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I think we can all admit that one of the most toxic Bravo franchises is Real Housewives of New Jersey. There is straight up malice and manipulation which seems to eclipse the regular ol' mean girl antics of the other series. That said, I believe that all the women on RHONJ are both guilty of the abhorrent behavior as well as victims of it. Case in point? Jacqueline Laurita. There were so many instances in which I felt sorry for her, yet as the seasons progressed, she became part of the problem. 

Of course, when her son Nicolas was diagnosed with autism, Jacqueline's priorities shifted away from the drama, and there were several rumors circulating that she wouldn't return for a sixth season. Her daughter Ashlee recently debunked this gossip, but nothing has been confirmed. Perhaps if she does return, Jacq will use the opportunity to show viewers the woman we first met in season one.

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This month, Jacqueline graces the cover of lifestyle publication Millennium Magazine. In an in depth interview, she discusses her time on RHONJ, how she was affected by Nicolas' diagnosis. The whole thing is worth a read, and you can find it here…in the mean time, enjoy an excerpt below!

How did you get involved with The Real Housewives?

The producers went to a local salon looking for a group of women for a show called “Jersey Moms.” They were seeking women who had interesting lifestyles or were affluent. The owners of the salon gave the producers my number and when they called me, we spoke for 2.5 hours and then asked for an in-person interview. The rest is history.

Why do you think the viewers and fans connect so readily with you?

I’m “relatable.”  My fertility struggles. Feuding with my daughter. Friendship fighting. Being open with my life. When you put down your walls and be yourself, someone will connect with you and relate with you. I’m okay with not being perfect.

Do you have any regrets about the show?

None. Bad things shape you into who you are. Of course I ask myself why did I lose control? Everyone has those moments, but here it was caught on camera and highlighted for everyone to see. It helps with personal growth. I did not always like what I said or did. But I learned and have no regrets. And I have used my public image as a platform to push forth autism awareness.

You have stated that nothing could prepare you for your son Nicholas’ diagnosis with autism. Can you share with us what you experienced?

It was a crash course. When we first noticed that there was something going on I started researching. Any and everything I could get my hands on. We had to wait for three months to get an appointment with a developmental pediatrician for a diagnosis. I found a website called www.Autismspeaks.com and ordered their 100 day kit which gave guidance on what to do in the first 100 days. We also learned about the GF/CF diet and taking supplements. Our first goal was to get our child the healthiest he could be from the inside out so he could respond his best to his therapies. Jenny McCarthy and Candace McDonald from Generation Rescue led us to a great doctor in California to help get us started. I realized I had to do something now and didn’t have time to wait. But the only thing we could control was research, diet, and supplements.

You were actually filming The Real Housewives while all of this was transpiring.

It was difficult filming season 3 and 4 when Nicholas was regressing and before he was diagnosed. Our focus changed. And what was important has changed. Priorities. Who was copying someone else’s eye shadow was no longer meaningful. The show did provide me with a platform for raising autism awareness. And the amount of people who reached out was huge.

Your decision to share Nicholas’ diagnosis has helped so many people. What made you decide to do this?

We were not ashamed of our son. And we don’t want to raise our son to ever be ashamed of it either. The diagnosis is just one piece of who he is as a whole individual. And when we made it public, so many people reached out to us. Letters, emails, social media poured in to provide us with support and encouragement and information and sharing their journey. It helped us so much and gave us so much strength and hope. And I do not know what I would have done without it. Today, I want to give back to someone else, and do what others did for us. I want to turn around and share with others.

Are there any books in the works?

Chris and I are working with the literary agent, Sterling Lord, on a book titled Defy Expectations to talk about our journey with our son’s diagnosis. The title reflects our firm belief that you should never let anyone tell you something is not possible. Anything is possible if you believe and persevere. Never give up! What worked for someone else may not work for you. There’s a quote: “If you’ve met A child with autism, you’ve met A child with autism. Each and every one of them is so wonderfully different.” You have to find something else. You got to see how your child’s brain works. That’s how you get into their world and that’s what makes the connection. Hopefully our story will help someone else.

I applaud Jacqueline for all the work she's doing to promote autism awareness, and I'd like to see a happier, more positive version of her (and all the others) on the upcoming season!

TELL US-WHAT DO YOU THINK OF JACQ'S INTERVIEW? DO YOU WANT HER TO RETURN TO RHONJ? 

[Photo Credit: Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com]

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