Donna Thomson – Caring for an Adult Son with Cerebral Palsy & Other Life-Threatening Conditions

In 1988, Donna Thomson’s life was forever changed by the birth of her first child Nicholas, who has cerebral palsy and a myriad of other life-threatening conditions including epilepsy, severe sleep apnea and chronic pain. A former actor, director, and teacher, Donna became her son’s primary caregiver and embarked on a second career as a disability activist, author and caregiver coach.

Donna is the co-author (with Dr. Zachary White) of The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation of Loved One to Caregiver (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) and author of The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I’ve Learned From a Life of Caregiving (McArthur and Co., 2010 and The House of Anansi Press, 2014). She blogs regularly at her website, The Caregivers’ Living Room (

Donna has always been full of curiosity and optimism in her determined exploration of better ways to support caring families. Her research has led her to write about resources such the Asset Based Community Development movement, the Atlas of Caregiving tools for mapping care eco-systems and the multitude of online care coordination tools such as Lotsa Helping Hands and Caring Bridge that enable caregivers to leverage the practical help of family members and friends.

As a teenager, Donna helped care for her father who suffered three debilitating strokes, then later for her mother who had dementia and died in 2018 at the grand old age of 96. Caregiving has been and continues to be her life’s purpose.

When she’s not writing and reading about caregiving, Donna loves to cook for friends and family, dance and whenever possible and meditate in the wilderness, either in Quebec or in Cat Island, Bahamas.