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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dana's Uncommon Sense: "Amsterdam International"

I'm reposting with permission Dana's recent post, Amsterdam International:

"To fully get this post, please read (or re-read) Welcome to Holland before starting. Thanks.

 In the special needs world, there is a poem (essay? whatever.) called "Welcome to Holland." It is supposed to explain what it's like to have a child with special needs. It's short and sweet.

 It skips everything. While "Welcome to Holland" has a place, I used to hate it. It skipped over all of the agony of having a child with special needs and went right to the happy ending.

 The raw, painful, confusing entry into Holland was just glossed over. And considering the fact that this little poem is so often passed along to new-moms-of-kids-with-special-needs, it seems unfair to just hand them a little story about getting new guidebooks and windmills and tulips.

 If I had written "Welcome to Holland", I would have included the terrible entry time. And it would sound like this:

 Amsterdam International 

Parents of “normal” kids who are friends with parents of kids with special needs often say things like “Wow! How do you do it? I wouldn’t be able to handle everything---you guys are amazing!” (Well, thank you very much.) But there’s no special manual, no magical positive attitude serum, no guide to embodying strength and serenity . . . people just do what they have to do. You rise to the occasion, and embrace your sense of humor (or grow a new one). You come to love your life, and it’s hard to imagine it a different way (although when you try, it may sting a little). But things weren’t always like this . . . at first, you ricocheted around the stages of grief, and it was hard to see the sun through the clouds. And forget the damn tulips or windmills. In the beginning you’re stuck in Amsterdam International Airport. And no one ever talks about how much it sucks.

 You briskly walk off of the plane into the airport thinking “There-must-be-a-way-to-fix-this-please-please-don’t-make-me-have-to-stay-here-THIS-ISN’T-WHAT-I-WANTED-please-just-take-it-back”. The airport is covered with signs in Dutch that don’t help, and several well-meaning airport professionals try to calm you into realizing that you are here (oh, and since they’re shutting down the airport today, you can never leave. Never never. This is your new reality.). Their tone and smiles are reassuring, and for a moment you feel a little bit more calm . . . but the pit in your stomach doesn’t leave and a new wave of panic isn’t far off."
© Dana Nieder 10/2010

Please click over to Dana's site to read the rest of the piece (the formatting didn't work here and was bleeding across the right side, making most of the piece unreadable).

Kathleen wrote a similar post last year; No one goes to Italy, and it has nothing to do with autism.

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