By Alyssa Goldman, EnStarz | Aug 22, 2012 10:24 AM EDT
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Viewers have seen "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Jacqueline Laurita fight with former friends Teresa Giudice and Danielle Staub as well as her daughter Ashlee. But nothing could've prepared her for his biggest battle yet: her son's autism diagnosis.
Laurita tried to have another baby for years, so when baby Nicholas finally arrived three years ago, she wanted to celebrate his every achievement.
At 18 months old, Laurita noticed something was wrong. Nicholas' speech and motor skills were declining and eventually, he refused to answer to his name or did not notice people enter a room.
"We had no idea what was going on," Laurita told People magazine.
Laurita gave the weekly magazine an exclusive interview into a world she hid during the series' season 4 taping.
After taking Nicholas from doctor to doctor, Nicholas was diagnosed with autism.
The mom of three (Ashlee, 21, and C.J., 10) has since spent much of her time doing extensive research about Nicholas's condition. But nothing can quite calm her fears over her son's future. "I worry about him being independent when he's older," she said.
Jacqueline and her husband, Chris, took the news hard. "You never want to think that your child isn't perfectly healthy. We didn't want to believe it was true," he said.
In the "About Me" section of Laurita's website, it states: "Jacqueline does not take anything for granted and believes that true wealth about love, family, friends, personal growth, and helping others in need."
Laurita isn't wasting anytime moping around. The reality star has offered to host a benefit for the foundation, Autism Speaks, at The Brownstone on Sept. 20.
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