Rosie O’Donnell has defended questioning if Barron Trump is autistic by explaining that her own daughter has the condition and that she recognizes the signs.
The comedian penned an emotional message to fans on her website on Saturday after sparking fury among Twitter followers earlier in the week when she shared a video which suggested the president-elect’s 10-year-old son is autistic.
Insisting that her post was ‘from the heart’, she said it had ‘nothing’ to do with her old foe Donald Trump.
‘I have no ill will for his children or any children,’ said O’Donnell, adding that her own daughter, three-year-old Dakota, was diagnosed with high functioning autism in September.
The row began on Monday when O’Donnell shared an anti-bullying video of Trump’s son. It speculated that he may be autistic based on the way he clapped during an appearance at the Democratic National Convention.
It was uploaded by YouTube user James Hunter under the title ‘Is Barron Trump Autistic? #StopTheBullying’ and has over 2million views since it was first shared on November 11.
Reposting the video, O’Donnell wrote: ‘Barron Trump autistic? If so – what an amazing opportunity to bring attention to the AUTISM epidemic.’
She was inundated by angry parents and social media users who described the post as ‘evil’. Many said it was a new low in her ongoing, public spat with Trump.
‘Rosie, as a parent of a child with autism – I am extremely insulted. This wasn’t meant to help raise awareness. Just plain cruel,’ said one.
‘I am the mom of an 11 yr old with ASD and I am in tears that Rosie did this!! Shame on her!!’
‘Is Rosie O’Donnell really going after Barron Trump? That’s low even for her. Attacking children bc you don’t like their parent (s) is wrong.
‘I think it’s disgusting and evil what Rosie O’Donnell said about Trump’s son. It’s one thing to attack a politician but it’s evil to attack their children,’ others fumed.
On Saturday, O’Donnell however said the post was well-wished and entirely independent of her political beliefs.
‘When I saw the anti bullying video that mentioned Barron, it spoke to the symptoms many ASD kids have. It was educational and informational.
‘This autism subject had nothing to do with Donald though i admit he does trigger me in all ways.
‘I have no ill will for his children or any children and if u knew anything about me u would know that (sic).’
In a separate tweet, she said: ‘I didn’t make the video, I watched it, and I found it compelling.
‘Not my movie clip. Lots of us, who raise autistic children, notice things many would miss. Somethings felt familiar.’
The video bases its assumption of Barron’s health on observations of his behavior throughout his father’s campaign.
The Trump family has never spoken on the matter. His representatives did not respond to requests for comment early on Sunday morning.
O’Donnell regularly shares photographs of her daughter on social media. Dakota was born in 2013 and is the comedian’s third child.
She and former wife Michelle Rounds adopted Dakota in 2013. The pair divorced in 2015.
In February, before her daughter was diagnosed with the condition, O’Donnell was slammed by autism groups for joking during a stand-up set that she would ‘trade in’ her teenagers for ‘autistic triplets’.
She previously wrote a book about her 16-year-old son Blake’s struggle with Auditory Processing Disorder which affects the ability to distinguish between sounds.
Trump and O’Donnell kicked off their bitter feud long before the November 8 election.
It began in 2006 when O’Donnell was a host on The View and continued for years.
Throughout his campaign for the White House, O’Donnell regularly took swipes at the president-elect.
The 70-year-old has labelled her a ‘fat pig’, ‘slob’ and ‘total degenerate’ over the years and even brought her up in the presidential debates.
When Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton accused Trump of sexism during the debate at Hofstra University, New York, he took the opportunity to take another jab at O’Donnell.
‘This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs,’ Clinton said.
Clinton did not mention O’Donnell but Trump responded using her name, implying she was the only woman he’d ever verbally attacked.
‘Somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell – I said very tough things to her. And I think everybody would agree that she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her,’ Trump said.
O’Donnell hit back at Trump after the debate calling him an ‘orange anus’.
At the time O’Donnell responded via Twitter saying ‘he will never be President’ before tweeting a link to a clip from The View in 2006 that shows her mocking Trump, a TV moment that is believed to be the origin of their feud.
‘The 5 mins orange anus can’t seem to get over – tell the truth – shame the donald [sic],’ she wrote alongside it.