Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Today in Introduction to Special Education, we had a guest speaker come in to talk about her experience with a special needs child. This young woman, Becky, has a son with cerebral palsy. Now, CP is very much a vague umbrella term used to describe a group of movement and posture disorders, resulting from brain damage to some degree. Micah wasn't born with CP. In fact, when he was about 2 weeks old, he developed a severe form of jaundice, in which his bilirubin level grew to such a degree that it caused permanent brain damage. This specific form of CP is called kernicterus.

You may be wondering why I am taking the time to blog about this lady you don't know, and will never know. Well, many of you know that I have a sincere interest and care for children with CP. My good friend, Emma, was born with CP. It is so refreshing and encouraging to see families, such as Emma's and Micah's, have such a positive attitude about their life. Several times throughout Becky's presentation, she made mention of how blessed she felt to have a child with special needs, and what a blessing it is that the school system is so cooperative. She also mentioned that she believes God had been preparing her and her husband for this situation long before Micah was born. Her husband received his degree in physical therapy, and Becky has a degree in chemistry. Before she had children, Becky worked as a pharmaceutical chemist, experimenting with different drugs. Both of their careers have helped immensely in raising a child with special needs.

It is such a blessing to know that God is in control and has supreme ruling over the plans for us. Just from listening to Becky speak for a little over an hour today, I am confident that the Lord is with that family, and has been since long before we can imagine. I don't believe Becky and her husband are raising a special needs child by chance. I am thankful that Becky believes this herself, and was bold enough to proclaim that in a college classroom.

Becky shared a poem with us today that some of you may have heard before. I had never heard it before, but I really enjoyed it. The poem is titled, "Welcome to Holland," and it tells of the emotions that parents of children with special needs experience.

byEmily Perl Kingsley.

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.


strem said...

What a wonderful poem! So applicable to so many of us - regardless if we are single, married, don't have children, or have children with special needs. Thank you for sharing Becky's testimony of God's blessings in her life and the wonderful things you are learning in class.

Sandy-san said...

In other words, enjoy every moment even if it isn't what you expect. There are joys to be discovered, but you have to allow the joys to happen. That's a very thoughtful point of view... thanks for sharing this, Lydia!