Jacqueline and Chris Laurita’s decision to share their youngest son Nicholas’ autism diagnosis on the Real Housewives of New Jersey was one of the most difficult decisions ever says the couple.
In a new interview with Cafe Mom, Chris and Jacqueline talk openly about the world of autism and why they decided to be open about their and Nicholas’ journey.
Jacqueline, who broke down during season 7 of RHONJ about Nicholas’ struggles, says nowadays Nick is doing “amazing.”
“Nick has come a long way. He went from being completely non-verbal and very disengaged to pretty much-saying anything — and reading way above his level,” Jacqueline explains. “Over the last couple of years, he’s learned to understand “yes” and “no” and uses them appropriately. He’s also asking “why” and “where” questions and putting more and more sentences together. Before it was just “me” and “I want.” It’s been amazing, I’ve been waiting for this. He’s definitely way more engaged with his family and is very loving. He loves giving hugs and kisses.”
The couple even admitted that they were on different pages when it came to the decision to announce and film Nicholas’ journey on RHONJ.
Chris called it “a tough decision” while Jacqueline admits she was “open to having it in public.”
“That was actually a tough decision: Whether or not to expose our family to the cameras. At the time, there really wasn’t a whole lot of films or anyone — there were a few people, but not a lot stepping up — really bringing autism to the surface and raising awareness,” Chris explains. “There are a lot of people who have the platform and don’t say or do anything. We made the decision to bring it out — and bring it out on a platform that can be pretty toxic at times.”
Yet Jacqueline says her only worry was how RHONJ producers would handle it.
“I was always open to having it in public because I never want Nicholas to be ashamed of his diagnosis, but bringing it out on a show like the Housewives made me question how [producers] would handle the situation,” Jacqueline admits.
However, the couple insists they didn’t take the decision to expose Nicholas’ autism on camera lightly and that they talked with Bravo about to make sure this didn’t turn into something negative.
“We basically told Bravo, listen, we’re gonna bring our child on the show and help raise awareness. And basically, if you don’t do the right thing, we’re going to come to your offices and kill all of you. [Laughs] Kidding. This is a very sensitive situation,” Chris says. “We wanted to make sure this gets out the right way, and don’t you dare turn this into something negative.”
Adding, “We’re happy with the outcome and filmed a whole lot more with Nicholas than people got to see. But I think [what aired] was enough to help raise awareness and make some noise. I can’t even tell you how many times people have told me, “Because of you, I got my child tested.” It’s so satisfying to hear that what we did [and what we’re doing] is helping other people.”
For the rest of the interview head to Cafe Mom.
I think it was great for Chris and Jacqueline to be open about Nicholas’ diagnosis and to raise awareness. I’m surprised that they even hesitated to make it public. Dare I say Jac and Chris were smart to make sure this sensitive situation was handled properly and not turned into something negative.