The psychiatric profession’s reaction to French government’s recommendations

PsychomediaAs reported by Autism Daily Newscast, there has be a change in government policy regarding autism in France. The same can not be said of the traditional medical and psychiatric institutions.

Back in March, La haute autorité de santé (HAS or Higher Authority for Health) et l’Anesm (National Agency for the evaluation and the quality of schools and social and medico-social services) delivered a report called  «3è Plan Autisme»  on the treatment of autism in France. One of the challenges of the recommendation was to define the place of psychoanalysis in the treatment of autism.

Some of the recommendations

The practice of  packing , wrapping the autistic child in wet and cold towels, should be banned even though the HAS and  l’Anesm did  not oppose the clinical research using this technique.

The report called for interventions to begin by four years of age or three months after diagnosis which followed “custom interventions, comprehensive and coordinated based on educational, behavioral and developmental approach.”  They recommended the TEACHH program,  or ABA, to help develop communication in autistic children. Many French psychiatrists and psychoanalysts continue to resist these methodologies.

The report states the need to focus the education of autistic children in regular classes and offers “specific interventions for communication.”

In its issue 43 (September-October 2013) Psychomedia Magazine devotes a double page article entitled  « Troisième plan Autisme : des enjeux bien éloignés de la psychanalyse »   EgaliTED, a group of parents of holders of autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders children, claims that the article is primarily intended to challenge the merits of the «3è Plan Autisme»

The article in Psychomedia asks the question: Why, then, after decades of these methods being  practiced by caring dedicated professionals are the families  rejecting our work? ”  EgaliTED has a simple answer:

- Either the families reject psychoanalysis because they see, for decades, its ineffectiveness. They want to help their children with other methods. Who can blame them?

- Either the families do not understand anything and professionals know better than they what is good for their child.

- Either the families reject psychoanalysis because subconsciously they do not wish to “cure” their “psychotic” child.

EgaliTED goes on to say:

The second and third alternatives are obviously not enough “politically correct” to be written publicly. Yet this is what is going to be taught in many schools.

With 200 million Euros earmarked for the plan, the question remains. Given the attitudes of the psychiatric profession, the lack of individuals trained in developmental therapies such as ABA and a starting point which is 40 years behind countries like the USA, Canada and Belgium, can France achieve the significant change that is needed?

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About Roberta Hill

Editor-In-Chief and Writer

Roberta Hill is a Canadian Expat who likes to write about her challenges running a virtual business and raising a family abroad. She has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from University of Western Ontario and a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from McGill University.

Roberta has been self employed for the past 25 years. Her oldest step son is on the autism spectrum.