I have not personally had experience with disabling conditions or special needs in my family. A friend of mine is a teacher who works with children with special needs. She had a picture on her facebook this week of one of her students (with Down's Syndrome) affectionately sitting with his arm around another student. Her caption was "Here's two of my special kids showing affection... if these two kids can show this kind of love and affection why can't we all get along? Special Education ROCKS!!!! Don't knock it until you experience their world. =)"
A friend of hers submitted the following essay by Emily Perl Kingsley and I was very touched by it. I wanted to post it on MedHelp, because every week I see so many expectant parents having to go through the difficulties of worrying if everything is okay with their unborn child. Some find out that everything is indeed fine, perhaps they had a false positive, or something was said to them to make them think the child might be born with DS, special needs, or some disabling condition, and then further testing proved otherwise. Or, in some cases, their concerns are confirmed and they find themselves thrown head first into unkown and frightening territory of raising a child with these conditions, or even wonder if their pregnancy should continue. They come here looking for answers, for help, and while I cannot advise on the matter directly, I thought the following essay was so beautifully written that I'd like to re-post it here :o)
Welcome To Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with 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 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.