IfYouBlinked Women Crush | Celeb Moms Spreading Autism Awareness


I wasn’t going to let April pass (can you believe it’s almost over?) without mentioning National Autism Awareness month. It’s a topic often overlooked–all the more reason to discuss it–unless you’re a part of this group; celeb moms that make autism awareness a priority everyday because their own children are affected.

So in honor of Women Crush Wednesday, IfYouBlinked is honoring Holly Robinson-Peete, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Toni Braxton and “R&B Divas of Atlanta’s” Meela Williams for their autism advocacy.

Let’s start with Holly Robinson-Peete. The actress/daytime host started the HollyRod Foundation (with her baller hubby, Rod Peete) in 1997 to not only help people living with autism and Parkinson’s disease cope, but also honor her son and father-in-law experiencing the disorders, respectively. Since that time she has used every drop of her celebrity to talk about this misunderstood neurological disorder. From appearing on Celebrity Apprentice to hosting annual fundraisers, and using her star power to shine a light on missing autistic boy Avonte Oquendo.  Recently, she partnered with Stella and Dot to design a visionary bracelet where all proceeds benefit her foundation.

I wouldn’t change my son for the world, but I would change the world for my son.

Next is Gina, uh Tisha. Tisha Campbell-Martin discovered her son had autism at 18 months. The Martin star knew right away that something wasn’t right with her first-born. Acting on that mommy intuition she took him to a series of docs that kept diagnosing him as normal. Until, she met one that didn’t. Hear her inspiring journey below and what her non-profit, Colored My Mind does to help minority families experiencing the disorder.

tonibraxtonToni Braxton’s freakum dress may have stole the show at UNCF’s Evening of the Stars (airing this weekend on BET) but if you look even closer…at THE WAIST you’ll see the speck of blue is her way of shouting out Autism Speaks. The same org that gave her tools she needed when her three-year-old son was diagnosed with autism. She showed her gratitude by becoming their celebrity spokeswoman and soon after a global ambassador.


Meela, R&B Diva and former member of girl group 702, established her own foundation–Parents Reaching Out to Understand Developmental Delays (P.R.O.U.D)–after discovering her son (with Musiq Soul Child) was autistic. Each year she holds an annual autism awareness event open to all families with autistic/special needs kids. This year’s get together will be this weekend.

Just to give some background on Autism. It’s a brain development disorder that affects speech and social interaction. The CDC reports 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism and 1 out of 42 boys get the disorder. Whereas, 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed in the U.S.

Holly Robinson-Peete Writes Farewell Message to Avonte Oquendo

R.I.P Avonte

R.I.P Avonte

The search has stopped. The 14-year-old autistic boy that volunteers, cops and family members have been combing New York City streets for for three  months has been discovered. Avonte Oquendo’s body parts and clothing has been found washed ashore on the East River in Queens. DNA confirmed that the body parts–left arm, legs and torso–were a match for Avonte yesterday evening.

For obvious reasons, it’s a punch in the gut to family members and volunteers, who persevered through the changing seasons and loss of interest by law enforcement, determined to find the little boy whose love of trains tempted him to wander off like this before.

This time was different. He wasn’t found at any of the 468 subway stations in NYC or anywhere else. Until now. It’s not the happy ending we all hoped, prayed and wished for. But a small part of me is grateful he was at least found, because now the family has found closure.

Actress Holly Robinson-Peete, who has an autistic child and runs a foundation dedicated to autism, visited Avonte’s family last year, offered these sullen and sharp words to those listening:

Rest with angels, Sweet baby boy. I am so sorry that adults failed you that day. I am so sorry you were not protected in a place that was supposed to protect and look out for you as you ran into a world you couldn’t navigate on your own… I pray for your family that they have courage and strength to endure this agony. I pray that NO OTHER FAMILY ever has to endure such an unthinkable and preventable tragedy. 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏#ripavonteoquendo#autism #wandering #wakeUP

R.I.P Avonte, may your death not be held in vain.

Actress Holly Robinson Peete Joins Search for Missing Autistic Teen in New York




Two weeks ago I thought this would be resolved.  Unfortunately the mysterious disappearance of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo remains unsolved, despite NYPD officers’ and countless volunteers leaving no stone unturned to reunite him with his family.

I know what you might be thinking…there are countless brown faced men, women, boys and girls that go missing everyday that are never the focus on the news, hence this popular show. However, as troubling as that reality is for us. Avonte’s case is even more startling because he has no voice. He’s a 14-year-old autistic teenager–whose love of trains led him to these safe albeit noisy havens–that ran out of the front door of his school in Long Island City Oct. 4th without a trace of his destination.

So, if you haven’t seen the flier above (please take a good long look) plastered on subway walls or heard a police cruiser with this announcement:

Hi Avonte, it’s mom. Come to the flashing lights Avonte.

Please listen and pay attention.

We know our girl Holly Robinson Peete did. Earlier this week, Holly made a visit to the family’s #FindAvonte headquarters in Long Island City, New York.

Photo credit: Instagram

Photo credit: Instagram

Holly comforted and prayed with the family of the autistic boy during her visit. And blasted Avonte’s school for letting the young boy walk out the door without stopping him.

I cannot fathom the horror of leaving your nonverbal child with #autismin the hands of a school that’s supposed to look out for him and he is allowed to just walk outside on his own. A security guard watched as he skipped away… #worstnightmare #autism We need everyone in schools to be aware and educated.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly released a statement saying the security guard followed normal procedures. Because cameras show her telling Avonte to go back to class when she saw him attempting to leave.

This tells a different story.

Considering Holly is the parent of an autistic child and has an organization dedicated to educating families about autism is understandably why she caught major feelings over #findAvonte mission.

Please keep your eyes peeled…we must #findAvonte



HollyRod Foundation Rips the Runway for DesignCare Event

Vivien Killilea/WireImage

Vivien Killilea/WireImage

Russell Simmons wasn’t the only one star gazing for a good cause on Saturday, Holly Robinson Peete looked delish in a hot pink evening gown to attend her 15th annual DesignCares event, which is made up of a fashion show, performances and live/silent auctions, to raise money for the HollyRod Foundation. Holly and husband former NFLer Rodney Peete created the HollyRod Foundation to provide resources and financial support to families suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and Autism.



Two causes close to Peete’s heart after watching her father suffer from Parkinson’s disease and her elder son diagnosed with Autism.

The event was held at a private residence in Malibu. Neyo rocked the crowd made up of chocolate Hollywood A-listers….like

Vivien Killilea/WireImage

Vivien Killilea/WireImage

Magic and Cookie Johnson, Duane Martin and Tisha Campbell Martin, whose son is also diagnosed with Autism, and lovebirds Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe.

Vivien Killilea/Wire Image

Vivien Killilea/Wire Image

Vivien Killilea/Wire Image

Vivien Killilea/Wire Image

Vivien Killilea/Wire Image

Vivien Killilea/Wire Image

Don’t you love when sisters support sisters? Vivica A. Fox, Nancy O’Dell, Shaun Robinson, Garcelle Beauvais and Ms. Toni Childs aka Jill Marie Jones showed love to Holly on Saturday.