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What Autism Does to a Mother


A month later, Nicole saw information about a Walk Now for Autism event and jumped at the chance to form her own team. In less than a week, she recruited 30 friends and family members, who raised more than $2,000 for autism. At the walk, Nicole received new information about local treatment providers — plus, a discussion with one of the walk's organizers about the therapies Ryan was getting prompted Nicole to repeat her requests for more hours from NEIS. That request was granted, and as a result, Ryan also joined a weekly NEIS playgroup where he can interact with typical kids.

The highlights of the day didn't end there. Nicole and her family met two celebrity moms who each have a child with autism: Jenny McCarthy and singer Toni Braxton. "It was a surreal moment for me," says Nicole. "I had the chance to tell Jenny how much she touched my heart when I needed hope so desperately. I told her that her book helped save my son, and that it started a fire in me to fight for him. Jenny actually choked up while she was listening to me. It wasn't about meeting a celebrity for me; it was bigger than that. The whole walk filled me with such positive feelings. Looking around at all the people who turned out on a cold, windy day to fight autism was so hopeful and uplifting for me. I realized that sitting at home being depressed was useless; the walk brought me to a new place, and it reinforced my determination to save my little boy."

Look for the next installment of Living With Autism in the July issue of REDBOOK.


Originally published on: May 1, 2008


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