- Posted January 10, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Tell us the Good Stuff!
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- David Drew: Staying On The Grind, One Production At A Time
- Chris Hopson: Teaching Other Kids Not To Bully Others On One Stage At A Time
- ICandy Radio Brings Awareness About Lupus in A Unique Way!
Jacqueline Laurita Keeping It Real!
It's unclear if Laurita will be returning to the reality show. She told Diggs, 'Bravo won't let me release that answer until they have announced the cast.'
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
I was so excited to have a chance to interview Jacqueline Laurita! She is by far one of my favorites from Real Housewives of New Jersey. She sat down with me and we had the best conversation. I must say I learned so much about her opinion of the show and about Autism. Jacqueline thanks for allowing me to interview you. You’re such a role model for so many people including me.
K. Diggs What made you get into Reality TV?
Jacqueline: A scouter for the production company went to my local salon looking for a group of fun moms who led interesting lives. The salon owner gave them my number. I talked to them out of curiosity. At first it was a 2 ½ hour phone interview and then we did a video interview. At the time, both my kids were in school full day and I was thinking about going back to work. I thought that this was something interesting that I could do where I could basically work from home and still be there for my family. I never actually thought they would pick me out of all the women they were interviewing. I also never thought people would actual watch it. It was more out of curiosity of what went on behind the scenes of reality shows. I also did it for the experience. I have always lived my life as an open book, so sharing my life with others never bothered me. I just never knew that millions of people would be watching. I had no idea what to expect. I thought it would be something fun to do with family and friends.
K.Diggs: Once realizing what both positive and negative being in the spotlight had to offer, do you regret being on the show Real Housewives of New Jersey?
Jacqueline: No, I don’t regret it at all. It wasn’t always enjoyable, but no job ever is. As stressful as it could be at times, it taught me a lot about myself and it was an interesting experience. The best part of all was being able to use my platform to do something good, like raising awareness for Autism. Viewers helped me through some pretty tough times in my life… fertility issues, dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship struggles, family feuds, friend feuds, my personal insecurities and fears, and my son’s Autism diagnosis. Viewers were very supportive, and I learned a lot valuable information from others that helped our family tremendously. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many kind and interesting people along my journey.
K. Diggs: I see on the show that you have children and you live your life publicly obviously, what tips can you give to mother’s who may choose to live in the public eye in the future say two years from now?
Jacqueline: Be yourself. Always be true to yourself. Put your family first. Be appreciative of those who will be there for you when you’re done filming. Be comfortable with who you are and know your worth. Know that you will never please everybody. Haters are going to hate…let them. They are unhappy people that need to find their way, so never let it affect you, instead just worry about the people in your inner circle. Find the humor in all the false press stories. Don’t read the negative blogs or comments. Take advantage of your opportunities and enjoy the moment because it won’t last forever. The more open and real you are, the more people will connect with you and you can learn from each other. As long as you have a strong support system and are confident in your self worth, you will be ok. Stay grounded!
K. Diggs: I know your son has Autism Disorder, how receptive were you to getting him the best adequate education? I.e I know some mothers that send their children away from not being able to handle the disorder as a parent.
Jacqueline: Raising a child with special needs can be very stressful at times. It is very hard as a parent to watch your child struggle daily, but I find it also very rewarding watching the progress my son makes and I’m proud of how he works for those achievements. Parents have to be able to have the time, energy, patience, understanding, resources and parent training to put into raising a special needs child as well as knowing your child’s legal rights. I think every parent wants the best for their child. I will never judge another family’s decision on how they decide to raise or cope with their situation. Sometimes both parents have to work full time away from home, have other children depending on them, and/or other things on their plate they are coping with, so they send their special needs child away in someone’s else’s care because they feel it is in the best interest of their child in hopes that it may give them a better chance for a better future. I’m sure the decision is not an easy one and there is probably a lot of guilt and pain that goes along with it. Parents do the best they can and choose to do what feels right for their family. I feel grateful to be able to work from home and have the support of my husband through this journey. We work together as a team very well. We are committed and dedicated to doing whatever it takes to give our child the tools he needs to bring out the best child that OUR child can be. We will never give up and we will always love and accept him for whoever he is. We will continue to work on bringing out our son’s strengths while working on decreasing his negative behaviors. Parent training is a very important piece to his recovery, along with his many other treatments and therapies. This is what works for our family. It’s a joy and a challenge every single day.
K. Diggs: When you gave your speech on Autism for the first time on the show, what feeling did you have?
Jacqueline: I was so scared. I thought I would have diarrhea. I wanted to cry and find an excuse to not do it. My tongue swelled up and got dry and I kept choking on my words. It hurt to swallow and my heart was beating hard through my chest. I think I may have even broke out into a few hives. Lol! I was so scared and nervous. Public speaking has always been one of my greatest fears. It’s much different than filming on camera. It wasn’t only in front of a few hundred people but I also knew millions of Bravo viewers would be seeing it. Once it was done, I felt so relieved and proud of myself for pushing through one of my greatest fears. It’s something I felt that I had to do. I wanted to do it not only for my child, but also for the many others that are struggling with, or affected by, an Autism diagnosis. I still get nervous but it’s become much easier. I just keep making myself do it. Sometimes facing your fears is the only way you can get past it. If you mess up, you learn you still survive and “This too shall pass". You grow from challenging yourself.
K. Diggs: What advice do you have for mother’s who have children with the disorder?
Jacqueline: I encourage others never to be embarrassed by an Autism diagnosis and to share their journey with Autism with others. Find a good support group that you connect with so you don’t feel so alone. Others will relate to you and help you, and in turn, you will be helping others. The Autism community is one of the most supportive groups of people I have ever met. Everyone wants to help. You can learn so much through others and help so many. Continue to educate yourself and others. Don’t get discouraged if something works for one child but doesn’t work for yours. Its all trial and error and each child is different, so don’t give up. Keep searching what’s right for YOUR child. Defy expectations! Your child will continue to amaze you. When you start to feel overwhelmed, take a little “me” time, even if it’s only 10 minutes to meditate to center yourself. When you take time for yourself, you can better care for others.
K. Diggs Learning and doing research on Autism, do you provide information for other parents who may or may not have an autistic child?
Jacqueline: I have shared a lot of my research and resources through articles like this, through social media, and on my website JacquelineLaurita.com.
Photo courtesy Jacqueline Laurita