The former child actress, who played Cindy Brady on the hit American sitcom, has struggled to raise Michael as a single mother ever since he was diagnosed with the developmental disorder, which restricts the boy’s ability to connect with others.
Recently the animal-loving star, who turned 51 on Tuesday (14Aug12), teamed up with bosses at Los Angeles charity Precious Paws to help care for homeless felines – and Olsen reveals her new role as a foster parent has had an overwhelming effect on her child.
During an interview with U.S. breakfast show Today, she said, “My son has Asperger’s syndrome. Empathy is a little more difficult for aspies and so I thought getting involved in the foster parenting might help… I don’t expect other people to be as crazy as me (by adopting so many cats), but I think it’s really rare, or even impossible, for somebody to not benefit from the companionship of another species, another life form.”
And the smiling teenager agreed with his mum, adding, “It’s basically like training wheels on a bike for me, to get (to) the same level of compassion and care like other humans.”