Famous or not, being a parent to a special needs child comes with its own unique set of challenges. But parents make themselves stronger for their kids, and step up to provide that extra love and caring. Although this journey is a complicated and sometimes difficult one, being parents to a special needs child is one of the most rewarding things out there — as these children are some of the gentlest, kindest, and most loving humans in this world. Here are some celebrities with special needs kids that you might not know about.
1. Katie Price
Model Katie Price is mom to Harvey. Harvey was born in 2002 and was diagnosed with Prader-WIlli syndrome (a genetic condition caused by the loss of certain genes), Autism, and blindness. This syndrome means that Harvey is hungry all the time, which makes maintaining a healthy weight difficult.
2. Sylvester Stallone
The star of the Rocky franchise has a son, Seargeoh, who was diagnosed with Autism from an extremely young age. On it, Stallone was quoted saying that “God and nature made him different. We have to accept Seargeoh the way he is and understand that his way is just more quiet and reserved.” Being accepting of your child is the most important thing you can do, we would argue.
3. Brian Littrell
You may have forgotten about this Backstreet Boy, but he’s very much alive and thriving. His son’s name is Baylee, and he has Kawasaki disease, which can cause many heart issues in children. Brian has a heart condition himself, which may surprise you.
4. Jacqueline Laurita
This Real Housewives of New Jersey star was very open about being a mom to an Autistic son, sharing her journey with the cameras. She doesn’t believe that people should be ashamed of their struggles, and instead should find strength in the support of others. Key advice here: don’t be afraid to ask for help!
5. Sarah Palin
This former Alaska governor might have a mixed reputation around the world, but she’s nothing but support of her son Trig, who was born with Down syndrome. She spoke about Trig when Rick Santorum paused his campaign, due to his daughter facing health troubles. Palin said: “Yes, we face extra fears and challenges, but our children are a blessing, and the rest of the world is missing out in not knowing this.”
6. John Travolta
John Travolta and his wife Kelly don’t really talk about their son Jett. Jett was diagnosed with Autism, and when he was 16, suffered a seizure. He hit his head during this episode and passed away. This was a major tragedy for the family.
7. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton has a special needs son Diezel, who was diagnosed with Autism. She explains that as a parent of an Autistic boy, she always felt there was something she could do differently. But through this process, she learned nothing was wrong with her son at all — the diagnosis just is what it is. There’s no place for blame in this scenario.
8. Colin Farrell
Yes, it’s true. The bad boy of Hollywood is a dad! His son has a genetic condition known as Angelman Syndrome. This rare condition is a mental disability that leads to jerky movements. Colin started working with the Katie Rose Foundation to feel less alone through this journey.
9. Joe Schneider
Joe is best-known for his acting work on Smallville but what people don’t know is that his son Chasen has Asperger’s. After his son was diagnosed, John became an avid advocate for children with Asperger’s and other types of Autism.
10. Jourdan Dunn
People might think that supermodel Jourdan Dunn has a picture-perfect life, but everyone faces struggles at some point. Dunn’s beautiful boy Riley was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, a debilitating blood disorder that causes serious pain, and hinders development. Today, she’s an ambassador for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, using her fame for good.
11. Jenny McCarthy
Jenny’s son, Evan, has autism. This actress has elicited very divided opinions due to her outspoken activism as an anti-vaxxer. She instead supports alternative medical treatments for Evan’s condition.
12. John C. McGinley
This isn’t an A-list name, but John McGinley is recognized for his work on Scrubs and is one of the most famous celebrity activists for Down syndrome due to his son Max, who has the condition. John is an international spokesman for the Global Down syndrome Foundation, and a proud advocate for the Special Olympics’ campaign, titled “Spread the Word to End the Word.