Karen Killilea

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Karen Ann Killilea (born August 18, 1940) is the subject of two bestselling books by her mother Marie Killilea, Karen and With Love from Karen. These books were groundbreaking by asserting that children with cerebral palsy could lead productive lives.

Karen Killilea was born three months prematurely at a time when such babies rarely survived. As a result of her prematurity, she developed cerebral palsy. After she was diagnosed, Karen's parents decided to raise her at home, contrary to the advice of doctors to commit her to an asylum and forget her.

After visiting at least 23 doctors, they found one in Baltimore, Maryland, who taught them to do physical therapy with Karen at home (then a radical concept). They did so, spending two hours daily on her therapy for more than 10 years. Karen learned to walk with crutches, write, swim, and use her arms and legs.

She developed into a fairly happy teenager and adult who has been living independently and working for decades. Karen currently lives in New Rochelle, New York, and works as a receptionist at a retreat house for priests run by Catholic monks.[1] Now in her seventies, she zealously guards her privacy and has always declined all requests for interviews.[citation needed]

Books about her[edit]

  • Karen, Killilea, Marie (1952/1999) New York: Buccaneer Books (ISBN 1-56849-098-4).
  • With Love From Karen, Killilea, Marie (1963) New York: Buccaneer Books (ISBN 1-56849-099-2).
  • Wren, Killilea, Marie (Marie Lyons) (1954) New York: Dodd, Mead (the 1968 date given on Amazon is a reprint), (ISBN 0-440-49704-3).


  1. ^ "Karen Killilea and the Killilea Family". UCP News Archive. July 2006. Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 5 June 2010.