Season 4
O Donnell Family
O Donnell Family
Season 4 | Episode 415 | Aired 02/17/2007

The story of Patrick and Jeanette O'Donnell, the parents of six children, is a rare and heartbreaking one. Five out of their six children have been diagnosed with and suffer from multiple forms of autism that range from simple communication limitations to severe physical and social problems. The O'Donnell family's case is exceedingly rare, as national autism experts have not recorded a single other family in the United States with five autistic children. Classic autistics have problems talking, relating to people and playing. They can be hypersensitive to their environment and react strongly to certain sounds, colors and textures. Caitlin, the oldest at 15, and Kiernan, their youngest at 5, have the most severe form called classic autism, and are expected to live with their family their whole lives.

Furthermore, supporting the family keeps Patrick away from home most of the time, as he balances two jobs to make ends meet, working by day at a mail distribution center and by night as an umpire for softball games for the city of Austin. With a salary barely adequate for a special needs family of eight, the O'Donnells are struggling, to say the least.

With thirty days left until foreclosure on their home and worries about losing their children to the state if their home isn't deemed to be a safe and secure environment, the O'Donnells are desperate for a new home that is specifically suited to each of their children's very different sensory needs.

In this episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the family will finally get the needed security, serenity and sensory design to help their children develop their own sense of expression and purpose. In addition, Country Music star Trace Adkins performs at a benefit for the family.

While the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition design team, local builders Jimmy Jacobs Custom Homes of Georgetown, Texas, contractors and hundreds of workers and volunteers are building a dream house for the family in a remarkable seven days, the family will go on vacation to Adaptive Sports Center at Crested Butte Ski Resort in Colorado.


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