top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Autism charities react angrily to Fillon TV interview

Fillon said 'I'm not autistic' when replying to a question on France 2

Three times over, Presidential candidate François Fillon told television viewers during an interview on France 2 last Sunday that he was not autistic. "Je ne suis pas autiste," he insisted. "I see the problems. I'm not autistic!"

Inappropriate, offensive and clichéd, his remarks have caused considerable backlash on the internet.

The Minister for Disability, Ségolène Neuville, tweeted that Fillon had made a "serious mistake" ("faute lourde") but others were not so restrained.

"We deplore his comments. We're angry and shocked, especially as in the past Fillon has been very helpful to us," said a spokeswoman from Vaincre l'Autisme association. "There is no excuse for resorting to such a stupid cliché under stress. Our president has responded via Facebook, and we are waiting for Fillon's apology!"

Other associations are also outraged. "We realise that he wasn't deliberately setting out to upset the 650,000 people in France living with this disorder," said Danièle Langloys, from Autism France. "But he associated autism with being blind to problems and oblivious to criticism."

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

His comments, she continued, reveal a complete incomprehension of autism, which is exactly what has led to the scandal of autism services in France: incorrect diagnoses, inadequate treatment options, lack of educational opportunities, lack of jobs, restricted access to social life, and a very negative image of autism throughout French society. (For more information see Connexion April 2016)

"We expect a presidential candidates to set an example, not to use words at random. We expect them all to commit to improving services for ASD children and adults, starting with a massive public information campaign, and including research into ASD discrimination, and the abandonment and general indifference suffered by autistic people and their families," said Ms Langloys.

The internet is furious, but embattled presidential candidate Fillon remains silent.

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - but also contains significant general information pertinent to readers of other nationalities - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France