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Our beloved daughter Caressa was born with profound retardation. She is one of the most helpless and vulnerable citizens there are. Only the smallest minority of all people with mental retardation have the severity of problems that she has. Yet she is a human being with personality and characteristics all her own, and her life is very important to us. In general, our society does not understand people like Caressa. This is probably partly due to the fact that they don't know any people like her. They are missing out on knowing some very special people. Perhaps we, as parents of an adult like Caressa, whether living at home or not, should help others know our adult child.

For years, I’ve searched on the net without success for stories about people like Caressa, living at home as an adult, cherished and enjoyed. I have decided to share her personality, and candid day to day experiences at home.


I stand beside Caressa’s bed on a snowy Thanksgiving evening. Her room is large, with big windows, bright curtains, and colorful toys. I am tube-feeding her, singing her an evening lullaby. Suddenly she lunges to sit up and pull my hair, giggling. I move my long braid, trying to remember what age it is that normal babies do this. Then she stops laughing, and gently reaches one hand up to my mouth, knowing she'll get a kiss. My daughter is twenty-eight years old.  

Rosemary J. Gwaltney Nov. 28th. 2003