As a mother, I will never give up on my child. As a mother of a child who has autism, I will never give up hope.
I look into his eyes and I see all the potential that he has to offer to this beautiful world and I just know that one day the world can see what I see.

Follow my blog as I share my life and my experiences as a person who loves someone with autism.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Welcome to Holland. #ILoveSomeoneWithAutism

“Welcome to Holland” is an essay, written in 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley, about having a child with a disability. The piece is given by many organizations to new parents of children with special-needs.

The essay, written in the second person, employs a metaphor of excitement for a vacation to Italy that becomes a disappointment when the plane lands instead in 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.”

The metaphor is that the trip to Italy is a typical birth and child-raising experience, and that the trip to Holland is the experiencing of having and raising a child with special-needs.

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.”

In the end, however, the reader sees that the “trip” is still well worth it:

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.

Here’s the essay:

Welcome to Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley

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 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... 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 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.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce

PS Special thanks to Jackie V. for sharing this with me.

3 comments:

  1. I got given this poem when I was making the appointments for JN's dx. I cried, and realized that 'Holland' was going to be ok....

    ReplyDelete
  2. I first read this when I was a teenager, shortly after my sister was born with Down Syndrome. Our family has been in Holland for quite a while now (21 years), and we're always reminded what a great place it is to be.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have always loved this piece. I first heard it in my Special Education course when I was a brand new teacher. Now that I have been a parent for fifteen years, and a teacher for seventeen years, and am (at times)one of the first people that a parent may be in contact with as they are beginning to 'see' Holland for the first time, I am a lot more sensitive to parents' feelings. Any change in plans takes adjustment time and can often leave one feeling unprepared. This analogy explains it so well. Thank you for posting it.

    ReplyDelete

Please feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.