Inspired by her son Nicholas, Jacqueline Laurita's mission in life is helping as many families as she can who are affected by Autism.
Describe your "job" in five words: Autism Advocate, Public Speaker, Beauty & Lifestyle Blogger, Author, Mommy Warrior.
What are your children's names and ages: Ashlee -26, CJ- 15, Nicholas- 8, I also have a Grandson, Cameron, who just turned one—I am a Glamma!
How do your children inspire you? They inspire me to have patience and to accept other people's differences and idiosyncrasies. They inspire me to make my family smile and tell them I love them every single day. They inspire me to do whatever I need to do to help make their lives easier for them in the future. They inspire me to face my fears just as I expect them to do. They inspire me to be the best mom/woman that I can be for them. They inspire me to live a healthy life, so that I can live a long life, in order to watch them continue to learn, grow, and evolve as long as I can! They inspire me to never give up when things get tough and/or I get tired.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about Nicholas'? I can't just say just one thing about Nicholas because he's too special. He is very loving and smart. He has an incredible memory. He's an amazing speller! He works harder than most typical kids do every single day just to do the things typical kids can do so easily and often take for granted. (He struggles to communicate, express emotion, perfecting his fine and gross motor skills, toilet training, getting dressed, being independent, etc.) It's a constant struggle that he fights through every single day. He may work hard, but even with his challenges, he is a very happy kid!
"My children inspire me to have patience and to accept other people's differences and idiosyncrasies. They inspire me to make my family smile and tell them I love them every single day. They inspire me to do whatever I need to do to help make their lives easier for them in the future."
What is one activity your whole family loves to do together? Going for car rides where we can talk to each other and find new places to go. We also like watching movies together, hiking (walks), and barbecuing/cooking while listening to music.
How do you survive a tough day of parenting? Besides having an amazing sense of humor?? I tag my husband to take over while I go meditate or take a bath by candlelight while listening to positive affirmations and/or motivational YouTube videos. Sometimes I'll even vent to my support group!
The one thing in your play space Nicholas can't live without? His iPad for sure!
What's the one thing you can't leave the house without when you are with Nicholas? His water in the only bottle he will drink out of.
What are Nicholas' favorite toys? Is an iPad a toy? Then that wins. He also loves his alphabet puzzle. He uses it to teach himself to spell new and familiar words or phrases he hears so he remembers them. He loves his picture puzzles and play kitchen too!
3 (ok, 4) Special needs Moms you follow on social media that inspire you and why?
Jenny McCarthy, because she has helped me so much on this journey and has given me hope as well as so many others through her advocacy through charity (Generation Rescue), many books, DVD's, Tv and radio show, etc. She has also been so hands on with me personally. Her son is years ahead of my son, so it's good to talk to someone who has been through it, so I can have an idea of what I may have to look forward to. She's a very smart girl, and obviously very beautiful! Great combo! I also love how she keeps a good sense of humor through it all. That is SO important!
Holly Robinson Pete, because she takes action between her advocacy, charity (Holly-Rod Foundation), and featuring her son who was diagnosed with Autism on her show! I admire the work she's done and continues to do. She's also part of my Warrior Mom group text chats. It's such a great support system for all of us. I love the ladies on our warrior Mom group chat! (Jodi Gomes, Dawn Neufield, Areva Martin, Maura West, and Holly!"
I think it is also a tie between Kristen Selby Gonzalez from Autism Hope Alliance and Lisa Ackerman from TACA Foundation because they both spend so much time dedicating themselves to their charities and gathering so much valuable information to help families like mine. They are both pretty amazing and inspiring with their #AutismAction. They both sent me a ton of valuable information at the start of our Autism journey. They both have boys on the spectrum.
What is the last thing you purchased for yourself that made you really happy? The Veggie Bullet! Lol! Ok, I may have bought a few key pieces of makeup at Sephora too! My Makeup For Ever HD Foundation, my NARS blush/bronzer duo in Orgasm/Laguna, my Becca highlighter in Champagne Pop, and my Lancôme Le Lipstique lip liner in IDEAL!
What advice would you give to a (new) special needs mom? I put together a list of 70 things that you can read here. If that's too overwhelming....focus on educating yourself on Autism. Believe your child always has the ability to learn and progress, no matter what the pace, so keep persevering and never give up! Seek out communities of support and people who have experienced similar struggles as you and who give you hope!
What quote do you live by?"This too shall pass." It just reminds me not to get too caught up in the moment when dealing with difficult circumstances in my life. If I am struggling with, or challenged by something, I know that once the moment has passed, I will have either learned something valuable from it, or it's going to make a funny and/or interesting story later. I try to just go with the flow and let go of things I can't control.