Angie Harrington and husband Chris' 4-year-old son Hart received an autism diagnosis in the fall
Angie Harrington Putting family first.
in conversation with people confirmed that she is going real housewives of salt lake cityThe mother of three, 41, reveals for the first time that son Hart is with her husband chris harrington Autism has been diagnosed.
path to diagnosis It hasn't been easy for the blended family of seven, which includes the reality star elder sonCole, 15, and Rome, 18, as well as her husband's two older children.
“I think we noticed that there was something out of the ordinary with Hart, probably around the age of one year,” Angie told People. “He was very advanced physically. He was walking by 9 months. He was climbing on things, but he wasn't saying the little words you'd expect your 1-year-old to say.”
As the couple tried to figure out what might have caused Hart's differences, covid hit and made it hard to get conclusive answers.
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“As you can imagine, everything was over Zoom, and often, when it's about autism, it's about seeing the nuances and the behavior of the child. So we decided to do it on Zoom.” Tried it and it turned out to be inconclusive,” she explains. “They just wanted to do more tests, and so once COVID was gone, that's when we took him in for evaluation.”
When Hart was 3 years old, Angie tried to enroll him in preschool, describing the process as “extremely challenging”.
“As a parent, I would have to be there for the first 30 minutes and then sneak out, and he would panic. So I was sitting in preschool with all these 3-year-olds. I'd watch him with the other Was.” Kids, and other kids would follow directions,” Angie recalls.
“Hart would be wandering around the classroom, looking into the teacher's supplies. And I remember crying in my car, just feeling like the biggest failure I could be because I felt like a parent.” As in it was my fault, that I had done something wrong.”
“I remember going home to my husband and saying, ‘Daddy, he's different. Our boy is different,' and we knew that, but that moment was very defining for us.”
In November 2022, Hart underwent several tests. She says that after about two hours, Angie got a call from the doctors.
“He was like, ‘Well, your son has autism.' We were like, ‘Okay, wow. I thought you were going to set us up for this,'” she recalls. “It was very clinical, if that makes sense. And so it was an intense moment for sure. But at the same time, knowledge is power. We believe that.”
Still, “it was overwhelming,” she admits. “We cried. It was not the dream we had for our child, but we had to empower ourselves.”
Angie and Chris took some time to digest the news before sharing it with family over the holidays.
“We wanted to make sure we dealt with it, and we were in an appropriate headspace to break the news to the rest of the family,” she tells People.
While she says family members weren't “extremely surprised,” she notes, “You never think this is going to be your reality.”
The revelation managed to bring the family “much closer”, with Angie saying, “It just bonded us all on a different level.”
“We all come together to protect Hart and love Hart and do whatever we can to help her through this process. My husband has a transgender child and our It's nice to see a transgender kid stand up for him because he knows some of Hart's challenges.” I am about to face Of course, it's different, but it's also aligned in many ways,” she shares emotionally.
These days, much of Angie's time is spent finding different ways to connect with Hart. Lately, dance has been a hit, which is thrilling for the former Utah Jazz Dancer,
“It's really sweet. I credit my years and years of dancing with my ability to be disciplined and focused because ADHD, it's challenging. With Hart, I see it fixing him because so often “Kids with autism are drawn to music and from what I'm learning, they have a gift for hearing pitches and sounds. I think that really resonates with music.”
She continues, “It's been very therapeutic, and it's been a fun way for us to connect. It's great because in those moments, I can usually get a little bit of eye contact from him, which is a The challenge is when you have an autistic child. The dance is really done. it's great for us to connect,
The family is also working with therapists and exploring holistic approaches, “trying to be creative every day.”
“And quite honestly, I think that's another thing that parents need to know. It's very normal to feel overwhelmed, to feel that you lack the ability to handle it, to feel that You don't know what you're doing. All you do is do the best you can,” she says. “I mean, there are times at night, I just climb into bed and my brain is so fried. My husband will start talking to me, and I'll be like, ‘I need an hour.' ‘ I'm tired. My brain is tired. I really feel for the other parents of children with autism,
By sharing her family's story, Angie is hoping to reduce some of the stigma surrounding neurodivergence.
“I think it's so important to hear other people's stories and see so many neurodivergent people who are defined by their diagnosis,” says Angie. “They have the same feelings and the same fears and excitement and joys that we all have. Of course, I'm not an expert. I'm still learning every day.”
She is also hopeful that parents of neurotic children will understand how common neurodivergence is and how these children's different behaviors are not the result of parenting.
“We've had some pretty major meltdowns on airplanes, which is very common for kids with autism. What other adults don't understand If your child is acting hysterical, it could possibly be because they have autism. We've had some really negative experiences with critical people cursing us because we can't soothe our baby on an airplane, and it's really stressful,” she shares.
“There are those moments where you want to burst into tears because you're like, ‘I'm doing everything I can, and that's not okay. I don't know what to do now,'” she continues. “I understand that a child screaming on an airplane is no fun for anyone, but I think it's important that people understand that we don't know what people are going through. It's not always a child lacking discipline. , you know?”
The family is working on making lifestyle adjustments to best support Hart while providing support to Angie and Chris as they hold each other through this journey.
“We have definitely adjusted our lifestyle to meet the needs of the heart. my husband is a wonderful father, and so he's been very good at coming home first. He was a person working 60, 70 hours a week, and now he's a person working 40 hours a week,” Angie explains.
“We hired a part-time nanny to make sure we get our time because it's important that she and I stay connected. We spend a lot of our time doing new activities together, getting outJust to take our minds off the situation at home for a minute,” she says.
“Life isn't the same, but that's okay. It's our new normal and you just have to come up with a plan that works for your family so that everyone's needs are met. And we're still trying to figure it out.” Being honest.”
For Angie, that means moving away from real housewives of salt lake city,
“I was offered to come back but it's just a time when my family really needed me, and I wasn't able to do it,” she tells PEOPLE, going on to explain how Difficult to maintain full-time employment For parents of children with autism, “Statistics say they make 56% less money than someone with a neurotic child.”
Angie says she's got the support of the cast heather gay And Meredith MarksTo whom he told about the diagnosis of Heart.
“I shared with him that I have yet to choose my family. I am already struggling with the focus and show adds another element of tension, I want to give my kids what they need at this time. And I have to wrap my head around what we're doing with Hart to figure out how I can move forward in my work as well,” she says. “They were extremely supportive and wonderful.”
Angie has a lot of fond memories of her time on the reality series, though she admits that no one Worry And adhdThere were times when filming was “extremely uncomfortable”.
“It's hard to get the full story on what's going on. I think nobody is naïve to the fact that things are edited a certain way to make a television show, but I think it's Important that people know it's not for the faint of heart,” she says.
“I'm generally not someone who would want controversy in my life. I think with ADHD comes the gift of humor and goofiness and not being filtered and saying and doing things that are fun,” Angie reflects on her casting.
“But I was also able to raise awareness for the transgender community on that show, so I'm forever grateful for that. And I can't tell you the number of direct messages and notes from people in the transgender community or who have a transgender loved one saying Has been, ‘Thank you very much. We think we saw, we felt.' It was worth all the challenges that reality TV can bring.”
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