Celebrity Parents of Children with Special Needs

Having a celebrity speak out about his or her child's special needs is often a good way to get attention for a particular disability. These celebrities have talked about their child's disability in the media, providing inspiration and advocacy. 

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins
Scott Gries/Staff/Getty Images

Child's Diagnosis: Peanut Allergy
Quote: In an interview with the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, the country singer said of his daughter Brianna, "She is a mature little girl. It is both amazing and heartbreaking at the same time to see how mindful she’s learned to be about her food allergies. She has had several reactions which required a trip to the hospital, so she knows how careful she has to be. She knows to ask first before eating any food."

Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton
Moses Robinson/Contributor/Getty Images

Child's Diagnosis: Autism
Quote: In an interview with MORE, the Grammy Award winner described her feelings when her son Diesel was diagnosed with autism at around age three: "Complete blame. I thought it was because of something I did during my prenatal care. I started thinking, 'Was it because I didn't take my vitamins every day?' It took a few friends to make me realize that there was nothing I could have done to prevent this."
Read More: "Toni Braxton Opens Up About Filing for Bankruptcy and Her Family Struggles"

Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Child's Diagnosis: Angelman Syndrome
Quote: In an October 15, 2007 interview with the Irish Independent newspaper, the actor said of his then-four-year-old son, "The only time I'm reminded that there is something different about him -- that he has some deviation of what is perceived to be normal -- is when I see him with other four-year-olds. Then I go 'oh yeah' and it comes back to me. But from day one I felt that he's the way he's meant to be."
Read More: "Colin Farrell's Son Has Angelman Syndrome"

Mark Feuerstein

Child's Diagnosis: Congenital Heart Defect
Quote: In an August 2013 interview with Heart Insight, a publication of the American Heart Association, the actor talks about his daughter's diagnosis of ALCAPA, or anomalous left coronary from the pulmonary artery. "The condition was so rare it wasn't on our radar at all," Feuerstein is quoted as saying. "In hindsight, I wish we had done a pulse oximetry screening for newborns, but it's not a standard procedure, and wasn't even suggested when Addie was born."
Read More: "For the Love of Addie"

Christopher Gorham

Christopher Gorham
Lester Cohen/WireImage/Getty Images

Child's Diagnosis: Asperger Syndrome
Quote: In a June 3, 2011 interview with Disability Scoop in which he discussed his role as a blind CIA analyst in the USA series Covert Affairs, Gorham also talked about his 9-year-old son's recent Asperger's diagnosis. "Second grade was when we really knew we needed to start investigating and finding help. What we were doing didn’t seem to be working and things were getting worse and he was just getting further and further away from his peers. (He was) not understanding the subtleties of socializing, not getting sarcasm, not understanding the difference between someone who’s really being nice to you and someone who’s actually making fun of you, not understanding that all attention isn’t positive. It’s really hard for a parent when your son comes home and tells you that his best friends are the two or three kids who are actually the meanest to him."

Greg Grunberg

Greg Grunberg
John M. Heller/Getty Images

Child's Diagnosis: Epilepsy
Quote: In an interview with Everyday Health, the actor best known for the TV series Heroes talked about dealing with his then-7-year-old son's epilepsy, giving this advice for parents of children newly diagnosed: "My two messages are: Don't settle, and get to a specialist. And if that specialist can't get the seizures under control, seek out another specialist. Also, it's going to be okay. You're not alone, don't freak out, and know that there are other people going through the exact same thing."
Read More: Talk About It!

Brian Littrell

Brian Littrell
Leon Halip/WireImage/Getty Images

Child's Diagnosis: Kawasaki Syndrome
Quote: In an April 1, 2009 interview with People Magazine, the Backstreet Boys singer and his wife talked about the medical odyssey that ended with their 6-year-old son, Baylee, being correctly diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease. Advised Littrell, "Never give up. Doctors are not always right, but they are there to help. Be an advocate for your child."
Read More: "The Littrells Open Up About Baylee's Kawasaki Disease"

John C. McGinley

John C. McGinley
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Child's Diagnosis: Down Syndrome
Quote: In a December 1, 2008 interview with Exceptional Parent, the actor best-known for his role on Scrubs gave this advice to parents of children diagnosed with Down syndrome based on his experience with his then-11-year-old son: "Number one: you didn’t do anything wrong. First and foremost this is not reciprocity for any transgressions that you may have done when you were younger. You didn’t do anything. The kid has an extra 21st chromosome. That’s it. That’s number one. Number two: breathe. Get some air, because it’s going to be a while. Number three: start discovering stores of patience that you didn’t know existed within yourself. Because some things—reading, writing, walking, holding your hand, having a catch—are going to take a little longer. So if you can find a container with patience and sprinkle it generously over your Wheaties in the morning, do it."
Read More: "The Role of a Lifetime"

Holly Robinson Peete

Holly Robinson Peete
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage/Getty Images

Child's Diagnosis: Autism
Quote: In an April 19, 2010 interview with The Stir, the actress spoke about her experience with her then-12-year-old son's autism: "So we've gone through peaks and valleys, ups and downs, really really high highs and really really low lows, and it's been an exciting yet difficult journey for us. I want to say "positive" because I think it's so important that parents stay hopeful, and we weren't very hopeful in the beginning. As we started to chip our way through this, we had some moments of hope and positive things happened that sustained us through this journey. Again, with the diagnosis, we were given this list of nevers, and that list of nevers was very hard to navigate. They didn't give us a whole lot of hope."
Read More: "My Autism Story: Holly Robinson Peete & Her Family's Approach to Autism"

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart
Lester Cohen/WireImage/Getty Images

Child's Diagnosis: Celiac disease
Quote: A June 25 post on the Jewish Daily Forward quotes Stewart as saying about his son, during an interview with Jennifer Esposito, who also has the disease, "Celiac disease is quite different from, what it’s called, like gluten sensitivity or the more faddish of those types of diets. ... My son has this. And has a very bad case of it. It’s very painful, and sometimes you have to convince people it’s a real thing. ... For the boy, he was having these terrible episodes of vomiting. And then he got anemic, and we were absolutely devastated and frightened that he was dying. We couldn’t figure out what was going on.”
Read More: Jon Stewart Talks Publicly About Son’s Celiac Disease on the Savvy Celiac blog.
View: Video of the Daily Show segment.

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