Sometimes in life you meet beautiful people who really make an impact in your life. In that regard I have been really blessed particularly with the people I’ve met who have played an active role in caring for my children. One of those people is Shannon my son’s inclusion support worker.
I was probably at one of my lowest parenting points when Shannon came into Austin’s life. I had not only one child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder but then just had my second child diagnosed all while trying to take care of a newborn who had his own medical issues.
I had pretty much mentally prepared myself for the fact that I would probably visit Austin in jail in the future, no I’m not joking. He was that much of a handful that even family members didn’t want to take care of him. So really I have been so touched by the support his daycare have offered even to the point of bringing me to tears with their offers of help and Shannon was no exception.
I spent many days stressed, many nights sleepless, just wondering how I was going to make it through the day let alone the next ten years. However when Shannon started working with him his behaviour started to improve immensely. Now almost 6 months on he is social, verbal, articulate, and so much more gentle than he was before. It’s like he is a completely different boy.
I don’t even know where to begin to thank Shannon for bringing my much loved little boy back home. I even have tears in my eyes writing this but I am seriously so moved by the fact that she loves him as much as I do and never has anything less then patience and support for him. Our family really is blessed to have met the people we have and I will be sad when we do move away.
I think one thing that this really reminds me of is a poem a good friend of mine sent me when Austin was diagnosed…
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
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.