Campaigners brand French autism care a sham

CC BY by Andy Hay

CC BY by Andy Hay

Thousands of autism campaigners took to the streets of Paris on Saturday March 29 in a bid to urge the government not to treat autism as a form of psychosis.

Vanincre L’Autisme organised this, the eleventh march for hope in a bid to raise awareness of how far behind France is compared to the rest of Europe in terms of autism care. A large majority of children diagnosed with autism end up in psychological institutes.

France does not offer behavioural therapy for children with  a diagnosis. Autism Daily Newscast reported on this issue back in October 2013. Children have been misdiagnosed or ignored in France, due to the governments’ insistence that autism is a form of psychosis.

Daniel Fasquelle a member of the french parliamnet had this to say whilst being interviewed by the BBC:

“It is an out-and-out disgrace. Every day I am contacted by parents with the same story – how their child’s autism was not detected in time, so they never had the treatment that they needed.

“Thousands of children could have been saved. They do it everywhere else. Why not here? It is France’s shame.”

Amélie Churlet of Vanquish Autism says psychoanalysis still has a strong grip in France to this day.

She told RFi news:

“[The World Health Organisation] WHO has said that autism is a neurobiological problem, which is really different from what a lot of people still think in France. So if that doesn’t change, the situation won’t change.

Every step they have to fight for their rights and many, many children and adults end up in psychiatry hospitals with medicine and it’s not what they should get. They should get behavioural analysis, get educational treatments so they can really live in the society and have the right of every citizen.”

Campaigners have long tried to influence the governments stringent autism policies, asking for behavioural therapy and early intervention therapies to be implemented, as they are present in neighbouring European countries.

Up to 80 pc of autistic children in France do not attend mainstream school. Earlier last year a series of enraged mothers conducted hunger strikes to emphasise their plight.

France’s Health Ministry unveiled three plans for autism treatment. Originally launched in 2005 and the latest in 2013 – but the Council of Europe commented these plans do not go far enough.