I have loved anything French since I was a child. It would range from
French food: Croissants, Fromage (cheese), Escargot (Yes, I like snails.), crêpes, Filet mignon, etc.
French places that I’ve always wanted to go to (but haven’t yet so far).
French literature (or literature that revolves around it): the Madeline books, Pepe Le Pew, An American in Paris, Rugrats in Paris etc.
and (admittedly) French Girls.
On the early morning of August 9th, 2016, I decided to look up a search on Google:
“Do the French have any experience with Autism?”
Expecting good results at first (like awareness groups that we have here in the United States), the results I got only grieved me.
If you’ve ever read the book or watched the Disney Adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, you’d know how Quasimodo must of felt when he felt like an outcast by the French people. Even with Quasimodo’s struggle being different, families of children who struggle with Autism are sadly under the same boat.
This led to the French Translation project of my testimony from Celebrate Recovery on YouTube, which is currently in the middle of phase one: the written portion of it.
After almost 2 years away from blogging, I have decided to write about this issue. The purpose of this post is to provide a comprehensive look at Autism in France, how it’s treated and what my hope and prayer is when it comes to translating my testimony into French.
What is the situation with Autism in school?
In the school system, children with autism are denied education. The video that you just saw shows proof of that.
The parents had documentation from the court that their son had a right to an education and that he had to go to school. Unfortunately, the school principal refused to comply with the dictates of the court order, thus denying access to the student. What was troubling the most was seeing the son try to go through the other entrance, yet the other teachers blocked him from entering and later started chaining the gate. Bottom line: The school restricted his access to an education and potentially a bright future.
While I am grateful to have had the education that I got here in America, It pains me to see someone else being denied that education in another country. They could have been just as successful as I am if they were allowed K-12 mainstream education or any Special Ed Alternatives that I got. For all we know, I could have been that boy if I lived in France, and I probably wouldn’t be writing posts, making videos, or sharing God’s love with others who struggle just like me.
So, if children struggling with autism aren’t getting education, what are they doing?
With mainstream education being out of the question, these children have no other alternatives but to be put in day care hospices. As if being denied education wasn’t bad enough, the way the children with autism are treated in these clinics is just as painful as it can get… literally and figuratively. They use a technique called “Le Pac” which means “Packing”. The following video shows an actual packing session taking place at a day care hospice.
CAUTION: This video is graphic, your discretion is advised.
From seventh grade to the first semester of my freshman year in high school, I have witnessed what it’s like to be physically restrained. The way my teachers did it was something that I am so grateful for because I would not be where I am today had I not gotten that discipline.
If I was a student in France however, I would not have been so lucky. In a packing session, they not only physically restrain these children, they also strip off their clothes and warp them around a cloth that they left in a freezer which would be like the temperature of Antarctica (I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean.)
They use this technique because they believe it controls children with autism, can “cure” it and will make them more accepted into society. But the problem is while that may calm them down it could also mess up their immune systems by getting bronchitis, pneumonia or any other types of sickness. There was also a report that one child died as a result of one of these sessions.
Well, If God was able to use people in my life to turn hurts into healing, and use testimonies from other brothers and sisters to encourage me, I thought these parents of French children with Autism needed to be encouraged. However, it’s also important to remember that France is mostly unchurched. I have been praying through this since August. After carefully praying and receiving perspective from my sponsor for Celebrate Recovery, my church, Valley Community Church in Pleasanton, and my CR Small group, I feel that the Lord is laying on my heart to have my testimony here on YouTube translated into French so that French parents of children struggling with Autism are not only encouraged, but also get to experience the Good news at the same time from someone who struggles with Autism, yet continues to put his trust in his Adonai and Messiah, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The problem however is twofold:
- I am not familiar with the French Culture.
- Nor do I speak the language.
So I need to look for someone to help me translate my testimony from English to French and in a way that can be better understood by the French Culture.
In all honesty, I don’t know what I’m getting myself into when it comes to such a task, but I am confident that the Lord will continue to be in control.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV):
“…Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
How will you contribute to the project?
At the present time, a number of people including a couple who is involved with CR International is currently translating my testimony in written form. But I am keeping the opportunity open in case something happens.
As for me…
J’apprend le Français pour le parents d’autistes. (I’m learning French for parents of children struggling with autism.)
If I’m going to have my testimony translated into French and have it dubbed over, I have to at least contribute some way or another. Currently, I am studying independently with videos on demand from a series that originally aired on PBS in the 80’s: French in Action – The Capretz Method (taught by the late Pierre Capretz). So far, it’s like I’m learning how to talk again just like I did when I was six years old. Will I be able to have conversations in French? Probably not. Is it going to be easy? Oh gosh, no! But my Adonai never once promised me that life would even be like that. He promised quite the contrary. All I have to do is trust that He will work with me through this. No matter what happens, God is in control.
There is also a possibility that God may call me to potential missions to France as well, but that’s still up in the air at this point. Of course there’s going to be some opposition involved. Because we’re not just talking about a country that is unchurched. We’re talking about a country that doesn’t have a proper understanding of autism. You see, bringing Gospel Centered Autism Awareness is a double whammy for Satan. He doesn’t want me to share my story in France. But I am more concerned about the parents and their children and I am doing this for the Glory of God and God alone. Soli deo Gloria!
What can we do?
This is a mission that is so sophisticated that it will require an extensive amount of strategic planning, perspective, patience, but of most importance: PRAYER.
My church, VCC believes that Prayer is the Language of Dependence. And I am depending on my Adonai, my Lord, my Father in Heaven when it comes to this project. So the only thing I ask of you, the reader is to PRAY. Please pray that God will provide in his timing the right person to translate my testimony and possibly have it dubbed over so I can share it again in French.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and keeping me in prayer as I put my focus on Yeshua, Jesus when it comes to this project.