The Truth Can Set You Free
Updated: Feb 28
A certain autism specialist visited our DD center years ago at the beginning of our Autism journey. I will refer to him as "Dr. So & So". I was thrilled to sign up for his presentation to learn how to encourage Blake into talking.
During his presentation, he needed a volunteer to use as an example for one of his techniques and my friend eagerly raised her hand. She then shared how her son was an eloper. He would run off, sometimes creating dangerous situations.
What followed looked nothing short of a humiliation for my friend in front of this group of onlookers. He told her that when her son ran away to drop to her knees, arms wide open, and call out to him.
"Do it!" he chided.
"Now?" she said timidly.
"Yes. I want to see you drop to your knees and call him."
She kneeled down and pretended to call out to her son.
"I can't hear you! Do you want him back or not? Call him! Hold your arms out and call him like you actually want him to come back!"
I was immediately disgusted with Dr. So & So's tone. The drama continued as he told her to call louder and louder. From this point, I continued listening but now with skepticism.
Breakout sessions had been set up for later in the afternoon. We had a one-on-one appointment with this man and as much as I was sickened by him, I was preparing myself for any brash pointers that he had to share with us.
Blake entered the room disinterested. I had expected this. The Dr. sat on the floor and began a play therapy that fell short of my hopes. Everything that the Dr. did on that floor enraged Blake and turned into a fluster of frustration for him.
I asked a question regarding the technique and expressed that he seemed frustrated by this activity. Dr. So & So darted a look at me and spat words that I will never forget:
"Oh! I see. You don't want to help him! YOU JUST WANT TO FIX HIM!"
His barkings slapped and stung, leaving me feeling disillusioned. Of course, I wanted to "fix" him, but I also wanted to HELP him. I didn't feel like those words were mutually exclusive.
I return home with my spiral-bound workbook and let those poisonous words steep like an angry, bitter tea.
Months later, I found myself staring at the cover of Dr. So & So's workbook again. It was entitled, "The Child That You Do Have".
A dim light was starting to illuminate within me. That heinous man...that horrible, socially inept man was still echoing in my mind. Was I trying to help and embrace the child that I DID have, instead of trying to “fix” my child that I thought was broken? With a heavy sigh and with a broken heart, I had to answer, "No."
I have used those harsh words as a litmus test for the way we have proceeded on this journey ever since. I'm not really sure that I will ever appreciate Dr. So & So's style, but the impact of his words is undeniable. I have come to be thankful for that wretched day.
Harsh words, true words can leave us reeling sometimes, but quite often they can be a painful balm, a catalyst that helps heal. And while, as Jesus' people, we are to be speaking the truth in love to others, the basics of any spoken truth remain:
"Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal."
And the truth, friends, can truly help set us free.