Rosie O’Donnell pens essay about daughter Dakota’s autism

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

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

“[I] really listen and communicate in a way I never had to 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 was “off” about her “quirky” youngest daughter.

“Sometimes she would stare off in a way that she felt unreachable for a moment,” she wrote of her “highly verbal” child.

“She had a little bit of stimming she was doing with her hands,” the actress, 60, continued, referencing a repetitive behavior commonly associated with developmental disorders.

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

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

O’Donnell is intentional about making sure that her “highly curious” and sometimes “awkward” daughter does not feel any “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 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.’

“We were once playing on the beach with a new family,” she recalled. “I said to the dad under my breath, ‘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, envisions her youngest child winning “Jeopardy!” one day, as “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 “Rosie O’Donnell Show” host gushed, “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!”

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

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

“I’m totally normal,” the “SMILF” alum sarcastically said last month. “Jeez, Viv. I’m gonna tell some secrets about you!”

Rosie O’Donnell pens essay about daughter Dakota’s autism

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