There is a very special story written by Emily Perl Kingsley in1987.
She tells about planning a fabulous trip to Italy, learning the language and buying the guidebooks, but then landing in Holland instead. At first she’s disappointed because everyone else she knows is going to Italy. Because she’s arrived in Holland, she has to learn a different language and buy different guidebooks and meet different people. Soon she discovers that Holland has windmills, and tulips, and Rembrandts. Although she regrets not getting to Italy, she learns to appreciate Holland.
This story is an allegory about parenting a child with special needs.
Just like unexpected changes to travel plans, having a child with special needs is not what parents imagine when they become pregnant. It takes some getting used to after they discover their child’s differences. And no matter how much the parents love and adore their child, there is a part of them that may mourn the loss of their dream.
In your work, you’ll meet parents of children with special needs who are in various stages of adjustment. Some will be in denial that they’ve arrived in Holland and insist that they’re in Italy. Others will embrace Holland and help you appreciate its wonderful attributes. Many will recognize that they’re in Holland, but still long for Italy and it will affect their relationship with you and their child.
When children with special needs attend our programs, we also need to adjust to life in Holland-by learning the language and reading the guidebooks like the parents have done.
Adapting to Holland might require looking at our program a little differently or developing new skills. Just as having children from different cultures adds to the richness of our community, children from “Holland” bring opportunities for everyone to learn and grow.
I’m keeping my Breakfast post brief this month because I hope that you will follow the link below and read the short story by Emily Perl Kingsley. It will give you a new perspective on parenting a child with special needs.
It’s been a long, cold winter here in New Jersey so I’m having fresh fruit for breakfast to celebrate spring!
Author Profile: @janesharp