Rosie O’Donnell writes emotional essay about 9-year-old 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” writes. through people Wednesday that parenting the 9-year-old has taught her a “compassion much deeper” than she’s ever experienced.

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

O’Donnell, who is also mother to Parker, 27, Chelsea, 25, Blake, 22, and Vivienne, 19, noted that she knew early on that something was wrong with her “weird” youngest daughter.

“Sometimes she would stare in a way that felt momentarily unattainable,” she wrote of her “strongly verbal” child.

“She had a little bit of stimulation that she did with her hands,” the 60-year-old actress continued, referring to a repetitive behavior typically associated with developmental disorders.

While Dakota’s diagnosis felt like a “punch in the gut,” O’Donnell wrote that she now looks back on the discovery as the moment “an angel fell into [her] life.”

The Daytime Emmy winner explained, “All of a sudden there’s a kid with a lot of needs and you spend a lot of time trying to connect on their level. It is not easy, but it is necessary to tell them that they are seen.

O’Donnell deliberately made sure her “highly curious” and sometimes “awkward” daughter felt no “shame” about being on the spectrum, seeing it instead 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 beginning that autism was her superpower,” the comedian wrote. “I hear her announce to strangers, ‘My name is Dakota.’ I am 9 and have allergies and autism.

“One time we were playing on the beach with a new family,” she recalls. “I told Dad under my breath, ‘She’s neurodivergent.’ Then Dakota turned around and said, ‘I have autism. It’s OK.'”

O’Donnell, who first disclosed Dakota’s diagnosis in a 2016 Blog Post, envisions her youngest child winning “Jeopardy!” one day, as “her ability to absorb information is second to none.”

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

The former Rosie O’Donnell Show host gushed: ‘The things she knows – about sea anemones and tide pools. I made it to 60 not knowing about the Mariana Trench. Now I know all about it!’

O’Donnell adopted Dakota in 2013 while he was married to Michelle Rounds, who died by suicide four years later. She shares her oldest four children with ex-wife Kelly Carpenter.

Vivienne called her mother via TikTok in August about his lack of a “normal” upbringing, and O’Donnell jokingly clapped back with video from her own.

“I’m totally normal,” the “SMILF” alum quipped last month. “God, Viv. I’ll tell you some secrets!’


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