Holland Schmolland

Avatar for littleroses
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Holland Schmolland
4
Mon, 07-28-2003 - 6:42pm




(I found this on yahoo! groups today. I just felt like this lady must have had a hiddne camera in my home).





Holland Schmolland

By Laura Krueger Crawford

If you have a child with autism, which I do, and if you troll the

Internet for information, which I have done, you will come across a certain

inspirational analogy. It goes like this: Imagine that you are planning a

trip to Italy. You read all the latest travel books, you consult with

friends about what to pack, and you develop an elaborate itinerary for your

glorious trip. The day arrives. You board the plane and settle in with your

in-flight magazine, dreaming of trattorias, gondola rides and gelato.

However, when the plane lands you discover, much to your surprise, you are

not in Italy -- you are in Holland. You are greatly dismayed at this abrupt

and unexpected change in plans. You rant and rave to the travel agency, but

it does no good. You are stuck. After a while, you tire of fighting and

begin to look at what Holland has to offer. You notice the beautiful tulips,

the kindly people in wooden shoes, the French fries and mayonnaise, and you

think, "This isn't exactly what I planned, but it's not so bad. It s just

different." Having a child with autism is supposed to be like this -- not

any worse than having a typical child -- just different.

When I read that, my son was almost three, completely non-verbal and

was hitting me over a hundred times a day. While I appreciated the intention

of the story, I couldn't help but think, Are they kidding? We are not in

some peaceful countryside dotted with windmills. We are in a country under

siege -- dodging bombs, trying to board overloaded helicopters, bribing

officials -- all the while thinking, What happened to our beautiful life?

That was 5 years ago. My son is now 8 and though we have come to

accept that he will always have autism, we no longer feel like citizens of a

battle torn nation. WITH the help of countless dedicated therapists and

teachers, biological interventions, and an enormously supportive family, my

son has become a fun-loving, affectionate boy with many endearing qualities

and skills. In the process we ve created well our own country, with its

own unique traditions and customs.

It s not a war zone, but it s still not Holland. Let's call it

schmolland.

In Schmolland, it is perfectly customary to lick walls, rub cold

pieces of metal across your mouth and line up all your toys end to end. You

can show affection by giving a "pointy chin." A "pointy chin " is when you

act like you are going to hug someone and just when you are really close,

you jam your chin into the other person s shoulder. For the person giving

the "pointy chin" this feels really good, for the receiver not so much, but

you get used to it. 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.

The hard part about living in our country is dealing with people from

other countries. We try to assimilate ourselves and mimic their customs, but

we aren t always successful. It s perfectly understandable that an

8-year-old boy from Schmolland would steal a train from a toddler at the

Thomas the Tank Engine Train Table at Barnes and Noble. But this is clearly

not understandable or acceptable in other countries, and so we must drag our

8 year old out of the store kicking and screaming while all the customers

look on with stark, pitying stares. But we ignore these looks and focus on

the exit sign because we are a proud people. Where we live, it is not

surprising when an 8-year-old boy reaches for the fleshy part of a woman's

upper torso and says, Do we touch boodoo? We simply say, "No we don't

touch boodoo" and go on about our business. It's a bit more startling in

other countries, however, and can cause all sorts of cross-cultural

misunderstandings. And, though most foreigners can get a drop of water on

their pants and still carry on, this is intolerable to certain citizens in

Schmolland who insist that the pants must come off no matter where they are,

and regardless of whether another pair of pants are present.

Other families who are affected by autism are familiar and comforting

to us, yet are still separate entities. Together we make up a federation of

countries, kind of like Scandinavia. Like a person from Denmark talking with

a person from Norway, (or in our case someone from Schmenmark talking with

someone from Schmorway), we share enough similarities in our language and

customs to understand each other, but conversations inevitably highlight the

diversity of our traditions. Oh your child is a runner? Mine won t go to

the bathroom without asking permission. "My child eats paper. Yesterday he

ate a whole video box." "My daughter only eats 4 foods, all of them white."

"My son wants to blow on everyone." "My son can't stand to hear the word no.

We can't use any negatives at all in our house." "We finally had to lock up

the VCR because my son was obsessed with the rewind button."

There is one thing we all agree on: we are a growing population.

10 years ago, 1 in 10,000 children had autism.

Today the rate is approximately 1 in 250.

Something is dreadfully wrong. Though the causes of the increase are

still being hotly debated, a number of parents and professionals believe

genetic pre-disposition has collided with too many environment insults --

toxins, chemicals, anti-biotics, vaccines -- to create immunological chaos

in the nervous systems of developing children. One medical journalist

speculated that these children are like the proverbial canary in the coal

mine here to alert us to the growing dangers in our environment. While this

is certainly not a view shared by all in the autism community, it feels true

to me.

I hope that researchers discover the magic bullet we all so

desperately crave. And I will never stop investigating new treatments and

therapies that might help my son. But more and more my priorities are

shifting from what could be to what is. I look around at this country my

family has created, with all its unique customs, and it feels like home. For

us, any time spent "nation-building" is time well spent.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Mon, 07-28-2003 - 8:53pm
Good Reading, Thanks for sharing that.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-26-2003
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 11:09pm
Hi, and thank you so much for posting this version of the ubiquitous "Holland" prose! I love it!! Though my son was very different from hers (save for that Thomas the Tank Engine immersion study), I, too, found the "Holland" stuff just a little too jolly and uplifting for how life really was and how I really felt. Hooray for someone taking the time to jot a retort down, and hooray to you for taking the time to cross-post it!

-Hannah

Avatar for rose9595
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-2003
Wed, 07-30-2003 - 2:57pm
Thank you so much for posting this. I am a survivor from this war-torn country!

I'm bothered also by the "A child learns what they live" poem sometimes. I feel like I've been a very tolerant, loving, generous, parent... The poem doesn't always fit kids on the spectrum. They need to be directly taught... it doesn't just "rub off" on them!

I am rarely on the messageboards anymore, but I like to put in a plug for an intervention we are using called "Relationship Development Intervention." It is powerful stuff for people on the spectrum. The website is www.connectionscenter.com and you will find many social activities to help build relative thinking and relationship skills.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2003
Wed, 07-30-2003 - 3:46pm
ROFL, I love it! I think I've visited Schmolland on occasion, though I live in Schmermany.

I think we could turn this into a game for the board.......hmmmmmmm. I have some ideas, look under the Weekly folder for the game.

Thanks for sharing, my 10yo NT and I are rolling with laughter. :)

Candes