Rosie O'Donnell Facing Backlash After Making Autism Joke
Comedian Rosie O’Donnell is facing backlash form a recent joke she made involving autism.
On Sunday, February 7, at Caroline’s Comedy Club in New York City, O’Donnell joked she’d rather have “autistic triplets” than each of her teenage children, the New York Daily News reported.
“I had four teenagers when I decided to adopt a newborn baby. You might ask why,” O’Donnell said. “I needed to remind myself that I actually do love children, because I would trade each teen for autistic triplets. I’m just saying I would.”
O’Donnell, who has fought publicly with her estranged 18-year-old daughter Chelsea O’Donnell, pointed out that she has children on the spectrum herself and then went on to speak about the difficulties of raising teenagers.
Social media users responded to the news of O’Donnell’s joke on Twitter, some defending the comedian, who has raised money for autism charities before, and others criticizing the comedian. O’Donnell responded to one Twitter user who took offense to a child with autism being used for “the punchline of a joke.” O’Donnell responded, saying, “I am the punch line — not your kids.” She later added, “Our kids — mine too. The spectrum is vast.”
— Rosie (@Rosie) February 9, 2016
A representative from the National Autism Association spoke harshly of O’Donnell to TMZ, saying the comedian has crossed a line for the sake of a “desperate, low-blow joke.”
In response to the criticism she’s received online and from autism advocates, O’Donnell accepted fault for the joke and said it was never her intention to offend.
“Although it was not my intent to hurt people, I realize I did. It was my fault.” O’Donnell told TMZ. “I have two children with spectrum disorders. I’m aware of the challenges and stigma associated with autism.”