That Went Well

Subject Bio

Irene, age ten

Terrell Dougan became active in advocating for the mentally disabled when she was twelve. Her sister Irene, then six, had just been diagnosed as mentally disabled as a result of a birth injury. Terrell's father started the first Salt Lake County Association for Retarded Children, which rented an abandoned building to create the first day care center, and Terrell remembers helping sweep it out and wash its windows. From then on, she watched her father as he and many other parents organized and created more and more services for their mentally disabled children.

In 1968, she became president of the Utah Association for Retarded Children (now the Arc of Utah), following her father's footsteps. By 1972 she was invited to be on the board of directors of the National Association for Retarded Citizens (now the Arc of the United States). She wrote the first grant for community group homes in Utah, and was instrumental in starting the first sheltered workshop in Salt Lake City. As a result of her advocacy, Governor Scott Matheson of Utah invited her to assist him in community relations in 1980.

Her sister Irene lived at home until she was eighteen, and then spent five years at the Devereux School in Goleta, California. After that, Irene came home to take advantage of the new community services springing up in Utah. After several years in the group homes and supervised apartments, she moved on to a private program run by Terrell with hired companions in various rented apartments and homes. The adventures they had together trying to make Irene's life work in the community is the subject of That Went Well. Terrell uses her skills as a humor writer in lightening up a potentially tragic subject, sharing the joys as well as the frustrations known by every sibling of someone with special needs.

The book is dedicated to all siblings everywhere, but is aimed at anyone who knows someone with special needs. The book is a sometimes excruciatingly honest account of how one family coped with this condition, and the ripple effect it has on one's friends and other family members. There are some tragic times in the book; but they are outweighed in great measure by the hilarious ways Irene wins, and the joys that little triumphs bring.