Jacqueline Laurita's son is autistic

Aug 22, 2012 at 8:45 p.m. ET

Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jacqueline Laurita has revealed that her three-year-old son, Nicholas, is autistic.

Jacqueline Laurita's son is autistic

Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jacqueline Laurita managed to hide a big secret from reality television cameras last season: Her son, Nicholas, has autism. Laurita and her husband, Chris, started worrying that something was wrong when Nicholas was 18 months old.

"We had no idea what was going on," Laurita told People in a new interview, adding that Nicholas wasn't developing motor skills and wouldn't acknowledge people when they walked into the room.

"You never want to think that your child isn't perfectly healthy," she added of her son's diagnosis. "We didn't want to believe it was true."

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The reality star did a lot of research about the illness after her son was finally diagnosed, but she still worries.

"I worry about him being independent when he's older," she admitted.

Laurita certainly isn't the only celebrity mom with an autistic child. Both Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson Peete are activists for autism awareness, thanks to their autistic sons.

"…There are extra, added layers of fears when you're talking about a kid with autism or who has some special-needs issue, Robinson Peete told USA Today earlier this year. "You worry about him being bullied, about [him] being treated unfairly. You worry about him doing the wrong thing in public and it being misconstrued."

However, children with autism can thrive, thanks to increased public understanding and new treatments.

"Fortunately, we have some pretty great organizations that can guide you. Autism Speaks is one of them. They have 100-day kits for the first 100 days after a diagnosis... And they have a lot of community resources and a database on their website," Robinson Peete continued. "You have organizations like ours, HollyRod, which gives compassionate care to families. We're working really hard to erect a compassionate care center where families can go."

Image courtesy WENN.com