Thursday, April 30, 2015

Autism Deserves Better (Especially in France)

By Laurence le Blet

My son Nicolas was born in 1999, 3 years after the law declared autism was no longer a psychiatric illness, but a disability.  But in France, we are still in the Middle Ages for autism.  Very few autistic kids go to school and many end up in psychiatric hospitals.  Parents, mostly mothers, have to stop working to take care of their children.  Poverty is added to the need to fight for each and every right.  Inclusion is a dream here.  To fight against institutions and even professionals to get the right help for your child is exhausting.

Nicolas started school at age 3 but I have pulled him out of school off and on to homeschool, due to the lack of open-minded schools here .  Presuming competence has always been my strength.  I have always known my boy was clever.  But the fact that he is nonverbal and has motor challenges makes people doubt his intelligence even now.  He started becoming interested in learning about the Holocaust at age 10 and people talk to him as if he is 2.  Knowledge about nonverbal autistics and their motor challenges is important in changing the way we educate these kids.  We must presume competence for inclusion.

A letterboard for communication

Laurence is the mother of Nicolas, age 15, who types to communicate.  She began teaching "Nico" to communicate with an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device in 2007.  After reading about Soma and Tito, she created a laminated letterboard for spelling.  As her goal has always been independence for her son, she worked with Nico to type independently.  He is still very slow and has difficulty typing without someone near him, but he is improving.  He now does academic work on a laptop and communicates with an iPad mini with voice output.  He brings his iPad everywhere he goes so he can converse anywhere.  

* I would like to dedicate this to Aymeric, a nonverbal French boy who died recently after an epileptic seizure.  His mother fought for his inclusion very courageously.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think I'd ever survive in France. Because I have profound autism, David Guetta, The Avener, Michael Calfan and The Supermen Lovers hate me and all French people would try and send me to a lunatic asylum and the people there will lock me up because I'm possessed not just to the French but all Europeans because my Autism's so bad.