France: Mums on 'hunger strike' over autism care

Mothers in France are resorting to hunger strikes in a bid to get the treatment they want for autistic children, it seems.

One parent recently ended a 12-day period without food after securing a meeting to review her teenage son's care, according to regional daily Ouest France. It highlights a second case, that of Jacqueline Tiarti. She says children like her daughter Melissa, seven, are "given too many drugs and vegetate all day". She wrote on Facebook: "Thank you, my country, for having pushed me into a hunger strike to claim the rights of my daughter and those of thousands of autistic children."

The row revolves around the French medical establishment's insistence on using psychoanalysis, rather than educational or behavioural therapy. The latter stimulates and rewards children to help them develop life skills and that is preferred in many countries. Even French Federation of Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis president Pierre Canoui understands people's "exasperation", it seems. "It is impossible to find trained educators or places in institutions," he tells Ouest France, which bemoans the "endless waiting lists" for such care.

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