Macron Earmarks €340M Autism Plan

President Macron

On Thursday, April 5, 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron revealed a plan to spend €340 million to bring France on a par with countries in Europe and North America as regards the diagnosis, treatment and management of autism. With only 20 percent of children with autism enrolled in school, France remains decades behind more enlightened countries.

According to Daniele Langloys, president of Autisme France, the deficiencies lie in outdated therapies, a dearth of trained teachers and medical personnel, and difficulties obtaining access to schools, care and employment. The Macron autism plan includes funding for earlier diagnosis, more research, teacher training, and more help for families.

What is autism?

Autism is a spectrum of disorders characterized by learning difficulties, impaired social interaction, and problems with communication and behavior. According to the Court of Auditors, the French administrative authority charged with conducting legislative and financial audits of public and private institutions, approximately 700,000 individuals in France are living on the spectrum. However, only 75,000 adults have been identified and diagnosed.

Families in France are often driven to neighboring Belgium or North America to seek treatment. Macron believes his plan, under which children as young as two years old could be registered in a program that will keep him in mainstream schools, will result in dramatic improvement in family quality of life, while at the same time saving a significant amount of healthcare funding.

Autism care in the United States and Europe

By comparison, in the United States, where 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, public schools are required to offer the individualized education programs. Here, advocacy groups, medical organizations and government agencies promote early diagnosis and treatment.

In Italy, a law was passed in 2015 mandating measures to protect the health, improve the living conditions, and address the limited social lives of people living with autism spectrum disorders.

Healthcare in France

That autism care in France should lag so far behind other countries is a conundrum, considering the World Health Organization ranked the country number one in an exercise measuring health system performance in 191 member states. Italy ranked second, while the United States earned 37th place.

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