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Norwegian Presidency Conference Strasbourg - 2004
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Education and integration of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)

Children with autism spectrum disorders are entitled, in the same way as other children, to an education that supports their personal development and to quality care that meets their individual needs and respects their dignity.

Following a collective complaint from the international association Autisme-Europe (AIAE) against France (No. 13/2002) under the system provided by the revised European Social Charter1, the Council of Europe set up, in 2004, a Committee of Experts on the Education and Integration of Children with Autism to:

exchange information on the definition of autism and related statistics,

examine the services provided to children with autism, particularly within the education system,

share information on experience in the implementation at national level of a coherent policy for this particular group,

compile a collection of examples of good practice,

draw up recommendations to governments to further the education and integration of children with autism.

Six meetings, chaired by Ms Kari Steindal (Norway), were held in the period up to 2006, culminating in a substantial report (approximately 150 pages) by Professor Rita Jordan from Birmingham University (United Kingdom). This report, aimed at policy-makers, institutions, professionals and parents, is due out in the first half of 2007. For the first time, European authorities on autism have come together to pool their expertise and experience in what remains a relatively unexplored area.

The report begins by describing the nature and challenges of autism spectrum disorders, and the needs of children affected by them. It provides an overview of identification and diagnosis, educational services and out-of-school provision for children and families, based on replies to a questionnaire sent to the 46 member states and observer states of the Council of Europe in June 2005. These replies are presented in the form of a table. For the definitions, reference is made to the International Classification of Diseases and Disorders, tenth edition (ICD 10) of the World Health Organization, which also provided expertise on epidemiological issues.

The report ends by making recommendations. These were drafted with the active involvement of Autisme-Europe2 and are liberally illustrated with examples of good practice testifying to the progress made in member states, even though the level of autism awareness differs across Europe.

A draft resolution containing these recommendations will be submitted to the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Europe’s decision-making body, in early 2007, thus giving them legal status.

Interview of Kari Steindal
“A society that can cope with autism can deal with all other forms of disability”

In english

Non-official languages :

German : ''Eine Gesellschaft, die mit Autismus umgehen kann, kann auch mit anderen Behinderungen umgehen''

Italian : "Una società capace di affrontare l'autismo è capace di rispondere a ogni altra forma di handicap"

1 1995 protocol which entered into force in 1998