Svetlana Bulatova’s documentation of a Russian summer camp for autistic adults

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Situated along the banks of Russia’s Vuoksi River, the annual camp provides a rare space for educational support. This World Autism Day, Bulatova shares her documentation of it

Anton’s Right Here Center is one of the few organisations in Russia that provides support for people on the autistic spectrum. According to the organisation, until recently, there were no official statistics on autism in Russia. A 2011 study by the Firefly Children’s Network, a Russian organisation for disadvantaged children, found that many medical professionals were unfamiliar with the disability, and children who visited doctors with symptoms of autism often did not receive the right diagnosis or treatment. 

In July 2019, Svetlana Bulatova traveled to Losevo, a small village on the banks of Russia’s Vuoksi River, to document an annual summer-camp for autistic adults. Organised by Anton’s Right Here Center, which also runs a separate camp for children and their families, the camp aims to help participants move towards a more independent lifestyle. In Russia, where there is limited medical and financial support, and few statistics on the prevalence of autism, it  provides a rare space for freedom and learning. 

Bulatova attended the week-long camp, photographing 15 participants, aged 18 to 40, and the volunteers. The motto of the Anton’s Right Here center is: Help us to help them. Help them to help you. “It resonated with me,” says Bulatova. “After a week, I left with the reminder that each person has a right to a place where they can be themselves. By accepting others, in the end, you accept yourself.”

Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.