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Her experience was vastly different than anticipated, and she wanted to share her feelings as a parent of a child with a disability to correct the misconceptions often associated with having a child with special needs. Unfortunately, this plane doesn’t reach its intended destination.Through the metaphor of an unexpected change to vacation plans, Emily Perl Kingsley shows that raising a child with a disability is different than rearing a typically developing child, but it is equally rewarding and fulfilling. Instead of landing in stimulating, sophisticated Italy, the jet touches down in peaceful, picturesque Holland.
Kingsley begins her essay by comparing having a child to planning a vacation to Italy. Dismayed, the vacationer exclaims, “‘I signed up for Italy! All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy’” (Kingsley).
The eager traveler prepares for the vacation: “You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The feeling of forfeiture and incredulity is the same felt by mothers and fathers who anticipate a typically developing child, but unexpectedly receive a child for whom they are woefully unprepared.
The essay poignantly describes “the experience of having your life’s expectations turned upside down.” The essays reads as follows: “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.
My hope is that Welcome to Holland will help you find some peace on this rocky road.
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. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.’ But there’s been a change in the flight plan. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around . And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills . That’s what I had planned.’ And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away . There is disbelief and overwhelming dismay at the prospect of facing a new, uncertain future.Alone in this new place, the stunned tourist becomes prepared out of necessity.Jason had Down syndrome, and the dire predictions of medical professionals in the 1970’s left little hope for the Kingsleys.Thirteen years later, Emily Perl Kingsley wrote her essay, “Welcome to Holland”, about raising a child with a disability. This is precisely what most expectant parents do: they buy baby books instead of tour books, learn a new language of feeding, diapering and nurturing, and plan for all of the exciting and amazing moments they will experience with their little bundle of joy.Emily Perl Kingsley is a writer who joined the Sesame Street team in 1970 and has been writing for the show ever since.She is well-known for her essay, Welcome to Holland , about having a child with a disability.