Emily Perl Kingsley’s Welcome to Holland poem discusses the experience of having a disabled kid. We believe the poem is an excellent tool to make folks reconsider raising a kid with special needs.
Welcome to Holland Poem
Welcome to Holland poem compares what you expect when you have a child without a handicap to what you get when you have a child with one.
Emily plans a trip to Italy and activities in the same way as a non-disabled youngster would. The vacation to Italy in the poem becomes a trip to Holland, with Holland being a disabled kid.
The welcome to Holland poem employs the metaphor of a journey to Italy representing a conventional birth and child-rearing experience and a trip to Holland representing the experience of parenting a kid with special needs.
Welcome to Holland
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 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.
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1. Untitled by Amand Post
My little boy, this love of mine,
Does not know how to say;
Please give me room for every time,
His words get in the way.
You would not know by passing by,
The struggles everyday:
But try to look him in the eye,
You’ll see it in his face.
You may not understand how hard,
Small tasks in life can be;
How difficult to speak aloud,
Or learn your ABC’s.
And just because he doesn’t hug you,
Or kiss you hi and bye;
Doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you,
Please just give him time!
Through all the tantrums, fights and tears,
I look at him and see;
A little boy with tons of fears,
Who strives for normalcy.
Of course he sees he’s different,
But he just can’t see why;
Everybody’s time is spent,
Trying to make him ‘right’.
Open up your heart and mind,
And just watch quietly;
You’ll see a boy who’s really trying,
Just wants to be happy.
He’s just a scared little boy,
With every sight and sound;
I know he plays with just one toy,
And spins around and round.
I know sometimes he’ll yell and scream,
He simply cannot say;
He is not trying to be mean,
Things have to be his way.
All he can say is ‘It’s not right’,
Sometimes it seems unreal;
He can’t express though try he might,
To tell you how he feels.
I know that he repeats himself,
And sometimes others too;
Believe me that does really help,
Anxiety to be removed.
So please be patient and be kind,
Love him everyday;
I know in your heart you will find,
A place for him always.
He is my special, beautiful boy,
Whom I love endlessly;
He is my gift, my love, and my joy
He’s everything to me
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2. Of a Statue by William
The statue cannot feel their eyes.
It cannot know they’re really there.
No biting word can draw it’s blood.
No hurtful glance can make it care.
The statue keeps its vigil there.
It watches with unseeing eyes,
It has no envy of the ones
Who scamper pointlessly around.
But then a pair of piercing eyes
Seek out the statue where it waits.
They gaze into its soul so still;
A stone tossed in the tranquil pond.
Hello there, says the pair of eyes,
What are you doing over here?
And would you like to join with us?
We’ve room for just one more, you see.
The statue slowly shakes its head,
And, setting loose the dust of years,
It makes an odd, uncertain sound
As if to say, you speak to me?
The pair of eyes will not relent,
And as they meet the statue’s own
It sees that there’s a face behind
The eyes; a face filled with concern.
The statue makes its mouth a smile
And says with manufactured strength,
I’m fine, I’m fine, don’t bother me.
I just prefer it over here.
The eyes and face are satisfied,
Receding into their bright world.
They leave the statue quite perplexed,
Its point of view all broken up.
Perhaps there something to be said
For that that’s called Humanity,
Perhaps its worth the pain for one
Who can’t fit in to nonetheless
Still seek the bright society
Of those who fit in all to well;
To seek to see and to be seen
Because some of them care.
3. Painful Autism by Katie Kagan
This is our life, not yours.
If you care,
please do not stare.
When you laugh,
we break in half.
We are real.
We can feel.
We understand that,
we were not planned.
We are human.
My mind spins,
Because we don’t speak well…
We are seen as shy.
I cry for my girlfriend and I.
We try so hard,
To deal with our God-given card.
I want you to understand…
Our Autism was not planned.
We have Autism from birth.
We have worth.
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4. For My Friend by Linda Conrad
I know a little boy
He’s just adorable you see,
A person wouldn’t know by looking,
That he has a disability.
He has to practice and practice
To learn even the smallest things
Tasks that come easily to children developing typically.
Doctors call it Autism or ASD.
It means his brain is wired different and
He learns things better visually.
So make your directions short and precise
So his dependence on you will fade with time.
Patience, love, support and understanding
Is all that he is asking.
So when you meet this little guy
Smile and wave “Hi!”
His and your hard work
Will be worthwhile
When you get to see that charming grey eyed smile.
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