Tisha Campbell of 'My Wife & Kids' Breaks down in Tears as She Recalls When She Found out about Son Zen's Autism

“Tears were just falling down my face,” Tisha Campbell said in recalling the day she learned of her son's autism. She was on the set of a show when she failed to keep her composure.

At 18 months old, Tisha Campell’s son, Xen Martin was diagnosed with autism. Though the singer has spoken about the struggles and joys of raising a child with autism in the past, in the most recent episode of Uncensored, she opens up for the first time about the heartbreaking moment she learned about his condition. 

Tisha Campbell at Build Studio in November 2018. | Photo: Getty Images

Tisha Campbell at Build Studio in November 2018. | Photo: Getty Images

THE DEVASTATING CALL

Tisha was on the set of “My Wife and Kids” when she got the call from her son’s doctor who delivered the news to her. 

At first, Tisha tried to keep her composure thinking, “I’m one who does not show their emotions onset.” She added, “I do not believe in bringing your problems to set. That’s not other people’s problems. You have money to make. Keep it in-house.”

But news like that was devastating and Tisha eventually gave in to her emotions while standing in an empty hallway and learning from the doctor the words she dreaded to hear. 

“I accepted the diagnosis, but I was not going to accept the label.”

 

“I was walking down the hall, and thank God there was nobody in the hallway, and I get a call from the doctor,” the 51-year-old estranged wife of Duane Martin recalled.

“And she says, ‘I think I need for you to come in.’ And I said, ‘I can’t. I’m on set.’ And she said, ‘I really need for you to come in.’ I said, ‘What are you going to tell me? My son is autistic?’ And she said, ‘Yes.'”

DEALING WITH THE SHOCK

Following the shock were the uncontrollable tears that spilled from her eyes. “Tears were just falling down my face,” said an emotional Tisha. 

After that, she recalled hanging up and walking to the makeup room to clean up. When she walked back out, she spoke to a woman whose child was on the show and learned that her child too was autistic. When Tisha revealed to the woman that her son was diagnosed with autism, the woman congratulated her and encouraged her to “engage.”

“As a mother of a child who had to go through specific struggles, you want the best for them, but when you get this particular diagnosis you have to retrain your brain...

That was one advise that Tisha took to heart. In fact, she confessed, “I don’t think I stopped talking to that boy for the first five years of his life.”

For Tisha who learned to accept Xen’s condition, there was one thing she wasn’t going to stand for. 

“I accepted the diagnosis, but I was not going to accept the label.”

ON RETRAINING HER BRAIN

In 2017, the singer sat down with Maria More of Majic 107.5 whose son was also diagnosed with autism and spoke of her journey raising Xen. The first thing she said she did was “retrain” her brain. 

“As a mother of a child who had to go through specific struggles, you want the best for them, but when you get this particular diagnosis you have to retrain your brain to think of your dreams and aspirations when it comes to your child to be a little bit more basic.”

In an earlier interview on Kocktails with Khloe Tisha also realized how her passion as an actress came in handy in her efforts to teach Xen a few things like empathy. She told the reality star that because empathy is one of the hardest things to teach someone, her ability to master an emotion became useful. 

ANOTHER CELEBRITY MOM WHO CHAMPIONS FOR HER SON'S AUTISM

Tisha isn’t on this journey alone. She leans on the wisdom of fellow celebrity moms like Holly Robinson Peete whose son, RJ Peete also lives with autism.  

Holly Robinson Peete also has a son with autism and has been a staunch advocate for its awareness. | Photo: Getty Images

Holly Robinson Peete also has a son with autism and has been a staunch advocate for its awareness. | Photo: Getty Images

Holly is a staunch advocate for autism awareness. She shared her story to People more than a decade ago in order to help others who were walking the path she had.  

RJ is now 21 and works in his dream job as a clubhouse attendant for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Holly is proud of how far he’s gone.

"He’s doing all these things that I was told he would never do,” she says. “It really makes you emotional, because I can’t believe he’s come so far, and I’m still so blessed.”

Of sharing RJ’s journey to the world, she said,

“He’s such a genuine kid. I wanted people to see that and fall in love with RJ, and then they wouldn’t be so scared of autism. I think he’s a great ambassador, and I knew his spirit and personality would come through.”

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