"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 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 some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. 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, 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."
The pain of that will never, ever, 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 get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland. "
One of my favorite poems. The experience is pretty spot on. The hardest part when you find out you are an autistic parent, is grieving the child you thought you would have. Having friends with children the same age , you love those kids, but it always leaves a little tear in your eye knowing we lost that.
Lincoln is my biggest challenge and WILL BE my biggest reward in the end. After years and years of praying for healing for him, I finally got the answer. He is suppose to be this way, because he is touching far more lives than I have in 28 years. He is being used by God and he is exactly the way he needs him to be at this time. We are blessed that everyday is Autism Awareness day in our house. I have met so many people through Lincoln. I know there will be a day that Link will tell us more about himself. In the meantime we're all living in Lincoln's world and making it slowly but surely.
He isn't the child I expected, but he is my Holland and it can be quite gorgeous here some days. Granted we do have a hurricane season here and there ;)