I have posted this before but I have several new readers now. This is a perfect poem to describe what it feels like in the special needs world.
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
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
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.
Welcome to Holland (Part 2)" by Anonymous
I have been in Holland for over a decade now. It has become home. I have had time to catch my breath,
to settle and adjust, to accept something different than I'd planned.
I reflect back on those years of past when I had first landed in Holland. I remember clearly my
shock, my fear, my anger—the pain and uncertainty. In those first few years, I tried to get back
to Italy as planned, but Holland was where I was to stay. Today, I can say how far I have come on this
unexpected journey. I have learned so much more. But, this too has been a journey of time.
I worked hard. I bought new guidebooks. I learned a new language and I slowly found my way around
this new land. I have met others whose plans had changed like mine, and who could share my experience.
We supported one another and some have become very special friends.
Some of these fellow travelers had been in Holland longer than I and were seasoned guides, assisting
me along the way. Many have encouraged me. Many have taught me to open my eyes to the wonder and gifts
to behold in this new land. I have discovered a community of caring. Holland wasn't so bad.
I think that Holland is used to wayward travelers like me and grew to become a land of hospitality,
reaching out to welcome, to assist and to support newcomers like me in this new land. Over the years,
I've wondered what life would have been like if I'd landed in Italy as planned. Would life have been
easier? Would it have been as rewarding? Would I have learned some of the important lessons I hold
Sure, this journey has been more challenging and at times I would (and still do) stomp my feet and
cry out in frustration and protest. And, yes, Holland is slower paced than Italy and less flashy than
Italy, but this too has been an unexpected gift. I have learned to slow down in ways too and look closer
at things, with a new appreciation for the remarkable beauty of Holland with its' tulips, windmills and
I have come to love Holland and call it Home.
I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn't matter where you land. What's more
important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely,
things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.
Yes, over a decade ago I landed in a place I hadn't planned. Yet I am thankful, for this destination
has been richer than I could have imagined!