The answer to your questions

Autism and the craif

  • Autism Resource Centers in France (Centres de Ressources Autisme or CRA) are bodies ensuring user services (for professionals, families, autistic people) related to national public policies on autism in every French region.

    The Autism Resource Center in the Paris region (Centre de Ressources Autisme Île-de-France or CRAIF) operates in Paris and the 7 departments around it. It is neither an evaluation and diagnosis institute, nor a training body in the field of autism. Its function is to coordinate information and facilitate the autism network in the whole region. It ensures those missions in conjunction with the diagnostic centers with which it is contracted ( and all its partnering stakeholders on autism in the Paris region (associations, medical-social establishments, specialist companies, training centers, etc.). It implements schemes aiming to structure and disseminate all those resources to users (reception, advice and education for professionals, project holders, autistic people and families; provision of library resources; development of digital media; development or involvement in the development of training courses for professionals ; sponsoring, creation and facilitation of various public projects).

  • Autism is not a disease, it is a disability. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting communication and social interaction. A person does not become autistic, but is born autistic. The first signs appear in infancy, or later depending on the person.

    Autism features vary widely from one person to another. That is why we call it autism spectrum disorder (ASD): all people on that spectrum experience autism to varying degrees.

    However, two typical symptoms have been identified. That is called the autistic dyad:

    • challenges in communication and social interaction
    Little or no language, unsuitable nonverbal communication, repetition of some words or phrases, poor comprehension of innuendos, humor, metaphors/idioms, difficulties expressing his/her emotions and understanding the others’ ones, discomfort in social interactions …

    • repetitive behaviors and restricted areas of interest
    Repetitive or compulsive movements, intolerance of (unexpected) change, obsessional areas of interest or activities… Those signs often come along with sensory hyper- or hyposensitivity. Autistic people can, indeed, overreact to sensory stimuli (noise, lights, smells, feel…) or, rather, be little sensitive to them.

    In parallel, autism often comes along with other impairments: sleeping or psychiatric disorders (e.g. anxiety, depression), hearing or visual impairments, learning or attention disorders (e.g. hyperactivity), impairment in sensory perception, etc. But also diseases such as epilepsy, Down syndrome, some genetic diseases (e.g. Rett syndrome, fragile X syndrome), etc. Those related disorders and diseases are called comorbidities.

    Autism is not curable. There is currently no medical treatment for it. However, multidisciplinary care tailored to every person’s needs can improve autistic people’s quality of life all along their existence.

Coming to France

    • Today, autism is not seen as a disease that could give you a chance to come to France and get treatment, if autism is not duly covered in your country.
    • If you want to come to France, you must ask your Consulate about the steps to be taken.

    For legal entry and stay for more than 3 months in France, a foreigner must have a long-stay visa (type D).

    That visa is granted by the French consular officials. It is most often issued for studies, work or family reasons. There are several types of long-stay visas depending on the purpose of the stay, its duration and the intention to ask for a residence permit for long-term settlement in France.

    Ask the French Consulate in your home country for the list of documents needed, which depends on your situation.

    • If you want to come to France in order to get treatment, there are very specific agreements concluded with France varying from one country to another.

    The existing agreements are listed in that website :  

    For example, if you live in Algeria, it is possible only if that care cannot be undertaken in Algeria. Before your departure, you must obtain the approval of your affiliated National Social Security Fund (Caisse Nationale des Assurances Sociales or CNAS) in Algeria.

    For every legal question relating to foreigners’ residence in France, you can refer to the French administration’s official websites, which can give you information about the reception facilities:


    Or you can contact the associations COMEDE and CIMADE, which provide guidance via a hotline in the region:

    Permanence Ile-de-France – partenariat Comede-Cimade

    +33 1 43 52 69 55, on Wednesdays 9h30-12h30 and 15h-17h30, on Fridays 9h30-12h30

    Backup and expertise on residence permits on medical grounds, access to care and social benefits related to medical condition of foreigners living in the Paris region. Appointment scheduling for social-legal advice and medical-legal assessments for people living in the Paris region.




  • To help you on your observations, this bibliography lists articles about the diagnosis and can bring you some comparative data.

    Our e-learning platform on autism E-flap gives you access to videos with psychiatrists explaining autism symptoms and disorders, as well as modules on the diagnosis, comorbidities and related disorders.

    It is important to know the view of other professionals. So you can contact a psychologist, speech therapist, psycho-motor therapist, ergotherapist… who can also assess the child’s capacities.

    You can call the CRA and ask to tell the doctor about your patient’s case.


    • If you are in an irregular situation, you must contact the Departmental Home for Disabled Persons (Maison Départementale des Personnes Handicapées or MDPH), the organization authorized to receive all applications related to disabilities. There is an MDPH in every French department. The competent MDPH assessing your application and providing your benefits is the one located in the department of your emergency residence (the person’s residence for at least 3 months).

    To be handled, your MDPH dossier must be administratively admissible, i.e. include the following 4 documents:

    1. the CERFA form 13788*01 (latest version in force) completed and signed, potentially along with suppporting documents.
    2. a health certificate issued on the last 6 months : Cerfa 15695*01
    3. a legible copy of an identity document. Or any other document (see the list of accepted proof documents – docx document (19,43 Ko))
    4. a legible copy of a proof of residence issued in the last 3 months.

    It is not compulsory to be a French citizen to gain access to MDPH benefits, as the French Social Security Code states (under Section L. 512-1 & L512-1).

    • If you are on French soil in an irregular situation (i.e. you have no residence permit…) and need a diagnosis along with health care, you can ask for a State Medical Assistance (Aide Médicale d’État or AME).

    The State Medical Assistance in France (Aide Médicale d’État or AME) gives entitlement to full health coverage without advancing expenses. 

    It comprises the kinds of care listed below :
    - medical and dental care ;
    - drugs reimbursed at 100%, 65% or 30% ;
    - costs of medical tests ;
    - hospital and surgery costs ;
    - costs related to some vaccinations and some screenings ;
    - costs related to contraception, interruptions of pregnancies, etc.

    For more information:




  • There are many information and training materials available online for free. Those resources are often offered by associations, public or private organizations.

    The CRAIF documentation center relays that information in bibliographies on specific topics freely downloadable from the documentary portal:

    Here are sample resources intended to make the daily life of autistic children’s carers easier:

     > 2 minutes pour mieux vivre l’autisme (How to live better with autism in 2 minutes), a gallery of 2-to-3-minute pedagogical videos to be translated into English: 

    > Capsules Trucs et astuces pour les parents d'enfants ayant un TSA (Some tricks for parents of children with ASD), presented by the South-West and Reinforcement Rehabilitation Service – CRDITED (Canada), available on the YouTube channel:

    > Participate ! L’autisme au quotidien (Participate! Autism in daily life): that association aims to improve autistic people’s and their families’ quality of life by developing training, information and awareness tools on the autism spectrum.

    It is also possible to be trained online for free through various systems. Be careful: online training courses available for free are generally not certifying or diploma courses.

    > Eflap

    In association with the Regional Health Authority of the Paris region (Agence Régionale de Santé IDF), the CRAIF recently made a free training platform available for professionals.

    If you want to discover Eflap :

    If you want to register, please send a request to the following address:

    > Canal autisme (Autism Channel)

    Canal autisme is an innovative network that aims to make inclusive education easier for autistic children by fostering free training for accompanying persons (parents, teachers, AVS/AESH, paramédicaux or any other stakeholders) on educational, behavioral and developmental methods, while creating a supportive community that engages in sharing and providing resources.

    Canal Autisme is part of an inclusion project for everyone in society without any form of discrimination or limitation related to disabilities.