Never underestimate the beauty of someone with autism.
For stars like Jenni "JWoww" Farley, Joey Fatone, Jacqueline Laurita, Holly Robinson Peete and Boyz II Men member Shawn Stockman, Autism Awareness Month is personal. These parents of kids with autism are celebrating the gifts their children provide to the world around them and joining professionals to educate others about a condition that is estimated to affect 1 in 44 children in the United States today.
"I love that the general public is trying to learn and be more inclusive," speech-language pathologist and board-certified behavior analyst Dr. Ali Arena shared with E! News. "One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is that all autistic people struggle with social skills and making friends. That is not true. Many of the kids and young adults I work with have thriving friendships and relationships."
Autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. While many communicate in different ways, Dr. Ali is constantly blown away by the intelligent and enthusiastic individuals she works with on a daily basis.
"Despite difficulties with regulation and communication, autistic kids have a beautiful gift of finding their passions, connecting with them and sharing that joy with the people in their life," Dr. Ali added. "It's so remarkable to watch what may seem like a small interest as a child grow into a career."
E! News spoke with moms and dads to share what makes their child with autism a superstar and a gift to those around him. Keep reading to see what makes these children shine.