mental health

Actress Holly Robinson Peete Speaks in Dallas for Mental Health Awareness Month

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Holly Robinson Peete is an actress, philanthropist, advocate and mom. Growing up as the child of an actor, she knew being on the screen is what she wanted to do. Getting into that industry would not be nearly as hard as what mom-life would bring.

She told portions of her story at the Metrocare Services 14th Meal for the Minds event in Dallas, capping off Mental Health Awareness Month.

She explained that she has experience with difficult situations as Parkinson’s Disease took its toll on her father, but when she became a mother, it was one of her twins, RJ, who was the one who needed care.

“The developmental pediatrician gave us so many nevers and things he would never do,” Robinson Peete said. “I don’t think he knew he was stealing out hope, but he was. Our hope was being stolen that day and we were devasted to get this diagnosis about a disorder that we really don’t know about. Then you’re telling us, he will never do all of these things? Not even have gainful employment. It’s one of the reasons we wanted to go public with this to do shows and things like that to show the possibilities for this boy’s life.”

Watch NBC 5 Anchor Laura Harris' Full Interview with Holly Robinson Peete and Her Son, RJ

She told portions of her story at the Metrocare Services 14th Meal for the Minds event in Dallas, capping off Mental Health Awareness Month.

RJ was diagnosed with autism at three. Robinson Peete said her husband, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Rodney Peete was in denial for quite a while.

“My husband was in full denial. If he was sitting right here, he would tell you the same thing. He had different expectations for his son. This is a football player; you know he’s macho. He thought his son would win the Heisman Trophy. Rodney definitely struggled with it. I’m so glad he came around and became such a great advocate for RJ, but there was a long time there where he couldn’t accept this autism diagnosis. That is common though. It’s not always the dads, but in my experience, they process it differently,” Robinson Peete said.

RJ is now in his 20’s and Robinson Peete said he is doing so many of those “nevers” the doctor thought he couldn’t achieve.

“Its truly amazing. I look at him now and look... he works in the clubhouse with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Are you kidding me? I am so proud of him and the way that he has continued to push. We advocated for him and he advocated for himself to get to this point,” Robinson Peete said.

RJ has learned coping mechanisms for those times when he feels overwhelmed.

“Sometimes I will get in the hyperbaric chamber and that helps to calm me. But I also really like taking a bath. That calms me,” RJ said during a conversation he and his mom shared with NBC 5’s Laura Harris.

Metrocare Services provides many of the life-changing services Robinson Peete said were imperative for her son’s cognitive growth.

“I make it a point to talk to families and tell them what I wish that someone would have told me. Get rid of the denial, because you are just costing your child time and intervention. Build a team around your kid. Whether its people at the school, or the clergy, it doesn’t have to be your own family. Just people who are going to advocate for your child and make them a priority in this journey,” Robinson Peete said. “I jokingly call myself a gangster mom. You have to be. You have to really get in there and advocate for them, especially when they can’t do it for themselves.”

Metrocare Services in Dallas considers themselves the leader in North Texas when it comes to mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse services.

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