The former “The View” co-host penned a touching essay about how her child taught her “compassion much deeper” than she ever knew.
Rosie O'Donnell is opening up about her youngest daughter in an emotional essay. The comedian is mom to Parker, 27, Chelsea, 25, Blake, 22, Vivienne, 19, and Dakota, 9. According to Page Six, O’Donnell adopted her youngest back in 2013 while she was married to Michelle Rounds. Rounds tragically died by suicide four years later.
When O'Donnell learned that her daughter had autism she confessed that it wasn't easy. She had concerns when she first learned about her daughter's diagnosis at age 2. "I was worried about how she would make it in this world," the 60-year-old explained to PEOPLE. "I worried about my longevity because as you speak to parents of kids with autism, their main worry is what happens when they die. Who's going to love their child and understand them the way you do?"
But raising her young daughter opened her mind to a whole new world. "With Dakota, I am learning to have compassion much deeper than I ever did," she said. "To really listen and communicate in a way I never had to with my other kids. I know there are people struggling and they don't know how they will get through another day. And I understand. But the sense of vulnerability that comes with having a kid with autism has been a gift to me. She teaches me."
In her own words, the television personality writes that she always knew something was different about her “quirky” youngest daughter. "She was always highly verbal. Sometimes she would stare off in a way that she felt unreachable for a moment. She had a little bit of stimming [a repetitive behavior often associated with autism] she was doing with her hands. She has always been very cuddly — and loves to curl up beside me on the couch. I thought she was quirky — and beautiful and perfect," she shared.
When her diagnosis was revealed it felt like “a punch in the stomach” but now the Daytime Emmy winner sees it as an “angel fell into [her] life.” O’Donnell is determined to make sure her daughter does not feel shame about her diagnosis. “I have told her from the start that autism is her superpower,” the comedian wrote. “I hear her announcing to strangers, ‘My name is Dakota. I’m 9, and I have allergies and autism.’"
The former Rosie O’Donnell Show host continued, "Dakota's autism forces me to see the world from a completely different place. She's a gift from another dimension. The things she knows — about sea anemones and tide pools. I got to 60 not knowing about the Mariana Trench. Now I know all about it! Her ability to absorb information is unparalleled. I can imagine her winning Jeopardy! someday. She teaches me. To be able to see the world as she does — for me, it's been a wonderfully magical experience. I'm so glad we have each other."
Cover Image Source: Instagram | rosie