Welcome to Holland


New Member
My niece has a 7 mo old baby that has some serious heart problems. A friend of hers gave her this story. I thought I'd pass it along to all of you.

Welcome to Holland

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

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 Micaelangelo 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 much 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 mouorning 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.

I thought you might enjoy this. Have a wonderful day in Holland!!


Well-Known Member
A great read. We do have this in the archives for just that reason. It is a good reminder to appreciate our difficult children - even with their differences.


New Member
When my daughter read it to me, I was in tears. All I could think of was my difficult child 3. I am in denial that I chose to raise them - I still maintain that I didn't choose, there wasn't any other choice as far as we could see. Adoption and foster care wasn't in husband's vocabulary. We were the last on a long list of family. No one wanted them. I didn't want to be in Holland with difficult child 3. With all my heart I want to be in Tahiti with husband. I am trying desperately to see the tulips in difficult child 3. I can't say it is helping me cope, but when I am most frustrated and ready to pack my bags, it is a reminder to look through different eyes at who she is and where she is going. This is her life and if I want to be a part of it, I guess I'd better catch the train before I miss it all.


Active Member
One poster in the other thread mentioned that the trip to a different destination, can not be compared to simply a different locale, but a trip to "Hades."
For me, it's all been a difficult, learning experience.

One of our new parents mentioned on one of the other boards she felt like she landed in Beruit instead of Holland. :smile: Personally Holland Schmolland is more my style.

Holland Schmolland
by Laura Kreuger Crawford

If you have a special needs child, which I do, and if you troll the Internet for information, which I have done, you will come across a certain inspirational analogy. It goes like this:

Imagine that you are planning a trip to Italy. You read all the latest travel books, you consult with friends about what to pack, and you develop an elaborate itinerary for your glorious trip. The day arrives.

You board the plane and settle in with your in-flight magazine, dreaming of trattorias, gondola rides, and gelato. However when the plane lands you discover, much to your surprise, you are not in Italy -- you are in Holland. You are greatly dismayed at this abrupt and unexpected change in plans.

You rant and rave to the travel agency, but it does no good. You are stuck. After awhile, you tire of fighting and begin to look at what Holland has to offer. You notice the beautiful tulips, the kindly people in the wooden shoes, the french fries with mayonnaise, and you think, "This isn't exactly what I had planned, but it's not so bad. It's just different."

Having a child with special needs is supposed to be like this -- not any worse than having a typical child -- just different.

When I read this my son was almost 3, completely non-verbal and was hitting me over 100 times a day. While I appreciated the intention of the story, I couldn't help but think, "Are they kidding? We're not in some peaceful country dotted with windmills. We are in a country under siege -- dodging bombs, boarding overloaded helicopters, bribing officials -- all the while thinking, "What happened to our beautiful life?"

That was five years ago.

My son is now 8 and though we have come to accept that he will always have autism, we no longer feel like citizens of a battle-torn nation. With the help of countless dedicated therapists and teachers, biological interventions, and an enormously supportive family, my son has become a fun-loving, affectionate boy with many endearing qualities and skills. In the process we've created . . . well . . . our own country, with its own unique traditions and customs.

It's not a war zone, but it's still not Holland. Let's call it Schmolland. In Schmolland, it's perfectly customary to lick walls, rub cold pieces of metal across your mouth and line up all your toys end-to-end. You can show affection by giving a "pointy chin." A "pointy chin" is when you act like you are going to hug someone and just when you are really close, you jam your chin into the other person's shoulder. For the person giving the "pointy chin" this feels really good, for the receiver, not so much -- but you get used to it.

For citizens of Schmolland, it is quite normal to repeat lines from videos to express emotion. If you are sad, you can look downcast and say, "Oh, Pongo." When mad or anxious, you might shout, "Snow can't stop me!" or "Duchess, kittens, come on!" Sometimes, "And now our feature presentation" says it all.

In Schmolland, there's not a lot to do, so our citizens find amusement wherever they can. Bouncing on the couch for hours, methodically pulling feathers out of down pillows, and laughing hysterically in bed at 4:00 a.m. are all traditional Schmutch pastimes.

The hard part of living in our country is dealing with people from other countries. We try to assimilate ourselves and mimic their customs, but we aren't always successful. It's perfectly understandable that an 8 year-old from Schmolland would steal a train from a toddler at the Thomas the Tank Engine Train Table at Barnes and Noble. But this is clearly not understandable or acceptable in other countries, and so we must drag our 8 year-old out of the store kicking and screaming, all the customers looking on with stark, pitying stares. But we ignore these looks and focus on the exit sign because we are a proud people.

Where we live it is not surprising when an 8 year-old boy reaches for the fleshy part of a woman's upper torso and says, "Do we touch boodoo?" We simply say, "No, we do not touch boodoo," and go on about our business. It's a bit more startling in other countries, however, and can cause all sorts of cross-cultural misunderstandings.

And, though most foreigners can get a drop of water on their pants and still carry on, this is intolerable to certain citizens in Schmolland, who insist that the pants must come off no matter where they are and regardless of whether another pair of pants is present.

Other families who have special needs children are familiar and comforting to us, yet are still separate entities. Together we make up a federation of countries, kind of like Scandinavia. Like a person from Denmark talking to a person from Norway (or in our case, someone from Schmenmark talking to someone from Schmorway.), we share enough similarities in our language and customs to understand each other, but conversations inevitably highlight the diversity of our traditions. "My child eats paper. Yesterday he ate a whole video box." "My daughter only eats four foods, all of them white." "We finally had to lock up the VCR because my child was obsessed with the rewind button." "My son wants to blow on everyone."

There is one thing we all agree on. We are a growing population. Ten years ago, 1 in 10,000 children had autism. Today the rate is approximately 1 in 250. Something is dreadfully wrong. Though the causes of the increase are still being hotly debated, a number of parents and professionals believe genetic predisposition has collided with too many environmental insults -- toxins, chemicals, antibiotics, vaccines -- to create immunological chaos in the nervous system of developing children. One medical journalist speculated these children are the proverbial "canary in the coal mine", here to alert us to the growing dangers in our environment.

While this is certainly not a view shared by all in the autism community, it feels true to me.

I hope that researchers discover the magic bullet we all so desperately crave. And I will never stop investigating new treatments and therapies that might help my son. But more and more my priorities are shifting from what "could be" to "what is." I look around this country my family has created, with all its unique customs, and it feels like home. For us, any time spent "nation building" is time well spent.

-- The End --


New Member
Thank you for sharing that with us. I never thought to look at our family as a country. It just felt like we were the abnormal trying poorly to function in the normal.

When we first got the girls, I thought difficult child 3 was autistic. She would not make eye contact, would sit for hours doing nothing, not moving, wouldn't interact with anyone. I was beside myself not knowing what to do and feeling like it was a life sentence as I knew barely anything about autism except what was on TV. Somehow she slowly came out of it and finally was diagnosed as mildly retarded. It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but at least it was an answer to what was going on with her.

Upon the advice of my husband's ex, we have started giving difficult child 3 1 tsp of honey twice a day. Supposed to be an herbal/natural way to stop the wetting. Daughter told her it came from a special fairy and the liquid was magic, but she had to help it work. We shall see. Ex also told us to start difficult child 1 on St.John's Wort for her moody roller coaster. Also supposed to be herbal/natural for mood swings and harmless to her age. Ex is a Dr of Herbology (through mail order classes). She is also an ordained minister, go figure, and has 3 or 4 college degrees as well and works as a security guard.

Daughters 14 yr old daughter came for a weekend visit. That was a lovely weekend. At least one of the girls was in tears or sarcasm the whole weekend. The dirty looks were flying, mouths were sassing.....you know the routine. It was so much fun. I finally got so mad at the two older ones and told them that they were both premenstrual and that they needed to knock it off!! Finally, Sat night around 7 pm they decided to play Barbies together. This lasted until about 11 pm. By morning they were going at it again. Ugh....

God Bless You. Take care of yourself and know that we all care.


New Member
That was me that said the thing about Beirut. I didn't make it up though. I read it somewhere...

I like Schmolland, though--that gave me a big smile.

There are definitely war zone days. More often than not at the moment, but we do have our good times, and times when our weird little country makes its own kind of sense. I think I'll put Schmolland on my passport (or perhaps Schlatvia, since I'm sort of countryless among the Schmandinavians, seeing as how my kid has NLD, which is not *really* Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but kinda, and not at all like Learning Disability (LD)...except for how it's a learning disability too. And yeah, Latvia isn't Scandinavian, it's Baltic, which is all the more reason it makes sense for NLD. Have I flogged this metaphor enough yet?).

All I can say is that the people of my country are tired. Way too tired to try to walk around in wooden shoes. Much less appreciate them.