Closeup of a teachers desk with books, paper and pen and a red apple in front of a chalkboard

We posed this question to the special education teachers in our Mighty community on Facebook: “What’s one secret about your job you wish the rest of the world knew?” Their answers were honest, heartfelt and gave us some real insight into what their jobs entail.

Here are just some of the “secrets” special education teachers want you to know:

1. “It is the best job in the world. You get to be part of people’s lives in a very important way. You will be changed forever.”

2. “My job isn’t ‘sad.’ Yes, although sometimes sad things happen when you educate children with complex special needs and medical fragility (such as seizures, illness or even a student passing away), my job isn’t ‘sad’ like many people often ask me. I find so much joy in my job! I get to form bonds with my students and their families in ways many other educators don’t get to experience, often over the course of many years. And I get to truly see them progress, no matter how small that progress may seem to the outside world.”

Teacher smiling at students that reads 'My job isn't 'sad.''

3. “Parents feel like they often have to fight the system to make sure their child gets what they deserve. We are on your side! We want what’s best for them, too.”

Two women looking at tablet and reads 'We are on your side! We want what's best for them, too.'

4. “Sometimes the hardest part is convincing the kids I work with that they are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for.”

5. “[My] job doesn’t end when the bell rings, or when the children leave the classroom or even on a holiday vacation.”

6. “We don’t do it for the rest of the world. We do it for the quiet moments [when] amazing things happen. We do it for the smiles, the gains, the tears… We do it for the parents and families of the children we work with, we do it for the trust these children give to us and we don’t ever breach that trust.”

Blurry kids that reads 'We don't do it for the rest of the world. We do it for the quiet moments [when] amazing things happen. We do it for the smiles, the gains, the tears… We do it for the parents and families of the children we work with, we do it for the trust these children give to us and we don't ever breach that trust.'

7. “I wish the world knew what an amazing job this is. I wake up every day with a smile ready to see my kiddos. I can’t imagine any other job that is as rewarding as this one!”

8. “I love my kids and would do anything for them, but if they are sick, please leave them at home. It’s not good for them or me to have a sick learner.”

9. “My students teach me more than I will ever teach them.”

Girl looking at tablet and reads 'My students teach me more than I will ever teach them.'

10. “Don’t tell too many people, but I have the best job and teacher could ask for. I get to develop lifelong relationships with my students and their families. And watching my students learn and grown is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.”

11. “I wish parents knew that we don’t always like the labels put on kids either. Your child is more than a diagnosis.”

Boy in girl laying in grass wearing sunglasses and reads 'we don't always like the labels put on kids either. Your child is more than a diagnosis.'

12. “We want the world for your child, just like you do. We wish we could provide all the services and supports you want for your child, but there are many things beyond our control. We do the best we can while fighting for what each student needs.”

Blurry man with head on chalkboard which reads 'We wish we could provide all the services and supports you want for your child, but there are many things beyond our control.'

13. “I don’t stop thinking about my students when they leave my class or school. I know I’ll look back in 10 or 20 years and still wonder about them, wishing I knew how they’re doing and that their lives have turned out happily.”

Woman looking up at chalkboard which reads 'I don't stop thinking about my students when they leave my class or school.'

14. “My kids in special education are as smart as yours in general education. It’s just that the world is set up to honor traditional ‘smart,’ not a creative, unique, incredible, unorthodox ‘smart.’”

Eraser side-up pencils and reads 'My kids in special education are as smart as yours in general education.'

15. “I have to say the job is exhausting. However, in saying that, I am proud to be exhausted. Because my exhaustion means the students I teach are closer to meeting their personal goals. They have spent the day forming bonds with their peers and learning valuable life skills. Together we have overcome many challenges and celebrated successes. It is the kind of exhausted you feel after a hard gym session, only much, much better.”

16. “I hate when people tell me I’m a saint for doing what I do. I do it because I love it. The kids are amazing.”

Teacher showing kids tablet and reads 'I hate when people tell me I'm a saint for doing what I do.'

17. “Sometimes choices are made for us about what and how we teach by people who are not in the schools or classrooms.”

18. “Every single student I have ever taught is ‘my child.’ I love them, I worry about them, I lose sleep over them. Their successes are my successes. Their struggles are my struggles.”

Woman helping child which reads 'Every single student I have ever taught is ‘my child.’ I love them, I worry about them, I lose sleep over them. Their successes are my successes. Their struggles are my struggles.'

19. “I wish everyone knew how much our students want to learn and how hard they try.”

20. “Listening to the voices of adults with disabilities has made me a much more compassionate, aware and thoughtful educator. I am so grateful in particular to autistic adults, as I primarily work with autistic young people. There’s always room for me to grow — I promise to keep listening.”

Blurry group of students at a table which reads 'Listening to the voices of adults with disabilities has made me a much more compassionate, aware and thoughtful educator.'

21. “Special education teachers don’t do the work for their students. They make the curriculum more accessible for their students or they give them work at their ability level.”

22. “Our students are just like any other child. They have incredible hearts and big personalities. They have extraordinary talents. They have good days and not so good days. Though they may have behavioral challenges, that does not mean they are ‘bad’ or ‘lazy.’ Though they may learn differently, they can learn. Don’t underestimate or pity them. And most importantly, don’t limit them.”

23. “The fulfillment I get from making a difference in a child’s life, even if just a small one, is the best feeling in the world! It makes all of the long days, nights [and] weekends full of lesson planning and paperwork worth it!”

24. “It fulfills my heart like nothing else could.”

Hands making a heart which reads 'It fulfills my heart like nothing else could.'

Editor’s note: Some answers have been shortened for brevity/clarity.

24 Secrets of Special Education Teachers


Do you know the feeling you can get when you run? The harsh pounding of the wind against your chest, your legs jolted by the bounce on the pavement, the endless expanse of clouds swallowing up every other thought in the world?  The feeling that nothing else exists? In that moment, nothing matters but the feeling of flight.

I’m not a runner by any means. In fact, I hate running. But I have run away from many things – emotions, feelings and circumstances that have made me feel uncomfortable. It was how I thought I was surviving fine, when really I was merely getting through. 

I’ve never run — or wanted to run in — a marathon, but I have been through a marathon of surgeries — 27 to be exact. Surgeons fondly call me a “surgical disaster” or compare my intestines to “a glob of boiled spaghetti.” These amazing surgeons ingeniously created a digestive system for me after organ failure and a gastrectomy my senior year of high school. 

Because there had never been a case like mine, there were no promises made. The day of my 21st birthday, I was able to try my first bite of food in three years after 13 surgeries — a frozen waffle, at my request. After being so grateful I could finally eat and drink again after three years of playing with empty water bottles, I could have never anticipated the 14 surgeries that would follow, each one an attempt to fix a wound that had ruptured or stitch that had burst loose. 

Every time I had a medical setback, doctors advised me to just “stop eating and drinking for now.” I was put back on IV’s, and suddenly I had to switch to “machine mode.” As the obedient patient, I did this for several years. It was an odd mix of staying numb, isolated and distracted, as well as crying with my mother and amazing support system. 


Being “numb” to my circumstances was probably the easiest way to deal with them. I didn’t have to think, feel or be aware of the reality I numbed myself through by locking myself in my room and typing for hours. When I became desperate to “feel,” I started cooking for my family as an attempt to experience the human sensations of hunger without actually feeding myself. I was hungry for food, for life and for the emotions that come with humanity – emotions which I had to temporarily put “on hold.” I either felt numb or painfully sad, and there didn’t seem to be an opportunity for any new feelings to grow.  If I wasn’t numb, then I’d start crying, getting anxious and tense — and immediately think back to my surgeries, to my life before surgery, and a hate for the path my life had taken. 

But part of feeling human is feeling angry. Part of feeling human is becoming frustrated at, worried and anxious about circumstances beyond our control. Part of feeling human is becoming overwhelmed with the agonizing question, “Why me?” as we shake our fist to the sky, wondering why life can be so unfair. 

In April 2011, I had just been told to stop eating and drinking, once again, in order to heal a fistula. Unfortunately, I knew this routine all too well because I had had several fistulas develop from previous surgeries. I tried to distract myself, numb myself and get from day to day as diligently as possible.

One morning, I woke up with such a fire in my gut, an anger that was so overwhelming that the energy frightened me. I didn’t know what to do with it and the emotions were too overpowering to try to numb them. My thoughts and feelings were threatening to swallow me whole.

With not a rational thought in my head, I ran out the door and just started running. I didn’t know where, for how long or why, but it was the adrenaline of panic — I felt “unsafe” in my situation and wanted to get as far away from it as I could. I had never felt an energy like this before, a red-hot high through my legs, tingling in my chest, tears caught in my eye-sockets that I hoped the wind bashing across my face might dry up. 

I kept running and running, as far away from my life as I could. I was too scared to kill myself, and I didn’t think I wanted to, either. I wanted a middle ground – just to exist in another world, and if I ran long enough, I’d get there, somehow, somewhere.

I ran for three hours before I found a highway, and without thinking, I started running onto the shoulder of the it. I thought, “The farther I go, the further this will all be behind me.” Of course, of all days I decide to run for my life, it starts to rain…and thunder. Suddenly, the highway was flooded, I was drenched and I had cars beeping at me, wondering what a frail little girl in a T-shirt was doing running on the shoulder of the highway.

It was only a matter of time before a police car pulled up to me and asked me to get inside. I was shaking, angry, confused, embarrassed and nervous — like I had just gotten my first detention in school. He said, “I’ve gotten about 30 calls in the past 20 minutes saying this 80-pound-girl is running on the shoulder of the highway. Where did you think you were going?”

I was upset that my escape had been halted, and suddenly very ashamed. Wiping away tears, I stammered, “To the mall.”

“You thought you could get to the mall on the shoulder of the highway?”


He turned around and looked at me for a brief pause and said, “I can drive you to the mall.”

I refused to look at him, pressed my elbows into my sides and barely whispered, “No, I’ll go home.”

He called my worried parents our way home, saying I was OK and we were on our way home. My mother, after recovering from her concerned rage, asked me what on Earth I thought I was doing. I told her simply that I was trying to escape. I didn’t want to deal with this anymore. I was frustrated with my body and I couldn’t take living under these circumstances for an “indefinite” amount of time. 

All she said was, “But you took your body with you.”

I knew that running on the shoulder of the highway is illegal and there are much easier ways to get to the mall. But what I really wanted was others to know I was having such a hard time — that even with my numbness, discipline and “indomitable” spirit, I needed support. I needed someone to realize I was suffering and talk to me, even if they couldn’t fix it for me. I needed someone to remind me why I should still love life. 

I didn’t want to kill myself because in my heart, I knew how much I adored life.  But I needed a break. I wanted life to get easier. I was sick of living in fear, wading in uncertainty and reflecting on a former life that I was never able to get back before my coma at the age of 18 — a time when life is supposed to open infinitesimal doors. 

Then I remembered times in my life that I was happy. I tried to remember what the circumstances were, what I was thinking, who was around me, what I was doing. And they were small moments. 

Then I realized, it wasn’t feeling “happy” I was chasing after, it was feeling “alive.” I remembered crying over my grandmother’s death and missing her delicate, wrinkly fingers tightly gripped around mine. I remembered waking up in the hospital after my coma and feeling sadness, but also a sense of wonderment, like I was rediscovering the world and seeing nature for the first time. Those were “life-shock” moments — moments infused with humanity, rather than the numb disconnected feeling of estrangement that now seemed to torment every second. They were moments I felt connected.


When I finally got home that rainy April day, I wanted to see how much I still cared. I also wanted to remember why I had fought so hard for so long to still be here, and why giving up at this point would cheat me out of any feelings of aliveness that may exist in my future. I had no proof that things would get better, but I did have a few solid things at that moment that I could stand on and anchor myself to, just to get me through. 

In that very moment:

I had my mother who was worried sick about me, and my whole family for that matter.

I had my body with a heart that was beating strongly, boldly, proudly and alive.

I had the rain on my skin and the feeling of being wet, of feeling sensations on this earth.

I had a single tear finally emerge from the numbness, from the anger, a tear that reminded me how much I really do love life, even though it may be hard right now.

I had hope. Even if for now it was just a silly lie I could tell myself.  It’s OK to make silly lies. It’s a creative start to cultivating hope.

I had life. Whatever it was, I had in my hands — a thing called “life.” An entity that was way too huge for me to make any final decisions about now.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

As soon as the first Valentine’s Day decorations go up in stores every year, grumblings about “Hallmark holiday” and “commercialism” often follow. But really, Valentine’s Day is just an opportunity to show the people in your life a little extra love. And the gifts that mean the most to them rarely require a trip to the mall. Sometimes your loved ones just need signs of your support and understanding, especially if they live with health issues.

Recently, we asked people in our Facebook communities who live with chronic illnesses for their ultimate Valentine’s Day gifts. This is what they divulged:

1. “I would love a pain-free day so I could really focus on my husband… He does all he can to take care of our two young girls and me and handles every new roadblock of my illness with caring and grace, but I would like a day where we could just be those two young kids that we used to be, without a care in the world.”

2. “A back rub, sleep and some light-up unicorn slippers. (If I’m always in PJs, they might as well be epic!)”


3. “To have the energy to spend the whole day with my kids and take them out without needing the following two days to recuperate.”

4. “Aside from having a fantastic, pain-and-symptom-free day, having someone to come over and have a chill Netflix night and chocolate would be most desirable.”

5. “I would love somebody, anybody besides my therapist to say: ‘I understand. How are you feeling? Can I do something to help you today?’ Kindness is what I want.”

6. “Twenty-four hours in a hotel suite. Jacuzzi, dinner in my room, sweet plush bed and glorious, uninterrupted sleep! And a killer massage.”

7. “For people to show compassion.”

8. “One full day without fatigue.”

9. “A maid. I know that sounds selfish, but I’m really struggling to keep up with chores, and I don’t really have any one to help. My husband tries, but after a long day at work, he’s pretty tapped out, too.”

10. “I would love to be able to plan something for Valentine’s Day and know I can follow through with the plan instead of canceling because it’s a hard day.”

11. “I would like my invisible illness (fibromyalgia) to go away and never come back.”

12. “A home-cooked meal and the kitchen clean and tidy to follow. That tells me someone really knows me and will make an effort to make me happy.”


13. “A day where everyone would believe our pain is real and we are not lazy.”

14. “A cure for chronic migraines!”

15. “Pain-relieving chocolate.”

16. “Just to get a hug, a nice meal and to sleep in. In that order.”

17. “I would like someone to take out my trash. And take the can to the road for pick-up. That would make my day.”

18. “To have a loved one who understands what you’re going through or reads up on your condition so they know how to help you the most.”

19. “A massage. A healing, soothing massage.”

20. “I want to enjoy my family without feeling terrible and eat what I want.”

21. “Just one day with no pain, plenty of energy, no anxiety, no sadness or tears, no nausea and no itching.”

22. “Acceptance.”

23. “I would like a card and chocolate or flowers from someone who cares.”

24. “I would like a day where my entire family understands what I am going through, [with] no judgment on their parts, and to just spend the day with me no matter how I am feeling.”

25. “I just need someone to show they care.”


What would you like for Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below.

Editor’s note: Some answers have been shortened for brevity/clarity.

The nation’s largest provider of intercity bus transportation has agreed to compensate people with disabilities discriminated against on its buses.

Greyhound Lines Inc. has agreed to implement a series of reforms to resolve allegations that it repeatedly violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, under the terms of a consent decree filed by the Justice Department on Monday, February 8.

Greyhound will pay $300,000 in compensation to specific passengers with disabilities identified by the Justice Department in addition to compensating additional passengers who have been discriminated against while using or attempting to use its bus service over the last three years. There is no cap on the number of passengers to be compensated or the total sum to be paid for compensation, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

The agreement still needs to be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, but it would resolve the department’s complaint that Greyhound engaged in a nationwide practice of violating the ADA by failing to provide full and equal transportation services to passengers with disabilities.

The alleged violations include failing to maintain accessibility features on its bus fleet such as lifts and securement devices, failing to provide passengers with disabilities assistance boarding and exiting buses at rest stops and failing to allow customers traveling in wheelchairs to complete their reservations online.

“The ADA guarantees people with disabilities equal access to transportation services so that they can travel freely and enjoy autonomy,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a press release. “Today’s agreement marks a major step toward fulfilling the promise of the ADA, and we applaud Greyhound for entering the consent decree.”

In addition, Greyhound, which serves more than 18 million passengers each year across North America, will also pay a civil penalty to the United States for the violations in the amount of $75,000.

The agreement also mandates Greyhound implement a series of reforms, including hiring an ADA Compliance Manager, requiring all employees and contractors who may interact with the public to attend annual in-person training on the ADA, providing technical training to all employees and contractors on the proper operation of accessibility features of Greyhound’s fleet and more.

“We recognize the importance of making travel easy and accessible for customers with disabilities, and we’re fully committed to ensuring that customers with disabilities have equal access to our services,” Lanesha Gipson, a spokeswoman for Greyhound Lines, said in a statement, according to Delaware Online. “We’ve made numerous improvements over the years to make travel as convenient and hassle-free as possible, and we will continue to make enhancements to our service that benefit customers who need extra assistance.”

Individuals who experienced disability-related discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound buses over the last three years may be eligible for monetary compensation from the company and should contact the claims administrator, which will be posted on the Greyhound website and at the Department of Justice’s Disability Rights Section after the consent decree is approved by the court.

It was around day 16 of my son’s 52-day stay at the children’s hospital. He was recovering from his congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) surgery. CDH is a life-threatening birth defect that occurs in one in 2,000 to one in 5,000 live births. It is a condition that occurs during pregnancy when a hole in the diaphragm allows abdominal organs to move into the chest and restrict lung growth. As a result, it can cause problems with the heart and digestive system.

It was a dark time in the NICU for me. Although my son’s case was no longer grave, my emotions were starting to get the best of me. I had compartmentalized the first 14 days after delivery, the first sight of him with tubes in and out of every orifice in his body, finding out he had a severe infection and clot in his heart, surgery day, Hurricane Irene and just being a first-time dad. Two days earlier, we had the euphoric moment of holding him for the first time abruptly interrupted when the monitors of his pod mate and fellow CDH baby went to all zeros, and a team of 20 to 30 doctors and nurses rushed to his bedside. We were kindly asked to leave to allow for the privacy of the other family.

The NICU is an open wound; the curtains don’t hide the trauma that goes on in each pod. Yes, babies go home every day. The celebration lasts for about a minute as the baby is paraded up and down the hallway, with nurses and doctors joyfully remembering that child’s journey. The other parents look on — not with jealousy or resentment, just the hope that they will get to take that walk one day soon. But then the security door closes, the elevator pings faintly in the distance and the family heads down to the main floor and out into their new world. The NICU sighs for a moment, then comes back to life. Monitors beep because medication needs to be changed out, alarm bells ring and the teams head in again.

Some days you return to the NICU from lunch and the cleaning crew in the pod next to you is mopping the floor, and the isolette is empty. You’d ask the nurse if the child was moved to another area, but their reaction doesn’t warrant an answer. Many people try to understand what’s it’s like to be a NICU parent, but you can’t explain to them how your life changes when you hear the cry of a mother who has just lost their child. So it was that kind of day for me. I had been asked to leave, and I removed myself to a quiet, parents-only waiting area. It was late at night; the regular visiting hours were over. Although my wife had recently begun attending the parents’ support group, I had refused to go. I didn’t need it. I had it all under control. So I thought. Until I hit that waiting area, and my legs started to give out from under me.

The hallway, although just 10 yards from the nearest couch, looked a million miles away. I hit the soft leather and the emotion poured out. Not just the 16 days in the past, but the past year, the uncertainty of the pregnancy, the CDH diagnosis, the thought of having to return to work on Monday. My wife found me a mess and immediately thought something had happened to our son, Owen. I explained what happened with our pod mate. We sat in that area holding each other and just quietly sobbing and praying. All of the support staff had gone home; just doctors and nurses remained. They walked by but didn’t intervene. They saw this daily and knew to give just a quick smile. They understood.

As we left the NICU that evening, my wife pointed to a sign posted next to the elevator door. On it was a date and time for a dads-only support group. I looked at her, and before I could protest, she said, “You’re going. They might have strategies to make Owen more comfortable.” So that Wednesday night, I reluctantly went to the room where the dads’ group was being held. A woman introduced herself as Lizzie and asked if I was there for the dads’ group. I, in my most sarcastic and unwilling voice, told her I wasn’t sure. In her bubbly and optimistic tone, she told me I could sit out there all night, or I could come in and just listen and enjoy some of the snacks that a great deli had provided. I went in.

During that meeting I learned a lot about NICU life. Then a guest speaker arrived. It wasn’t so much his large stature that occupied the room but just his presence. He walked in and introduced himself as Ranford to the dads in attendance. And then he asked us to tell our stories. Both of us did. He thanked us for sharing, then he proceeded to tell his own. He was the father of two preemies, a boy and a girl. Like many preemies, they rode the roller coaster of medical conditions. Just a few days before they were to come home, with both of them thriving, they received a call from the hospital stating their son’s condition had become grave and they needed to get to the hospital right away because doctors weren’t sure how much longer they could keep him alive. When they arrived at the hospital, the doctors explained to them that they could try many invasive procedures to save their son, but the odds were stacked against him. So that night, with their daughter set to come home in just a few short days, they held their boy until he passed away. This large man stood before us and cried for his son.

But then he said something that I will never forget. He said, “After your journey in the NICU ends, once the post-traumatic stress has passed and you’re ready, keep the dads’ group alive. Whether it’s through coming back to the hospital or sharing your story online, help another dad cope with their own emotions.”

So today, I move on. Although I will never forget, the nightmares are fading. The constant ringing and beeping of monitors is passing. Now I get to control what I remember. And as my wife told me, you can choose to focus on the negative or the positive — it’s up to me, and no one can tell me what to feel. As I entered the hospital again on Tuesday for another surgery for Owen, there was no panic. Now returning to the scene, I felt safe, almost at home. As we were leaving that day, the NICU was buzzing with new cases and new babies. But what I saw were new dads with that look in their eyes — the one only a NICU dad can really understand.

This story is for them.

You may never feel comfortable asking. You may never think anyone understands. But know that it’s OK to feel, it’s OK to hurt and it’s OK, in your own way and at your own time, to allow the emotions to fly. I hope if you read this, you find comfort.

Dad holding son in the hospital

I dedicate this story to my son Owen and wife, Maria, whose strength and resilience amazes me every day. They inspire me to be a better dad and better man and to try to help those who walk in my shoes. To Lizzie and Ranford, two angels I hoped I would never have to meet, I am a better person because I did. It’s time, and I am ready to accept the responsibility. And to Papas of Preemies, where a version of this story first appeared, for giving me the platform to educate people on CDH.

Follow this journey on Seeing Owen.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

I was very resistant to the idea of going to a special needs support group. We felt we had plenty of reasons not to go. We don’t think of ourselves as a special needs family. And we were managing just fine. I thought a special needs support group was somewhere you go because you’re seeking help. Boy, was I wrong.

Here’s what I learned from going to a special needs support group, and why I think you, too, should try going at least once.

1. Everyone is just like you. 

Some days, having a child with a condition that necessitates greater-than-average medical care can feel isolating. You feel like you’re the only one trudging from appointment to appointment, lugging your binders and being hit with off-the-wall medical terms. Guess what — you’re not the only one. Every parent or caregiver had a child with a diagnosis or a child for whom they were struggling to find a diagnosis. These people got it. These people knew what it was like. There is comfort in solidarity.

2. Everyone is also different.  

People talked about feeding tubes and seizures and caring for nonverbal kids. I couldn’t identify with any of those things. But that was the point. I didn’t have to or need to. Each family has their own “hard.” As we all went around the room giving a short summary of our kids and their needs, we were all likely thinking the same thing: “Oh, I could never manage that.” But all we have to do is work with what’s in front of us.

3. Laughter is the best medicine. 

Some of the things we laughed at were funny, some were darker. But that laughter with those families was a shared communion and a reminder: No matter how complicated life gets, you can always laugh.

4. Tears heal. 

When I walked into the room, I noticed coffee, brownies and a box of tissues. One of those things seemed out of place. But even an airline pilot doesn’t travel as much as that box of tissues did. I think it circled the room twice. Sometimes the hurt and the heartache and the fear gets buried down deep. This was a safe place to lay down some of it.

5. Free child care. 

The local church where I attended special needs group had childcare for children with special needs and their siblings. Need I say more?

girl riding wheelchair in the woods
Jessica’s daughter.

Follow this journey on In Pursuit of Living Loud.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines. 

Real People. Real Stories.

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We face disability, disease and mental illness together.