Change of Plans — Having a child with a Disability

February 25, 2009 at 5:34 PM 5 comments

A National Lekotek leader named Peggy McWilliams shared with me a poem she read at the memorial services of one of the children she worked with. It was written by the mother of a child with disabilities. It was the author’s goal to help others to imagine what it would be like to have a child with disabilities of your own, and to shed a light of understanding on the uniqueness of that situation.  Some of you may have seen this before, but even then, it’s worth repeating.

Welcome to Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley

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 guidebooks 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 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 go out and buy new guidebooks. 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, and 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.” The pain of that will never 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 will never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things about Holland.


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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. chatterbox  |  February 25, 2009 at 10:26 PM

    I love welcome to Holland!!! EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS!

  • 2. Elree Langford  |  April 27, 2009 at 9:01 PM

    I’ve been to Italy and I’ve been to Holland. (we have a typical developing daughter and a daughter with Down Syndrom). They are boh adults. Sometimes Italy is a much greater challenge. Each bring their particular joys and heartaches but I am so blessed that I was able to go to Holland. It is such a very special place and I still marvel at it’s beauty.

  • 3. Anonymous  |  May 7, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Reading this truly changed my life. Helped me with my perspective and to finally relate. A dear friend showed it to me. I cried of course and immidiately thought YES!! That is it… EXACTLY how I feel. I am a first time mom with a 2 year old who is being tested for autism and it has been the most challenging yet rewarding 2 years of my life. PLEASE send this to a friend, family member, or loved one that is dealing with a similar situation. It is so hard and heartbreaking when you feel like no one understands. Reading this made me feel like someone does. thank you!

    • 4. AblePlay  |  May 7, 2012 at 7:48 PM

      Thank you for stopping by our AblePlay blog- this is a classic article that has a great message. Keep checking in on our blog because we are going to make it new and exciting. It will be all about play, toys, and FUN!

  • 5. Learn More  |  July 18, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    thnx for sharing your nice web site.


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February 2009


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