Rosie O’Donnell Writes Essay About Daughter Dakota’s Autism

Rosie O’Donnell called her daughter Dakota’s autism a “gift” in an emotional new essay.

The former co-host of “The View” wrote via People Wednesday that parenting the 9-year-old has taught her “much deeper compassion” than she’s ever experienced.

“[I] really listen and communicate in a way that I’ve never had to do with my other kids,” she added. “She teaches me.”

O’Donnell, who is also the mother of Parker, 27, Chelsea, 25, Blake, 22, and Vivienne, 19, noted that she knew early on that something wasn’t right with her “quirky” youngest daughter.

“Sometimes she would stare away in a way that she felt out of reach for a moment,” she wrote of her “very verbal” child.

“She had a little stomping with her hands,” the 60-year-old actress continued, referring to a repetitive behavior often associated with developmental disabilities.

While Dakota’s diagnosis felt like “a punch in the stomach,” O’Donnell wrote that she now considers the discovery to be the moment an “angel in [her] to live.”

The Daytime Emmy winner explains, “Suddenly there’s a kid with a lot of needs, and you spend a lot of time trying to connect at their level. It’s not easy – but it’s necessary to let them know they’re seen.”

O’Donnell is intentional to ensure that her “very curious” and sometimes “clumsy” daughter doesn’t feel “embarrassed” about being on the spectrum, but instead sees it as a “different operating system”.

Rosie O'Donnell
“Autism is her superpower,” O’Donnell wrote.
Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty Im

“I told her from the start that autism is her superpower,” the comedian wrote. “I hear her announce to strangers, ‘My name is Dakota. I’m 9 and have allergies and autism.’

“We once played on the beach with a new family,” she recalls. “I said softly to the father, ‘She’s neurodivergent.’ Then Dakota turned and said, “I have autism. It’s OK.'”

O’Donnell, who first revealed Dakota’s diagnosis in a 2016 blog post, imagines her youngest child “Jeopardy!” wins. one day, because “her ability to absorb information is unparalleled.”

Rosie O'Donnell
O’Donnell is also the mother of Parker, Chelsea, Blake and Vivienne.
Getty Images for SiriusXM

The former host of the “Rosie O’Donnell Show” gushed, “The things she knows – about sea anemones and tide pools. I turned 60 without knowing about the Mariana Trench. Now I know all about it!”

O’Donnell adopted Dakota in 2013 while married to Michelle Rounds, who committed suicide four years later. She shares her eldest four children with ex-wife Kelli Carpenter.

Vivienne called her mom on TikTok in August for not having had a “normal” upbringing, and O’Donnell jokingly clapped back with a video of her own.

“I’m perfectly normal,” the SMILF alum said sarcastically last month. “Gosh, Viv. I’m going to tell you some secrets!”

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