Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Never What You Expect

You can't plan for things like this. You don't get pregnant and count on having a special needs child. It's an unexpected turn of events that you have to change your whole life for. We were taken aback with Jordan's diagnosis at 30 months, and weren't quite sure what to do. But with the help of my mother, who has been and continues to be a wonderful resource and the staff at The Kennedy Donovan Center, we got Jordan hooked up with Children Making Strides and into Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) which helped her tremendously in preparing for preschool.

But getting back on point, everything changes when you discover that your has a delay. I recently reconnected with an old friend, who sent me the following poem. It more than aptly describes everything that my family is going through in living with Jordan's Autism:

Welcome to Holland

Written 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 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 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 some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. 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."

The pain of that will never, 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. 


You can find poems like the one above, as well as many other helpful resources on autism, at this website:

If you think your child may need Early Intervention services, and you live in Southeastern Mass, please contact The Kennedy-Donovan Center:

For ABA services and beyond, visit Children Making Strides

And what better way to end a post, than with a smile!

1 comment:

  1. As always, inspirational Audra! You are a blessing to others.