Holland Schmolland

Friday 6 June 2003This is 20 years old. Be careful.

There’s a famous essay in special-needs circles called Welcome to Holland, about the fact that your life with your child is not what you planned, but it has its own joys. Our experience with autism wasn’t quite like that, and a number of other autism parents we’ve talked to felt the same.

Now a mother of an autistic sums it up: Holland Schmolland. I think it perfectly captures the feel of a family living with autism:

For citizens of Schmolland, it is quite normal to repeat lines from videos to express emotion. If you are sad, you can look downcast and say “Oh Pongo.” When mad or anxious, you might shout, “Snow can’t stop me!” or “Duchess, kittens, come on!” Sometimes, “And now our feature presentation” says it all. In Schmolland, there’s not a lot to do, so our citizens find amusement wherever they can. Bouncing on the couch for hours, methodically pulling feathers out of down pillows, and laughing hysterically in bed at 4:00am, are all traditional Schmutch pastimes.


think I was cut off here accidentally... to state again...

I, too, am very familiar with Emily Kingsley's "Welcome to Holland," a beautiful, well-written and inspiring piece. It helped me thru the initial fog of confusion, fear, and despair surrounding our daughter's regression into autism. However, once I was really in the trenches of treatment and research and funding issues... and day to day living... the cheerfulness of the piece became less helpful and more irritating. Because sometimes "holland" is indeed a horrible, digusting place - full of broken dreams, false hopes, and endless opportunities for guilt. Am I doing enough? can i ever do enough? will she ever be functional? god, can she ever be safe? At these times, "Holland" seems less the land of windmills and tulips, but more the land of opportunites for anti-depressants and breaking-point stress.

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