Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder. Autistic children are included in the group of children with special needs who hold a mental disability card and enjoy the right to education guaranteed by the Tunisian Ministry of Education under the appropriate conditions, while respecting the foundations of educational programs through the process of school integration for children with special needs.
School integration is a complex and multidisciplinary mechanism that aims to integrate children with special needs in schools and educational institutions to protect the child’s right to education. This can be achieved through procedures organized by official circulars and integration committees shared by the various concerned ministries.
This process takes place thanks to school integration committees that are held periodically and where multidisciplinary members participate from the various regional administrations of the:
• Ministry of Health
• Ministry of Education
• Ministry of Social Affairs
The Tunisian state provides children with ASD, like the rest of children with special needs, with procedures that aim to facilitate the process of their school and social integration at the same time.
The Tunisian state also provides, within the availability of appointments in public institutions in different states:
A free diagnosis of the disorder within state institutions:
In most states, the school and university medical center provides the medical staff (general practitioners, psychiatrists, professional psychologists, speech therapists and specialized educators…) and the necessary tools to diagnose this disorder.
The psychiatrist who is following up on the case assigns a medical certificate for the purpose of school integration with a request to provide a mental disability ID card.
The guardian submits a request for the purpose of school inclusion in the regional department of the ministry of social affairs in order to obtain a mental disability ID card.
The mental disability ID card offers many privileges for a child with ASD (which will be assigned to them even if there is no mental retardation) as follows:
• Protection from physical and psychological attacks by the family, the external environment and the educational framework
• Free transportation on public transport
• The possibility of obtaining grants and loans from the Ministry of Social Affairs to finance small projects with follow-up and briefing
The school integration of the child must be done before the age of 9 years then his path is divided into two age stages:
Before the age of 16: the school mainly requires school and/or social integration, fully or partially, or within an institution for integration that is under the jurisdiction of the regional department of social affairs: for instance, a public or semi-public association or a private center. But the main goal remains the social integration of the child into an educational institution until he reaches the age of 16 years during which he can develop his abilities and skills and graduate as a qualified member for professional or vocational training.
After the age of 16: This phase aims at rehabilitation and training the child for professional life and financial independence.
This rehabilitation is based on the child’s school years and his ability to receive new information. The child is offered many options according to his academic and cognitive level, his social, cognitive, and linguistic abilities and the skills acquired during his years in school or in an association or in an integration center that works on developing these skills in children with autism spectrum disorder.
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