In memory of Freddie Appleyard.
A website to help disabled children and their families.

Welcome to Holland
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 i would feel, its like this..............

When you are going to have a baby, its like planning a fabulous holiday 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, its 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 we'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. Its 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 of met. Its just a different place, Its slower - paced then Italy, less flashy then Italy. but after you've been there 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 coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about the 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, ever go away....because the loss of that dream is a very, very significent loss.

But....if you spend your life mourning the fact you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things..... about Holland