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What is it like to find out that your child has severe learning difficulties?
In this audio clip, Emma's mother (Ruth) describes how she found out about her daughter's
When you listened to this clip, what were your first impressions?
How did Emma's mother feel?
In this audio clip, Harvey's father (Simon) speaks of hope around Harvey's premature
As he speaks, list the challenges that Harvey faces, and list the father's hopes.
There are two sides to being a parent of a child with disabilities. Emily Perl
Kingsley's piece 'Welcome to Holland' captures them both.
While a family's journey may follow a different route from that which they had
anticipated prior to the birth of their child, their destination is the same as any
child without a disability – the celebration and fulfilment of their child’s
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
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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