In 1997, Holly Robinson Peete, along with her husband, former Detroit Lions Quarterback, Rodney Peete, started the HollyRod Foundation to help bring awareness to autism issues, support families in crisis and raise funds.
Holly watched helplessly as her son’s behavior began to change dramatically.
At two years old RJ stopped making eye contact and communicating. Holly was devastated after he stopped trying to talk completely, “He even stopped responding to his own name.” Doctors continued to claim he was just fine and that he’d grow out of it. “As a woman and mom, you worry about protecting your kids,” Mrs. Peete said. “There are extra added layers of fears when you’re talking about a kid with autism or who has special needs. You worry about him being bullied or treated unfairly. You worry about him doing the wrong thing in public and it being misconstrued.” After an incredibly stressful year, finally, at the age of 3, Holly Robinson Peete’s son was officially diagnosed with autism. That’s when she immediately went to work forming hollyrod4kids in order to focus on improving the lives of autistic children.
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With the most recent estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that 1 in 88 children can be located on the autism spectrum, Holly knew it was important to become an advocate and activist for autism education, outreach, and support.
Although Holly was grateful that organizations like Autism Speaks help guide families for the first 100 days after a diagnosis, she says, organizations like HollyRod are also sorely needed because they give compassionate care to entire families. We’re working really hard to erect a compassionate care center where families can go.”
“Where is the St. Jude for autism? St. Jude, where families can go and deal with their children’s cancer without having to worry about paying for it. That’s in my sights. That’s what I want to do.”
“Autism needs to be a part of the national conversation.”