I have only been teaching in Special Ed for 5 years, and despite the difficulties, it is the only field that I want to teach in. That said, I have found that 1. the paper work is overwhelming at times but doable, 2. teaching grade-level standards and material to students functioning 3+ years below grade-level is ridiculous but if modified enough - again - doable, 3. administration can be condescending, slow on the uptake, and completely lacking in understanding for the battles that we face in the classroom (the trick is to smile, nod your head, and let it flow out the other ear), 4. most parents care about their children but aren't sure how to work with them, 5. you don't have to deal too much with those parents who don't care because they never come in for meetings anyway, 6. Teachers in the gen ed classrooms really don't understand exactly what we do that is so difficult, but they definitely don't want our job. 7. Mainstreaming/inclusion are the new '4 letter words'. 8. Students in our rooms are indeed labeled as Mr/Mrs ___________'s kids. (that's ok by me, I will claim them all.) Actually, I overheard one teacher refer to them this way, "Oh God, do we have to include Mrs. W's brats?" My students have fewer behavioral issues that most of their students. 9. "MY" children are the sweetest, most wonderful children in the world. This includes the ED, LD, ADD, ADHD, OCD, OHI, ODD, MR, borderline MR, and the OOSWR (out of sinc with reality). There are difficulties in any field that you get into, special ed is not unique in that area, but this is one field where people who love children are desperately needed. We are their parent, nurse, best friend, counselor, giver of hugs,sharer of smiles, teacher, and ... For many of them, we are the only friendly face they might see all day. Be afraid, be nervous, be whatever...but don't let the fear stop you from teaching this wonderful segment of the school population. THey are the best. Don't look for praise outside your classroom, most of the time you won't find it. But your students smiles, hugs, pictures, and academic/social growth will be a true measure of your effectiveness and caring. Enjoy.