After 25 years of institutional care, East Bay woman finds a new life

Terri Wilson celebrated her 54th birthday earlier this year, though her 86-year-old father, Ed Wilson, still feels he needs to make sure she’s in a place where she’s being fed, dressed, and kept healthy and safe.

That’s because Terri was born with a developmental disability. She’s never learned to speak more than a few words, and it’s not always clear to Ed or to anyone else what she comprehends of the world around her.

“With Terri, at almost 55, I’ve never been able to figure her out,” laughs Ed, a retired UC Berkeley professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Through her early teen years, Terri threw fierce tantrums and broke windows at the family’s El Cerrito home. She wandered off and headed into traffic, actions that made her father and her late mother realize she needed round-the-clock professional care for the rest of her life.

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