How Toni Braxton is fighting son's autism

Feb 17, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Grammy Award winning singer Toni Braxton has teamed up with SheKnows to bring awareness and raise money for a cause that is close to her heart: autism. Her 8-year-old son, Diezel, was diagnosed with the developmental disorder when he was a young child. She is now focused on raising money for Autism Speaks through the SheKnows Where the Other Sock Went campaign.

Toni Braxton and son DiezelThe autism diagnosis

Toni Braxton said she knew something was different about her son Diezel when he was just an infant. "As a mom, I knew something was different about him when he was probably about nine months old," she told Fox and Friends. "By the time he became a year and a half I said, 'He's not developing like his older brother.'"

The six-time Grammy Award winning singer said he was finally diagnosed with the developmental disorder autism when he was 3 years old -- and she admitted she had a hard time accepting the diagnosis.

"I felt sorry for myself for a long time and I blamed myself. I thought it was something I had done," she shared. "Friends came to me, that are like me, and said 'Okay, you're not a victim, our babies are great, they're fine, get him into these therapies.'"

She said that in addition to her friends, "was very beneficial" in helping her deal with the diagnosis. "I loved them at hello," she said.

In fact, SheKnows co-founder Nancy Price has a son diagnosed with autism and she has provided a wealth of information on early diagnosis, keeping your autistic child safe and tips on connecting with your child.

Check out autism signs and symptoms, qualities and quirks >>

"Early diagnosis makes a lifetime of difference," Braxton says. "We have him in occupational therapy, speech therapy, he's being mainstreamed [and] he's in public school, general ed. He does have his special ed therapies, but we are very, very lucky."

Also check out: Autism therapies - What educational and medical interventions are available? >>

Toni Braxton Autism SpeaksSheKnows Where the Other Sock Went campaign

"It's a wonderful idea. I mean, we all have washers and dryers at home in America but there is a sock monster in every dryer," Braxton said. "So we went to the sock monster and said, 'Okay guys, let's do a deal. Give us the socks back, let us do something for charity, make this wonderful dress.'"

Project Runway All Stars' Michael Costello designed the one-shoulder gown using over 700 single socks that were donated and signed by celebrities. The custom-made sock dress was unveiled on Feb. 10, 2012, at New York Fashion Week.

"When SheKnows called me... I was all over it," Costello told People. "I love a challenge, and I just thought it was something that could be totally cool."

The advertising campaign will be shot by fashion photographer Nigel Barker and the sock dress will be auctioned this spring with all the proceeds to benefit Autism Speaks.

Find out more about SheKnows Where's The Other Sock? Campaign to benefit autism >>

More about autism

Signs of autism and everyday life with an autistic child
10 Things you should know about autism
Can food and special diets affect your child's autism?

Photo credit: Wenn (top); SheKnows (bottom)