On a recent episode of actress Holly Robinson Peete's reality show For Peete's Sake, her son RJ Peete, an aspiring model, participated in a photo shoot. As the families perused the photos together, Peete had an important message for others with autism watching the show.
"To all the kids with autism out there, you can do anything you want to," Peete says to his mother, Holly Robinson Peete, and photographer Andrew Macpherson, who were present to unveil his new fashion shots.
Peete was diagnosed with autism at age 3, according his an essay written by his mother in April.
In her essay, Holly Robinson Peete wrote that doctors told her that RJ would not be able to communicate, say "I love you" unprompted or play on a sports team.
However, after years of intense therapy, Peete has accomplished many of the things that doctors said he would never do.
"You think you know your kid and his limitations, then BAM! He just surprises you," says Holly. "One of the most gratifying things about being a mom is when your kids exceed your expectations."
Aside from modeling, Peete says in the episode that he's also begun to write and perform his own raps — despite doctors' predictions that he would be nonverbal.
Peete co-authored a book about his life with autism with his mother and his twin sister titled Same But Different: Teen Life on the Autism Express. He also wrote an open letter to the teen with autism who was bullied by 50 Cent in a video the rapper uploaded to his Instagram.
"I wanted to tell you I was sorry that you had to go through that," Peete wrote. "And you were at work. I just got my first job and if that happened to me at work, it would have been even worse."
The rapper later apologized and donated money to advocacy group Autism Speaks.