The right to education is key to allow persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders to develop to the full of their potential and be included in the community. Legal instruments exist at the European level to provide children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders with adapted education according to their specific needs.
States must guarantee an effective exercise of their right to education:
- in mainstream schools, and/or
- in special schools only if inclusion in mainstream schools is not possible and if this decision is agreed with the parents.
Special schools must be linked with mainstream schools and transition between mainstream and special schools must be encouraged because the child’s situation may require both
Education must be adapted. This also means that apart from teaching academic skills, education of people with autism must include preparation for an independent life, adaptive behaviors and social skills.
Adaptive skills are critical factors in determining the supports the person requires for success in school, work, community, and home environments.
Adult education should provide the maximum range of opportunities and include:
- not only special education or participation in mainstream adult educational programs
- but also training in basic skills, self-management, living skills, at all ages (no retirement)
In order to help self-advocates, Autism Europe has published a number of information documents and toolkits.
Autism Europe has also successfully lodged the first collective complaint before the Council of Europe in 2003 against France.
Autism Europe has been actively involved in a number of projects in the field of life-long learning for persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, notably thanks to the Grundtvig and Socrates programmes (see activities section) of the European Commission.