When Holly Peete’s 3-year-old son RJ was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2000, she was devastated to hear that he would probably never speak or learn to communicate effectively. Sixteen years later, when RJ released his first book and began his career as a model and musician, she was proud to share his message of hope to other teens with ASD.
The doctors who diagnosed RJ as a toddler told his parents all of the things they thought he would never do, like say “I love you, Mommy.” RJ’s parents worked with him every day of his childhood and invested in the best therapy they could find for him.
With a great deal of love and support, RJ and his family beat the odds. First, he learned to talk. After that, RJ became more open and engaged with others, especially his fraternal twin sister, with whom he has co-authored a book about growing up with autism. By age 18, RJ was living out his dream of working as a model and getting a rap career off the ground.
Now he hopes to reach other young people with autism and toss a proverbial arm over their shoulders. As he said to the young janitor who was bullied by 50 Cent: “We gon’ be alright!” which was a quote from Kendrick Lamar.
At 19, RJ Peete he seems to have found his footing and his voice at the same time. As a young man who’s found success and overcome the obstacles of autism, he’s working to be a role model for others.