By peoplestaff225
Updated April 13, 2007 07:08 PM

Actress Holly Robinson Peete recently spoke to Essence magazineabout the hardships of juggling a career and family and the evengreater difficulty of tackling autism and erasing the stigma associatedwith it.

Holly’s eldest son, Rodney, Jr., 9 1/2, with husband,ex-quarterback Rodney Peete, was diagnosed with the disorder at the ageof 3, which Holly cites as the most devastating time in her lifenext to her father’s Parkinson’s diagnosis. The news put a strainon the two’s marriage – already suffering from Rodney’s absence whilehe played in the NFL – and was only exacerbated when Rodney and Holly’smother refused to accept doctors’ diagnosis. Angered, Holly issued anultimatum to both: be supportive or leave.

Her husband and mother eventually got onboard and sought treatmentfor Rodney, Jr. Nowadays, Rodney, Jr. is a friendly and outgoing youngboy who’s currently being mainstreamed at school. The earlier years,however, weren’t so bright as Holly learned how insensitive otherpeople can be.

The actress also confesses that, for a short period of time, she toowas in denial about Rodney, Jr.’s condition, only to realize she shouldcount her blessings.

A devoted mom, Holly has put her career second behind focusingon Rodney, Jr. and raising her three other children, daughter andRodney, Jr’s twin, Ryan Elizabeth and sons Robinson, 4 1/2, and Roman,2, a decision she consciously made and has absolutely no regrets about.

Holly prefers television acting instead because of its consistentfilming schedule, allowing time for her family. Her latest endeavor, Football Wives, a pilot for ABC’s possible fall line-up, is good forher family values, she says.

Source: Essence

Thanks to CBB reader Brooklyn.