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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Autism, Education, and the European Union

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the need for more study of the issue in other countries.

At PLOS One, Monika Roleska and colleagues have an article titled: "Autism and the  Right to Education in the EU: Policy Mapping and Scoping Review of the United Kingdom, France, Poland and Spain."  The abstract:
Autistic people may have different educational needs that need to be met to allow them to develop their full potential. Education and disability policies remain within the competence of EU Member States, with current educational standards and provisions for autistic people implemented locally. This scoping review aims to map EU and national special education policies with the goal of scoping the level of fulfilment of the right to education of autistic people.
Four EU countries (United Kingdom, France, Poland and Spain) were included in this scoping review study. Governmental policies in the field of education, special education needs and disability law were included. Path dependency framework was used for data analysis; a net of inter-dependencies between international, EU and national policies was created.
Results and discussion
Each country created policies where the right to free education without discrimination is provided. Poland does not have an autism specific strategy, whereas the United Kingdom, France and Spain have policies specifically designed for autistic individuals. Within the United Kingdom, all countries created different autism plans, nevertheless all aim to reach the same goal—inclusive education for autistic children that leads to the development of their full potential.
Policy-making across Europe in the field of education has been changing through the years in favour of autistic people. Today their rights are noticed and considered, but there is still room for improvement. Results showed that approaches and policies vastly differ between countries, more Member States should be analysed in a similar manner to gain a broader and clearer view with a special focus on disability rights in Central and Eastern Europe
From the article:
This study provided vital information on the right to education of autistic people in the UK, France, Poland and Spain. The scope of this study only included four countries, therefore the results cannot be generalized and clear conclusion on the average level of the fulfilment of the right to education cannot be drawn. More countries should be analysed to get a better picture of the situation across the EU. Additionally, since this is the first in a series of studies that map SEN policy in the EU, the findings have not been able to be triangulated to ensure reliability. Furthermore, the initial pool of identified studies has not been examined by other authors, meaning the reliability of the screening process cannot be guaranteed. More research should also be conducted to establish whether strategies that are in place have an effect on autistic children, such as improved learning, skills and higher rates of participation in education. To the best of our knowledge, there are no previous studies that have examined whether education of autistic people in EU countries is directed to development of their talents, creativity and provides them with skills they need to successfully progress into employment. To this day, the research in the field of education and autism policies in the EU as well as globally is scarce and remains an important gap in autism research. It is for this reason that this study aimed to review existing information as well as attract interest to conduct more research in this field in the future.