I haven’t shared with many people yet, but we finally got some answers about Bennett in November. He has Autism Spectrum Disorder. I knew. I knew as soon as I filled out the first M-CHAT and slowly watched the list of his symptoms, if that is what you call them, grow and intensify. I’m happy to have some answers. All I wanted was to know what was going on so we could get him the right mix of therapies and help him learn in a way that he understands.
We have a wonderful team of people working with us, and we’re still working on adding more. He’s made incredible progress already and I’m so proud of him. We have an early childhood special education teacher that comes to our home each week to work with him, as well as a speech therapist and occupational therapist. He is still in private speech therapy and will be starting private occupational therapy after the new year. We are in the early stages of working with the county to see what he can qualify for through them as well, and when we know that, we will add some additional services and/or therapies as well.
I have a lot more to say about this, but for now I’ll just skip to what I came here to share in the first place – this piece of writing. I was first made aware of this of writing at a meeting I went to in November with other moms of children with autism. Since then, I’ve read it, re-read it, and read it again. And it just seems so… fitting.
Welcome to Holland
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 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 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.
I think that I’m one of the lucky ones. I got to go to Italy and Holland with these two handsome tour guides.