Welcome To Holland...

By Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy."

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around… and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills… and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things… about Holland.

© 1987 Emily Perl Kingsley

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2 thoughts on “Untitled

  • Ash says:

    From Finally!!!, originally posted on March 22, 2005:

    Morgan, was diagnosed with autism in June 2004. I had an inkling that Morgan’s developmental problems could possibly be autism, but hoped it wasn’t. Pookey, on the other hand, thought he was just severely hyperactive, and so the diagnoses hit him a lot harder.

    Though, after much thought (with more logic and a lot less emotion), about it all, we have both come to the realization that he is still the same boy we know and love, and that things could be far worse than what they currently are. Thankfully, he was spared the other medical problems that are so common in children with autism. Morgan is a very intelligent little boy, and any obstacles he encounters can definitely be overcome.

    Don’t get me wrong… We still grieve that Morgan has autism and that he’ll have to work harder to achieve things that come easily to other children, but none of our goals/hopes (college, independence, etc.) for him have really changed; just the way we have to go about making them happen.

  • Destrie says:

    Glad I’ve finlaly found something I agree with!