autism, but with Parkinson’s disease as well. Her son RJ, now 25, is autistic and Robinson Peete recently spoke to Popsugar about the “greatest gift” of raising him.



“When I first got the diagnosis, I would hang out with my best friend, and her kids are the same age, and it’s just like, their problems were, “Oh, Billy got a C on a test,” and I’d be like, “I’m just trying to get RJ to look me in the eye.” I think the lesson from that was that autism parents need compassion, and we need a lot of it.”

The mother of four continued, “We need understanding about what we experience. And not everyone wants to deal with that. But we need help, and we need compassion, and we need people to come by and say, “Can I babysit your other kid?” We need help, and we don’t always ask for it.”

Going through the process, the actress and talk show host realized that it was not only a taxing process to get a diagnosis, it was also very expensive to do so.

“So finally we got the diagnosis. That’s what I noticed: how hard it was to get the diagnosis, how expensive it was, how long it took. I was like damn, I’m glad I have resources to handle all of this, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t know how to pay for any of this.”


Robinson Peete’s journey with her son opened her heart to making sure that other families had someone to count on and help them navigate their own journey with the process.

“I counsel families all the time, whether they come to me through mutual friends, or whether I see them on social media, or whether someone hits me up on a DM. I’m like, give me your number. And I’ll stay on the phone for an hour with a new family and give them some encouragement, because I did not get that. Dr. Debbie Downer did not give me that.”

She continued, “One of the most tangible things I tell them is to begin to build a team around your son or daughter so that when you’re not around, there are people who understand who they are, what they like, how they communicate. And advocate constantly. Don’t be scared to tell someone your son or daughter has autism, because it can help them understand.”


The actress/producer went one step further and she and her husband, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete created the HollyRod Foundation.  On July 15, the foundation celebrated their 25th anniversary with the DesignCare Event in Los Angeles.

So, just what did Robinson Peete say was the “greatest gift” of raising a child with autism?

“Now, RJ is 25. We were told he would never drive, never have meaningful employment. And he just left in his car to go to Dodgers Stadium, where he works. For me now, watching him soar, watching him thrive, seeing him have friends, watching him have a whole baseball team who cares about him, watching him have purpose — it’s the greatest gift.”

RJ is employed at Dodger Stadium as a clubhouse attendant. According to Robinson Peete, players have to her that, RJ is an invaluable part of their clubhouse. She said that they have told her, “You don’t even know what having your son in our clubhouse means to me.” 

And of course, as a parent, hearing that was probably the icing on the cake for both Robinson Peete and RJ.



Photo Credit(s)/Featured Image: Holly Robinson Peete Instagram

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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