About 5,000 people have autism in Côte-d’Or, at the time of the opening this Saturday of the National Congress in Dijon. Solutions will be presented in particular for autistic children.
France Bleu Bourgogne: Let’s be concrete, can you recall what autism is?
Christine Garnier: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can become disabling depending on the level of these disorders. Most of the time, this results in problems in people’s social interactions. They find it difficult to get in touch with others. They also present very severe disorders such as language disorders!
These disorders from the age of 18 months, are they still difficult to diagnose today?
Christine Garnier: Yes, because there are other problems that can interfere and that are other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as all epilepsy or intellectual disability disorders. And this deficiency is not detected mentally in children. We often think that it could be something other than autism.
Autism also affects adults. What are the targets to spot?
Christine Garnier: These are the same signs as in children. We must then research in early childhood to find out … if these disorders were already there! Today, of the 700,000 people diagnosed in France, there are 100,000 children. So if you tell the difference, there are 600,000 adults left. In 2007, there were 75,000 people diagnosed. There are still many adults who have not yet been detected, another 500,000 people in France!
In Côte d’Or, do you have a precise figure? How is it evolving?
Christine Garnier: If we say that there is a ratio of 1% of the population diagnosed with autism, we are approximately 5,000-5,500 people. The spectrum is very broad for autism disorders. But the Côte-d’Or is not a department more affected than the others.
And to better speak about autism, a National Congress on this disease opens this Saturday in Dijon. What’s going to happen ? What are we going to announce?
Christine Garnier: There will be no specific announcement. The interministerial delegate for autism, Ms. Claire Compagnon, will be there. There will also be speakers to illustrate the problem and provide answers.
There are interesting ongoing experiences, with work presented on the education and support of students from an early age. In particular with the so-called “Denver” method, which consists of intense support at school and with parents.
This method is already applied a lot in the schools of the Côte d’Or?
Christine Garnier: We would like it to apply in schools in the Côte d’Or, but it requires very intensive work in monitoring medico-social establishments. Today, in Côte d’Or, there are nursery education units and elementary units for people with autism, for autistic children. So you have establishments. It takes place in a school where you have teachers, schools who are there and who are accompanied by educators from the medico-social service.
The goal is to integrate the child as easily, as quickly as possible in an ordinary class.
How can we go further, to better integrate these children?
Christine Garnier: Quite simply by developing this method. Children are enrolled in a class within a school. And as they progress, their ease allows them to come into contact more easily with children from other classes.