Dear Friends and Family,
This year I am going to start my family letter with a poem. It is about the expectations a parent has about raising a child and how those changed once she had a child with special needs. This poem always touches my heart and I hope it will do the same for you.
Welcome to Holland
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 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.
By Emily Perl Kingsley
Our Family has been crazy busy this year. We have continued to raise awareness and knowledge about autism in our local area and nationally. Jason is the co-chair of the Walk Now for Autism and we have tried to be active in the autism community. We have participated in the Faces of Autism Photo Project, which was even recognized at the National Autism Speaks Conference in May of 2010. We also have raised local awareness by our Light It Up Blue Campaign. This year Zion’s school got involved. They lit the school blue and set the week aside for autism awareness that included Jason and I reading in the classes about being a friend to someone with autism. We have been so blessed to have a school and principal so willing to educate the kids and parents about autism.
At Autism Speaks, our goal is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.
Autism Speaks aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.
Autism Speaks. It’s time to listen
If you would like to support our Walk Team on September 10th, 2011 please consider giving on our walk page. The money raised goes to family grants, research, awareness and services for families who are affected by autism.
Here are the links:
http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/swmissouri/taraholcomb or you can go to www.zionstribe.com and press on the link to our fundraising page. You can also join our team and raise money. You can walk with us or be a virtual walker and still raise money. If you raise $150 (by making a page yourself) we will give you a Zion’s Tribe T-shirt.
Thank you so much for your love and support through the years. We are so blessed.
Tara, Jason, Hannah, Zion and Caleb Holcomb
Photos from Faces of Autism and Light it Up Blue: