Welcome To Holland Poem

The best poem you'll ever read on having a child with Autism

Welcome To Holland
poem by Emily Perl Kingsley

"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 guidebooks 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 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. 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 guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new group of people you would have never met.

It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there a while, you catch your breath, you look around....and then you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandt's.

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 go away....because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But....if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things....about Holland."


  1. WA mom of 2 autistic boysJanuary 5, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    I love this! I will be printing it up and framing it for our home.

  2. I always lolled when I see this poem.

    Martijn van der Kooij
    Netherlands (or Holland)

  3. I know me too =) We have printed out on nice scrap paper and framed in our home =)

  4. thanks for the poem. it helps me when it gets hard.

  5. Thank you for the reminder about perspective and life and how it can take an unexpected u-turn