At the request of a group of parents of autistic children, and with the guidance of Ukrainian scientist and academician Dr. Oleg Maltsev, comprehensive research in the field of clinical psychology of autism started at two research institutes: The Memory Institute and International Schicksalsanalyse Community Research Institute.
Today, there are many opinions about what is autism and how to deal with it. Some say it is an illness, some think it is a disturbance and for some autism is about special abilities. Currently, no one has been able to comprehensively explain the way autism originates. Causes of autism are unknown, its structure is unknown and there is no clear understanding of what can be done with people diagnosed with it.
A brief history of autism: History takes us back to 1894, the year when Leo Kanner was born. He was born in a small town on the border of Western Ukraine and Hungary, and was the first to describe childhood autism. In 1943 Kanner published his book “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact”. And in 1944, his colleague Hans Asperger published his work: „Autistic psychopathy in childhood.“ These two books are considered to be fundamental, even today these sources are being referenced to by all specialists and researchers working with this problem. However, while awareness is greater today than in 1944, it cannot be said that science has made great progress in understanding autism.
Today there is a characteristic triad, if a child demonstrates these three phenomena in childhood from 1.5 to 3 years, he or she is diagnosed with autism.
1) Lack of social interactions. An autistic child demonstrates absence of necessity to organize any social interactions.
2) Disrupted mutual communication. It is often said that it is difficult to put a message across these kids. For example, parents are trying to convey something to their child, but he or she demonstrates a total lack of contact.
3) Repeated pattern of behavior (limited interests). Autistic children do the same things, and they have a certain desire to organize something. For instance, they can sort toys by color or size, from large to small, etc. Such behavior is not observed in what are considered “normal children” as is generally thought in the modern society; they somehow socially interact somehow with one another.
In terms of the diagnosis, autism as a concept was only established in the 1980s. Until 1982, children with such symptoms were considered schizophrenic and they received treatment for schizophrenia. Today, in modern science, it is called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). With each passing year there is an increasing number of children born with autism as well as an increasing number of different approaches in an attempt to cure autism, however, autistic people do not consider themselves to be ill.
Dr. Maltsev, scientist and head of the Memory Institute, suggested to look into autism as a form of relationship with the world.
Take a look at a human being within the context of a life timeline, where we see two terminal points: birth and senility. Interestingly, there are two intractable diseases – autism early in life and Alzheimer’s disease in old age. Symptoms of these diseases are identical, the only difference is that they appear at different times. The question: why do we see certain symptomatology at the beginning or at the end of life?
Before starting our research, we first looked into the paradigm of the memory doctrine founding father, academician Grigory Popov: oblivescence (forgetfulness) coefficient. Every human being has the forgetfulness coefficient “embedded” in the memory system. We use it automatically and do not even think about it: we remember certain things, but forget other things unconsciously classifying them as unnecessary.
Forgetfulness coefficient is an unexplored abyss, it is a key phenomenon that must be addressed in the frameworks of the autism study.
The key to autism lies precisely in the forgetfulness coefficient, due to the fact that autistic children start “forgetting” how to talk, how to walk, or rather unlearn to walk.
Let’s look at an example. There are people who learned to play the guitar as a kid, and after say 20 years, during which they did not even hold a guitar, they would be able to play the instrument, clumsily, but they remember how to play. The fact is that even after 10, 20 years they still have the skill, even if it is not as good as it was.
What do we see on the example of autistic kids who learned to talk and walk, and at some point allegedly unlearned those skills? Neurophysiologists consider learning to walk to be an easier skill than learning how to speak. Usually one learns how to walk 1-2 years on average, but it takes 20 years to fully learn how to speak a language. Motor and speech functions are completely different. Why? There are some people who are good at explaining, but lack the ability to implement a certain skill, while on the other hand, there are people who know how to perform functions, yet cannot explain it to anyone else.
The most difficult skills for a child are to learn how to walk and speak. The child is evaluated solely based on these two categories. Unfortunately, experts do not take into account other factors.
Dr. Maltsev introduced the following key concept: the “point of no return” and we believe it is another key to understanding autism. It happens in the case when one learns a foreign language, but does not practice it and several years later he or she finds that they almost completely forgot it. What happened? The person did not pass the point of no-return of the skill.
One may ask, where is this point of no return? As it was mentioned before, a baby learns how to walk in about 2 years on average, but it takes 20 years to master a language. When it comes to motor skills, the point of no return stands closer in comparison to a linguistic skill. However, in an autistic person, this point of no return begins to shift, when in reality it should not not move at all. This is the reason why an autist might “unlearn” how to walk and how to speak. At the same time, autistic person does not stop being capable of learning, he may even pass once again the point of no return in regards to a specific skill, but it might shift again to initial position.
Autism is a shift of the point of no return.
In the frameworks of the study, academician Dr. Maltsev will conclude and describe the mechanism of autism occurrence, and the method of dealing with autism will be constructed. It is also planned to write a two-volume monograph, the first part of which will contain explanations, and the second will be a set of data on how to manage it.
In the beginning of August a closed seminar was held at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences on „Autism as a form of attitude towards the world“, which presented Dr. Maltsev’s research on this issue. In addition, one of the tasks of the study is: „How to manage autism to make a child a fully functional and integrated personality?“.
“Autism is incurable until we know what can be done about it.” PhD. Oleg Maltsev
Note: This piece gives a brief overview of the research in clinical psychology. We do not provide the treatment. At the end of the research a concrete method is going to be constructed, that will allow parents to apply it on their own to bring up a fully functional, healthy kid. While studying the materials, everybody has an opportunity to ask questions (and receive Skype consultations upon request). To get an access to video materials of the study on autism please contact Kanykei Tursunbaeva [email protected]