Many years ago I wrote a letter to the editor about my daughter Teale. I was worn, she was in a rough stage and my family was doing their best to get through the crisis. Her behavior was more explosive than usual and her sleep was off too. We were barely keeping our heads above water and desperately needed a break. Our being in public with her was a double edged sword, often getting her out of our house was helpful, but it was also very risky. We not only try to protect Teale from the cruelness we may encounter in public, but we also try to protect Beau, Gwenn and ourselves too. Then there are my personal feelings about not wanting friends, family and the public to have to deal with the Hell we deal with on a regular basis. There are many feelings I have when it comes to raising Teale in this world. I often want to protect her and protect my family from the cruel comments we have encountered when we are in the community with her. Staying home can be easier because no one else sees what we live. At home, no one sees the embarrassing moments, the huge rages, the rude behavior. I believe dealing with other people's feelings is probably my biggest challenge. At this point, I'm pretty confident in my role as Teale's Mom. My skin has gotten thicker with all we've lived. But that is NOT the only thing that has happened to me. I'm not just damaged from being Teale's Mom, I'm also improved. I believe I have learned to love deeper, I believe I have learned strength and resilience, among many other positive qualities. I know I laugh much and what might bring another person to their knees, just makes me stand taller. I believe I truly appreciate the little things more than I did before Teale. But the thing that stands out far above the rest, are the friends we have made along the way. We have had so many people put in our lives who we would not have had any reason to meet without Teale being in our family. I think about the teachers, therapists, doctors and families of other special needs people. Many of these people are such integrated parts of my heart now, I could never imagine life without them in it. I think we have taught much about special needs by our just living a normal life with Teale. By our not letting the risks of "what could go wrong" ruin our trying. Sure we have been burned many times. There have been several events that we knew before we went, that we should not put ourselves in the situation. We've also been wrong, we've gone somewhere with confidence or with fear and she has surprised us in a good or a bad way. Unfortunately our generation is still getting used to the special needs population being a participating part of society. I believe it will get easier for families like ours eventually. I believe because we refuse to keep our special families in isolation, like past generations did, complete acceptance will someday happen. For the families who are challenging this change. For the people who accept, love and respect my daughter and all people, I too have a dream, much like a great man who knew segregation was wrong.