Terrell Dougan is a Utah based author who has just released a poignant memoir That Went Well. The book explains some of the trials and tribulations that a family must cope with when dealing with a special needs sibling. Even with the best support system the weight on any families shoulders is huge when having to cope with this situation. While this is a very serious subject for any family Terrell approaches the subject with good humor and humility. This can be seen in the opening line line of the book:

It’s Christmastime, and in a bright supermarket, with “Joy to the World” spilling out of the speaker, I am ducking a flying packaged chicken that is sailing past my head, thrown at me by my furious sister.

I mean, who can resist a line like that!

Terrell kindly agreed to be my guest on Blog Talk Radio. Coping with a special needs sibling is undoubtedly a stressful situation. One of the first questions I had for Terrell was why she had bared her soul and penned That Went Well. Her answer was that for far too long the plight of Special Needs people and their supportive families have been ignored. A subject that most people prefer to ignore or turn their heads away from. That Went Well is an attempt to bring the story into the lime light.

This is not a lady to be trifled with, right off the bat she put me in my place. I was pronouncing her name incorrectly, I was putting an inflection on the last syllable. Of course as soon as we got on the air, I forgot the correct pronunciation, but I think she forgave me. Sometimes having an English accent pays off. She also corrected me on how to say the title of her book, I was saying ‘that went well’, the correct way is ‘THAT went well’. In other words, that did not go well at all.

In my opinion there are few people more qualified than Terrell to explain the issues. My mother always told me that it was impolite to inquire about a ladies age, and I have refrained from asking for many years. While I quite frankly do not believe my wife when she says she is only 25, well she has a son who turns 26 in a couple of months! Anyway Terrell was quite happy to spill the beans, she is 69 years old, and by my reckoning that means she has six decades of experience in this subject. I would say that based on that fact, this lady is an expert.

Terrell has also been very active in the community and political arena’s bringing the subject of Special Needs into the open. One of the more creative projects that she embarked on was that of lobbyist, or activist. When I think of lobbyist, I think of overpaid Washington types wining and dining politicians in an act that is nothing short of bribery to obtain backing for some piece of legislation. This lady took a different route, if a politician or government official did something good she would get all of her friends to write ‘thank you’ letters! No graft, just an appreciation of a job well done. The technique worked! It is amazing, sometimes the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

Societies attitudes have changed since the 1960’s, as indeed has the legislation concerning the support of special needs people. While Terrell might say I am exaggerating, she is one of the reasons for those changes. Her efforts over the years have contributed much to the welfare of people today, and in the future.

You can listen to the entire interview here. And you can purchase her book That Went Well from Amazon. There is also a web site to support the book (tell her I sent you).

Simon Barrett


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