The French government has launched a €340m (£297m) strategy in an effort to make amends for the country’s scandalous state treatment of children and adults with autism, which has been denounced by the United Nations as a “widespread violation” of citizens’ rights.
President Emmanuel Macron, who made the need to improve the education and rights of people with autism a part of his election campaign, said he wanted everyone “to be included in school and everyday life”.
The strategy was launched by the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, on Friday afternoon and intends, in the words of one government adviser, to “at last” give children with a neurodevelopmental disorder access to mainstream education in France – a legal right that they have consistently been denied.
There will also be a drive to improve support for autistic adults, only 0.5% of whom are in regular employment, and who are routinely admitted to psychiatric hospitals. The government acknowledged that an adult with autism in France is three times more likely to be in long-term psychiatric care than the rest of the population. Rights groups decry the treatment as inadequate and inappropriate.