As some of you may know my youngest son is autistic. He was only three-years-old when diagnosed and I can still remember the day as if it were yesterday. I felt as if I were thrown from a ship in the middle of an ocean. I was shocked and terrified, but most of all I was sad. That was fifteen years ago and my son is now eighteen.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ it was also the title of a book written by Hilary Rodham Clinton. Well, it definitely took a village to raise my son and not just one… but three!
When he was ten we moved from Norway to Houston and lived there for two years. From Houston we moved to the Netherlands, where we lived for three years before returning home to Norway. Over the last fifteen years teachers, assistants, caseworkers, specialists, neighbors, friends and family in three different countries have helped and taught both me and my son. It hasn’t been easy and I’m tremendously thankful to each and every one of these people!
If you look Autism up in the dictionary it says… A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.
This is not incorrect, but it is a very general definition because autistics are not all alike. For example, my son can communicate in two languages, Norwegian and English. He’s never met a video game he couldn’t beat and he’s learning to play the Bagpipes online! Yes, my son is autistic, but he’s also unique and I wouldn’t change one thing about him, even if I could.
Congratulations, you’ve just won a free trip to the Netherlands!
They say God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland. With over a quarter of its surface below sea level the Dutch leave nothing to chance. Instead they create their own nature and this makes the Netherlands a beautiful and fascinating place.
I had the privilege of living there for three years in a town called Wassenaar, which is located directly between Amsterdam and the Hague. I could sit here all night and gush about how great it was to live there, or you can see for yourself…
There’s no need to clean out the fridge, pack a suitcase or find a sitter for the dog, because you’ll only be gone for ten minutes… So sit back, press play and enjoy your trip.