Jacqueline Laurita

She may have to deal with a lot of drama in front of the camera, but it can't compare to the struggle Real Housewives of New Jersey's Jacqueline Laurita is facing off camera.

Laurita's 3-year-old son Nicholas is autistic, the reality star tells People. "I worry about him being independent when he's older," Laurita, 42, tells the magazine. "I spend all my time researching what we can do for him."

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Laurita says Nicholas began to regress with his speech and motor skills at 18 months, and soon after stopped answering to his name or acknowledging people when they entered a room. "We had no idea what was going on," says the mom to Ashlee, 21, and C.J., 10.

Nicholas' developmental problems came after Laurita struggled for years to have another baby. During the first season of the Real Housewives, she talked to the cameras about her multiple miscarriages through tears and was filmed consulting with several doctors about her fertility issues. However, she tells the magazine she hid Nicholas' issues from the camera while the fourth season of the show, currently airing on Bravo, was filming last year.

"You never want to think that your child isn't perfectly healthy. We didn't want to believe it was true," her husband, Chris, told People.

"We are completely grateful for the amount of understanding, compassion and support our family has received today," Laurita tweeted after the story broke Wednesday. "Thank u all so much! We WILL give back."

The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Sundays at 10/9c on Bravo.