Special Needs Now

Why This "Twilight" Actress Is Speaking Out for Autism

Nikki Reed
Nikki Reed, aka. Rosalie in the "Twilight" series, has a personal connection with autism.

Her brother, 14, was diagnosed along the spectrum at 2 years old, the age when kids are typically diagnosed. But unlike kids who are non-verbal, Reed's brother is high functioning, which means that others may not always realize that he has autism.

"[My brother] wants people to understand he's his own person. He doesn't want a label. And one way of avoiding a label is to spread awareness," Reed told People at a recent Lindt Chocolate/Autism Speaks event.

Reed even directed and produced a short film last year called "Think Normal," about Jason McElwain, an athlete with high-functioning autism who became famous for scoring 20 points during a high school basketball game in 2006. The film was inspired by Reed's desire to connect with her brother.

"We're constantly searching for ways to inspire him and ways for him to feel special and better about himself," she told EPSN in the video below. Reed also hoped to help others connect universally with a story focused on a young man achieving his dreams and a mother's struggle with wanting the best for her child.

The big sis is particularly proud of her little brother, who has discovered his love for running and who she credits as being super smart, with an incredible memory. For Reed, this is the most important goal of raising awareness for autism: "[To] treat everyone like an individual and learn not to generalize autism. With autism, people make assumptions but it's very broad and everyone's so different. You have to treat each person as an individual."

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com. She loves collecting children's picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea.

 

Photo of Nikki Reed via Ovidiu HrubaruShutterstock.com