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My story
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Education: Modern Languages, Linguistics, Psychology & Teaching

Born in Krasnoyarsk (Siberia), I graduated with honours in English/German languages; MSc Psychology and Education.

Afterwards, I went to Moscow to complete my PhD in Linguistics at Moscow State Linguistic University.

I was a Professor and Head of Linguistics Department at Gorlovka University, specialising in theoretical and practical subjects.


The baby who started the whole movement

This was my son. And during his first few years, when I began to notice his idiosyncratic development, I took him to doctor after doctor to find out what was going on. I heard the following:


  • Severe mental retardation

  • Childhood schizophrenia

  • And the final verdict from the ‘specialists': ‘Hopeless’


Only, an accidental meeting with an American psychiatrist (visiting Gorlovka) did I first hear the word: AUTISM

In 1994, the first child was diagnosed with autism in Gorlovka - Alyosha Bogdashin.

Baby who started the movememnt, autism
What is autism? Gorlovka, Ukraine


The fight to recognise autism in Ukraine

In Donetsk region (Eastern Ukraine) with a population of more than 3 million people there were NO autistic individuals diagnosed.

In fact, the absence of autism was publicly confirmed by the chief psychiatrist in Gorlovka.

Instead, undiagnosed autistic children were labelled either schizophrenic or mentally retarded, or both (as in the case of my son).

Before we could educate our autistic children, we had to educate our specialists.


First presentation of Sensory Issues

The first time I presented my hypothesis and findings on sensory perception in autism (in Russian) was at the International Autism Conference in Gorlovka in 1996. The first time in English was at the 6th International Autism-Europe Congress in Glasgow, UK (2000).

6th Autism-Europe Congress, Glasgow, UK,


Our school:

Video in Russian (subtitles in English)

Olga Bogdashina dissertation 1999


Based on my dissertation: Sensory Issues

As I learnt more and more about autism, I realised that I disagreed with certain “official” understandings of autism and especially behavioral treatments. 

At that time, people were not talking about sensory issues in autism. 

I came to the UK to work on my dissertation in Sensory Perception in Autism and Asperger Syndrome.

Now, sensory perception is in the centre of research!


Outstanding Achievements

I was presented with OpleidingsCentrum Autisme’s Award for outstanding achievements in the field of autism. (The founder and the first director of the Centre was Theo Peeters, one of the best professionals in the field and one of the most amazing persons I’ve ever met).

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mid 2000s

Growing up and moving forward

We learn from each other..

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And keep learning about ourselves...


The first school for autistic children

With a group of parents, I founded the first Autism Society of Ukraine ‘From Despair to Hope’ and Storm School – the first school for autistic children in Gorlovka, where I became its first teacher (between my lectures at the university).

The school was ‘illegal’ and not recognised by the authorities as they denied that autism existed! They claimed these children were "ineducable, unmanageable and hopeless"...

Only we didn't agree with this " official prognosis" 

autistic children, school
autistic learning at school
autistic children at a theatre production

We started here...

And in just 10 months...


"The more I learn about autism, the more I understand how little I know"

Further work in autism

Further work in autism

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Honorary Doctor - Krasnoyarsk Pedagogical University


Co-founder and Programme Leader

International Autism Institute

International Consortium of Autism Insti

Co-founder of International Consortium of Autism Institutes

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Visiting Professor in Autism Studies,

International presenter at congresses/conferences


I have been a key speaker at more than 300 international congresses and conferences


I was also fortunate to meet many amazing inspiring people, including Donna Williams, Lorna Wing, Judith Gould, Helen Irlen and hundreds of others

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Online courses

Online Courses

Online courses- International autism ins
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In 2012, I developed an online course ‘Autism Spectrum’ (2 modules) which was launched by the IAI launched as part of the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) web-based programme and offered by distance learning (2012-2014).
The programme (2012-2014) contained lectures, on-line webinars, discussions, guided reading.
There were 2 versions of the course – in Russian and in English (for the international students).

Two modules in Russian

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This course was unique as it was intended to attract a wide range of students from different countries – who wished to learn not only about autism, but also share their experiences – it helped us all to learn about the situation with understanding and treatment of autism in different countries.


In a way, was is an innovative anthropological approach to understanding of autism.


I have written 9 books (translated into 12 languages) on the following topics:

  • Sensory Issues in Autism and Asperger Syndrome

  • Communication and language in Autism and Asperger Syndrome

  • Theory of Mind

  • Constructed Realities

  • Autism and Spirituality

  • Series: Becoming a professional parent

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