Undue placement of children with autism in France

Women Enabled International is an organization fighting for the rights of women and girls with disabilities. They launched a survey aiming at mapping advocates working for the rights of women and girls with disabilities globally.

Undue placement of children with autism in France
etr UNAPEI and Autisme France are two French organizations for people
with intellectual disabilities.In France, some children with autism are taken from their parents and
put in institutions.
Social services do not understand that the children have autism.
They think that their parents are not taking care of them properly.
That is why the social services ask to put them in institutions.

UNAPEI and Autisme France published a press release to let people
know of this situation.

Last week, 127 French associations, including Inclusion Europe member Unapei, published a joint press release denouncing the undue placement of children with autism into the care of the state. The decisions were taken by court order, following a procedure of the French national child welfare services, Aide Sociale à l’Enfance (ASE). The associations gave  the example of a mother who will see her 3 children taken away from her because the ASE believes she is responsible for the developmental disabilities her children are experiencing.

The three children, two boys aged 6 and 9 and a girl aged 4, have been diagnosed with a developmental disability called Pervasive Developmental Disorder, an autism spectrum disorder.

According to the press release, the judge ignored the children’s diagnosis. The mother is accused of causing her children’s disabilities in order to receive the disability benefits and call attention to herself. Indeed, the ASE claimed that she had the Munchhausen Syndrome, a psychological disorder that causes people affected to feign their illness (or their children’s) in order to draw attention or sympathy to themselves. Many mothers of children with autism have been accused by the ASE of having this syndrome, most of the time by a social assistant with no medical expertise.

Children with developmental disabilities, such as autism, often have difficulties concentrating, eating and sleeping disorders and can sometimes inflict injuries upon themselves. Someone not familiar with this disability could misinterpret this behavior as a lack of affection, care or a sign of abuse.

While waiting for the appeal, the judge also refused temporarily placing  the children with their grandparents  Children with autism   need a safe environment and regularity in their habits, and  being placed in a non-specialized collective structure is disastrous for them. Unaccompanied, they are exposed to risks of psychological trauma, massive insecurity and the potential aggravation of their symptoms.

The French association Autisme France describes the ASE as a grinding machine for families of children with autism. Last month, the association published a report revealing the dysfunctions of the ASE, which routinely infringe on children’s rights. These dysfunctionalities have been the object of several official reports in the last 15 years.

Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.

This has always been incredibly important. It is even more so with the Covid pandemic drastic impact on their rights and lives.

Being visible and vocal on issues directly affecting millions of people requires your support. 

Become Inclusion Europe supporter and help us keep doing our work.