Aspergers Syndrome

Morning! Im wondering if anyone here has been, or knows of anyone that has been through the diagnostic process of someone with Aspergers (unconfirmed as of yet!!) in France? Thank you ....

Do be very careful as to who, how and why your child was diagnosed with this syndrome. Our experience with our son was unfortunately an apparent rush to judgement and cost him a major part of primary schooling. We were very lucky to be able to "catch up" on the school he missed, but he will always suffer the affects of the mis-diagnostic. Just remember the syndrome is by definition "borderline" hence, our son being most likely borderline to a syndrome already borderline, are we not burning down the barn to get rid of the mice ?

Before I get back to the evening session here, I would say that Max is simply not being fed the prejudices that people also often imagine exist. They are just people at school. If integration has one strong thing going for it, that is that it puts 'difference' in front of young people who then accept it.

I absolutely agree and interestingly, Max has never said anything to me about the kids from the 'other' section joining in the mainstream for certain things. Which is great as presumably that means he sees them as being exactly the same as everyone else. (Or he is just really unobservant.....!)

That is a very interesting story Miranda. Thanks for attaching it. At present SESSAD are working with us to help our daughter get a place in secondary education. However the worker took her to the local IMP (Institut Médico Pédagogique) and told her she would be going there. She was supposed to keep that secret but came home and told us. So we feel a bit let down. Over the next couple of weeks we have visits to two colleges with ULIS and the same IMP. Our daughter wants to go where friends are going, which is quite understandable, but has a problem.

At present in her primary school CLIS there is a boy who is very physically strong and sometimes violent. The teacher was hit across the small of her back with his school bag, which is naturally quite heavy. The classroom assistant has been 'ill' since last summer and no replacement is in place. So the CLIS teacher is unable to properly cope mentally or physically. The boy will go to the IMP this autumn, so our daughter is afraid that she will be hurt by him there and does not want to even visit again. Therefore it may be necessary to have her stay back in CLIS for another year, which is what she is already doing this year. SESSAD are trying to push us to simply put her in the IMP without her consent. We both work in child research, children's rights especially, and would never do that with any child. Our daughter is afraid of her friends going to the ULIS this year without her. SESSAD do not want to support us finding a ULIS class. It is not a conflict, it is a difference of point of view. The IMP offers one and a half hours education each day whereas the ULIS follow a 'soft' form of the national curriculum. She is now reading and writing and improving quickly, but after four years here she is little advanced on where she was in Wales in real terms. Her speech therapist is absolutely with us on this but has been 'forgotten' as an invitee at two school meetings. We know that there are limited ULIS places, but that appears to be what she wants so we will do our best. It goes in circles. In these cases it is about available resources and similar things are happening to another couple of children, so we do not feel picked on. In fact we think it is not going so badly because somebody in the education department for here has said that he is supporting what we are looking for but it has to be the school's decision.

The mother of the boy who is going to the IMP is a nurse at a local hospital and is trying to move heaven and earth to keep her son out of the hands of psychiatry. She has 'insider' knowledge as her motive. Yes, he has a problem but with one to one things seem to work very well as a rule, which she is not going to get anywhere. The IMP cannot offer one to one, so she is simply fingers crossed.

So it all seems to go round and round in circles. My wife has been trying to get a university job here recently and has some applications in at present. Last weekend she told me she is thinking about withdrawing them all and that we might consider moving on - even bearing a very big loss on our house because values have sunk so much. Our other daughter does not want that at all, in fact she is afraid of that because it would be the second time she loses all of her friends. At nine that is already a big thing. So we are neither here nor there. Do not want to go, but almost cannot stay and knowing that going would be heartbreaking.

Who or what is creating the situation? Our opinion is that it is the education system rather than individuals and where the last resort is medicalisation then as it stands with autism and ADHD in particular it does not appear to give hope of any kind of support that relates back to education. We suspect that is where a socio-medical system of dealing with 'handicap' is not as good as elsewhere where special education is on offer.

It is not simply this post, but an ongoing discussion in the Franglais Kids group and the response of some professionals as well as parents in that thread. It might be great if education changes to accommodate these issues but that will not help people with these situations right now. I do not think for one minute anybody in this situation is 'France bashing', especially not French acquaintances. I imagine it is more a case of frustration with little respite. Also, it is parents being concerned for their children and that is quite natural, or not?

I am now going to have to ask anyone posting on this thread to please adhere to the "dinner party" guidelines.

If you need a reminder, they are here.

My 9 year old son is at the severe end of the spectrum (doesn't talk, still in nappies, finds life confusing and over-whelming, constant stimming, but also very loving and cuddly, outrageous giggler, understands 2 languages, and very observant and therefore really very good at resolving problems like how to swipe biscuits from a tin in a locked cupboard).

We moved here from NL when he was 5 with a diagnosis which we had translated, and our first point of contact to get him into the system was the school doctor via the area special needs teacher. He was in the CLIS for a year which was hopeless for him, but via the psychiatrist at the Hôpital de Jour, he is now at the IME.

There has never been any question of drugs, round here they seem to prefer a behavioural approach. However, my experience has been that information and options are not easily volunteered by the professionals. You need to do your homework, learn the correct French terminology and then diplomatically tell them what you want and keep reminding them until you get a result.

We are reasonably happy with the situation, but just wish the professionals were a bit more proactive.

Sorry? I would argue that you are therefore highly prejudiced and not actually reading clearly that I have said that I am taking other people's views, not my own as the basis of what I wrote. So then you resort to calling me petulant, thus the people who actually have these problems rather than my family are petulant according to the people in the particular SFN group by your judgement. We are not having any particular problems and shrug off what people who say ridiculous things, some of them supposedly specialist in work with children. Other parents of children in our daughters CLIS, all French, say the same or similar. Petulant I am not, but you appear to be in trying to come out of this ignoring other people's contributions and dismissing others. As a parent who heard a psychiatrist say, not a fairy tale at that, that Mosaic Down Syndrome is an American fantasy that she does not believe in has heard alarm bells at the very least. Of course you will now tell me that is not true, now ask some parents of ADHD children who are being told the problem is they are bad carers and that is why their children are as they are the same and my reaction will be mild in comparison.

Great! So pleased…she’s lovely. Very calm, and heart of gold. x

Things are much better these days as when my son had obvious symptoms of Aspergers this wasn't known in France and at school the teachers didn't seem to know what to do with himm as he refused to talk and had no friends at all but he got to the end with a bac s university and got a Masters in physics and maths in Veresailles which made me think that he would be able to find himself a decent job but that was when it went all wrong and he prefered to work in Auchan selling computers where he has been for the last 15 years.Brilliant brain and what a memory.Knows all the prices of every thing sold in the coputer department so I think he is happy

This may be of help - it is the personal story of a mother trying to get her autistic child into school here in France and includes some useful information and web links

Interestingly, our youngest is at a school where they have an integrated section for kids with different needs. The website isn't brilliant but you get the gist of what is going on here and it is quite the most civilised of any of the schools our three have attended.

Hi Brian,

I have a girlfriend whose child has Aspergers and most of the local schools refused to accept it, simply telling my friend that her child was not trying hard enough and 'trying to get attention.' She had to fight tooth and nail for 2 years before she got a part time special needs teacher in the class and has to fight each year for the same thing in case her daughter is 'cured' in the mean time.

Most of the information my friend found about Aspergers was from US and UK websites - with a little translation help from us.

A man I know personally here started Websourd when his son was diagnosed with deafness and he realised that the education system also considered him just 'too hard' to deal with. The 'special schools' he had to go to in the beginning indeed regrouped all sorts of students with disabilities ranging from physical handicaps to extreme mental handicaps. So handicaps are indeed often treated as ONE GREAT LUMP. You make the system - or you're out with 'the rest.'

I know you don't need defending Brian because you have personal experience, but I just thought I'd add another voice of someone who's close enough to others - French others - with similar problems to help highlight the case.

It's not a case of France bashing Cate. While French people in general will lend support, be sympathetic and point you to therapy, it's neither the education or the national health system that's best equiped to provide it at all. The teachers aren't trained to deal with special needs children. The best they can offer is 'catch up' for 'normal' kids who are lagging behind.

Other than that - we are in Toulouse, I would be happy to ask my friend where and how she had her little one diagnosed if you like Rachel.

Rachel, I'd look up and compare definitions of Aspergers in the Uk and in France. When I was studying child development, I did this for autism and it's really impressive how different perceptions can be, not to mention scary when you think of it in a little depth. If you have a GP you can talk to, explain what you need and once you're referred to the specialist, make sure you are happy with the way he/she is proceeding.

Nowadays, whatever might have been said, psychiatrists in France are first of all prescriptors, their training has been limited to it the last few years and some of them are rather indifferent prescriptors on top of it. One of the reasons is that psychiatrists in France are towards the bottom of the food chain, another of course is that pharmaceutical companies find it difficult to curb their greed, and once they've discovered a molecule, they like to have a few diseases that fit it.

If you are comfortable with it, fine, or if you HAVE TO be comfortable with it (there are sometimes serious issues with violence and/or suicidal tendencies even with young children), you just need to find the best medicator. This said, there is a lot of trial and error involved with medication, even with a straightfoward diagnosis, which is rarely the case.

If you are not, I'd say it would be a good idea to get the opinion of a specialist who works abroad, or join groups of parents who have been through the procedure and see who they recommend. Obviously, it's not because a doctor medicates that he is necessarily bad, but I have met a lot of children and young people who are following medical treatment WITHOUT a diagnosis, who have been hospitalised with serious and dangerous cases.

This said, of course there are good specialists about, you just want to make sure that you get one!

my son who is 38 suffers from a mild aspergers and just lives with it without going to see any doctors as when he started being slightly different to most kids of his age around 3yrs aspergers wasn't heard of and one of my friends who is a psy diagnosed his problem but my husband was totally against getting any help and any way the only help you need is to understand how they function and as I said his is a very "mild" version of Aspergers

Hi Rachel, I give weekly singing/music lessons to children with autism and Asperger’s at the Franco-Anglaise School run by Jacqui Walker, a wonderfully caring, sensitive and highly qualified professional in this field. She is in Grasse…may be far from you I haven’t seen where you live, but I would really recommend you phone her in the first instance on 06 42 58 16 23 or email her on
She will give you very sound advice on anything to do with Aspergers.
Jane :slight_smile:

I have absolutely no experience in this matter, but friends of ours here have a son who is diagnosed autistic, and they have given up with the French system and taken him to the UK. This seems to confirm Vicky's view that 'Aspergers and autistic spectrum disorders don't seem to be so widely understood here'.

I have had some lovely blizzards in Paris and Budapest and got here hours late last night. An early start has not given me the best of moods right now. I agree, France appears very patchy, I actually think we are getting a good run at our daughter's future. She is sharing that with us, but we also had a social worker tell her the place they went to see a couple of weeks ago is where she will be going and that it was a secret not to tell Maman et Papa, but she did. She wants to go to college with a couple of friends in the ULIS and that is probably what will happen. So really it is not a personal issue. I do not think questions arising on SFN where ideas and experiences are exchanged for good or bad are to be sniffed at. Right, teddy cuddling then off the the obligatory group dinner.

Hissy little fit, again rude. In the Franglais Kids group there is a discussion that has been ongoing since questions were raised not by me but by somebody who has been relatively desperate. So pick on me but remember you are actually challenging other people.

France works on a socio-medical basis that has a weak pedagogic element. Education and therapeutic ways of dealing with difference are discussed as foreign eccentricities when talking to some of the people here. One of the people involved in that discussion is a trained SENCO who cannot believe what is going on here.

Incidentally, I am not a semi-retired expat. I work and had a year off because of a serious health issue, so also please do not so rudely label as befits your imagination. I have no problem with alternative points of view but to dismiss something as 'bollocks' is just plain rude. You have said it but to 'revise' it that way is rather missing the point, So, my point is that you are accusing other people with your choice of words and your closing sentence dismisses the distress some people are in, As for my daughter, the 'soothing' words of hope that we would find something for her was your introduction which I took as a platitudinous way of excusing what you had just rudely said.

Look also at what Celeste is saying, her professional training and experience is far better than mine in judging these things. Dis miss them if you must but you will get little sympathy from those who are having serious issues,

Hello Rachel, if you would like to send me a friend request, I'd be delighted to pm you with what little information I can offer. My 10 year old son was with me in France for 4 years and whilst obviously intelligent, amusing and articulate ( he was pretty much bi-lingual in just 18 months) he struggled with reading & writing and was initially referred to an orthophoniste who diagnosed dyslexia/dysgraphia. An assortment of tricky circumstances ( not least his deteriorating behaviour) resulted in him returning to the UK to live with his father and where he was referred to a very well respected educational psychologist who diagnosed Aspergers. Although his problems at school here in France were initially put down to adjusting to life & school here, to be fair, once they realised that it was a little more complicated than that, they were quick to respond and he was offered a lot of additional support ( orthophoniste, educational psychologist, additional tuition etc) The main problem that we encountered was that the school really was not equipped to cope with kids that did not quite fit the mould and it was made clear to me that effectively, they thought he would be better in a less pressurised environment. We took the hint and moved him to a Rudolph Steiner school in the hope that a more relaxed style of learning might be the key. Actually nothing could have been further from the truth, the lack of structure proved to be counter productive and culminated in him losing motivation and some pretty challenging behaviour. For the last 18 months he has been attending a very small, private school in Edinburgh where the overall improvement has been spectacular, to the point where hopefully he should be able to enter secondary school at the same level if not slightly ahead of his peers. I certainly have the impression that whilst there are some very dedicated professionals, Aspergers and autistic spectrum disorders don't seem to be so widely understood here.

As a postscript, and having observed certain similarities in his emotional make up and responses, further research on Aspergers led me to this site ( Catherine, I do hope I'm ok to link this!) where I myself took the test devised by Professor Simon Baron Cohen of the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge UK. Having firstly asked a number of friends and relatives to take the test and act as a 'control', at the age of 48, my own results were pretty unequivocal!! It's certainly been a bit of a rollercoaster for both my son and I, but for us, knowledge has been power and has resulted in a much better understanding of both past & present issues and a greater ability to manage things for the future!