Barb Cook Editor in Chief
A dedicated autism advocate, speaker, writer, keen motorcyclist and graphic designer, Barb was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2009 at the age of 40. As editor in chief of Spectrum Women Magazine, Barb created a platform and voice in bringing greater acceptance, understanding and validation for autistic women and identifying females. This has seen the expansion into an upcoming book, Spectrum Women, a collaboration of autistic women from across the globe, bringing their personal journeys and insights on life, autism and everything in between.
Barb appeared in the SBS documentary The Chameleons: Women with Autism in 2015 that has encouraged more adult women to seek a diagnosis after a resonating connection.
Founder of the not for profit organisation Bikers for Autism Australia, Barb combines her passion for motorcycling with fundraising to directly help individuals and families on the autism spectrum.
Barb’s belief is we all deserve to have the opportunity to live a happy and fulfilling life and to be accepted for our individuality.
Barb’s full bio can be found here.
Jen Elcheson – Feature Writer
Jen was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 1998, back when very few people were diagnosed, let alone females. She has devoted her life to supporting and mentoring children on the spectrum. She currently works as an Education Assistant for the public school system, and as an assistant caregiver at a small daycare. Jen also runs an online support group, has written articles for AAN magazine, and is a lifelong music fan, especially metal and classic rock. Jen lives in northern British Columbia in Western Canada with her two ball pythons.
Maura Campbell – Feature Writer
Maura is from Northern Ireland. She lives with her husband Stephen, her son Darragh, Ash the assistance dog and Baz the cat in the rolling countryside of County Down. She is a senior manager in the Northern Ireland Civil Service and served as a board member of Specialisterne NI from 2014-2016. Maura has spoken publicly about autism in both a personal and professional capacity and guest lectures at the University of Ulster once a year. She was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2011 when she was 44 years old. Like many adults on the spectrum, she sought the diagnosis after learning that her son had autism .
Jeanette Purkis – Feature Writer
Jeanette Purkis is an autistic author, public speaker and autism advocate who also has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She has worked full-time in the Australian Public Service since 2007 and has a Masters degree in Visual Arts. She is the author of three books on elements of autism and hosts an internet radio show. Jeanette has presented at TEDx Canberra in 2013 and at many autism events and conferences, including alongside Temple Grandin in 2015. Jeanette has been facilitating a support group for women on the autism spectrum in Canberra since 2011. Jeanette was the 2016 ACT Volunteer of the Year and a finalist in the 2017 ACT Woman of he Year awards.
Renata Jurkevythz – Feature Writer
Renata is a 37 year old Aspie, diagnosed in 2016. Mother of three, a 11 year old Aspie girl, 4 year old classic autistic boy and a little baby boy. She learned of her neurology after her son was diagnosed and she started to look deeper into autism, recognizing herself in the process. This followed with the diagnosis of her daughter. She believes different brains as just different, all with positives and negatives – there isn’t a wrong one. Originally from Brazil, Renata and her family recently moved to Germany. Her special interests are writing, learning languages, games and movies. Contact with nature brings her peace. Her goals are to keep helping others on the spectrum through writing and later as a psychologist, as she intends to go back to college.
Christine Jenkins – International Correspondent
Christine is a certified voice teacher, trained singer and former radio producer with a degree in journalism who also gives piano lessons on her century-old grand. Ms. Jenkins is a peer mentor to many women who suspect they are on the spectrum. Her current special interests are research into and widespread use of female diagnostic tools, avoidance of misdiagnosis, and wellness for senior autistics. She speaks at conferences and was interviewed by CBC radio and the Ottawa Citizen. Christine co-founded the Asperfemme support group that hosted their first women’s conference in 2013. Late diagnosed in 2008, she estimates she is in Philip Wylie’s 8th of 9 Stages of Autism, Unconditional Service to Society. Christine speaks French and German (Swiss heritage), loves writing, reading, sewing, hiking, canoeing, tea and cats. www.facebook.com/CJenkinsMusic
After working as a software engineer for a few years in the mid-eighties, Lisa stayed home after her first child was born for the next thirteen years homeschooling her kids. Now, four kids later and a master’s degree in the Art of Teaching, she has taught in different school settings for 15 more years. After experiencing the loss of her husband of 29 years to suicide, Lisa authored, Living Through Suicide Loss with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Now, Lisa, an autistic adult diagnosed late in life, has become an advocate for other autistic adults who have had similar experiences. She has started a conversation with several nonprofit organizations in the US to help enhance the suicide prevention and postvention resources to be a better fit for autistic adults, as well as, to spread awareness of the resources available to the autism community.
Becca Lory, CAS, BCCS
Becca was diagnosed on the autism spectrum as an adult and has since become an active advocate and life coach for individuals on the autism spectrum. Becca has published multiple articles along with speaking publicly about life on the autism spectrum with the goal of spreading acceptance, understanding, and encouraging self-advocacy. She spent four years supporting the autism community in the non-profit sector in her work for grass-roots organizations that provide resources and services directly to individuals on the autism spectrum, their families, and the professionals who work alongside them. Becca left non-profit to pursue dual certifications as an Autism Specialist (CAS) and Cognitive Specialist (BCCS). She now provides supports directly to the autism community as a life coach and by teaching improvisational workshops geared toward assisting teens and adults on the spectrum with the practice of social and independent living skills. She continues her advocacy work through her blogs, public speaking engagements, and the weekly podcast that she co-hosts. Becca is honored to sit on the Advisory Board of the Nassau-Suffolk chapter of the Autism Society of America and the Board of Directors of Different Brains. No matter her role, Becca is dedicated to guiding and supporting individuals on the autism spectrum with unwavering passion and commitment.
Originally from New York State, Kate studied Psychology & Social Sciences and earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University at Buffalo before relocating to England in mid-2008. She changed careers in 2013 from Social Care to Special Educational Needs & Disabilities, where she quickly developed a special interest in Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome. After being recommended Rudy Simone’s book Aspergirls in July 2015, her perception and understanding of herself changed and “everything suddenly made sense”. Kate received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition in August 2016.
Nelle is a parent, special needs Educator, Sensory and Social Skill Program Facilitator and Consultant. Through these roles she has gained extensive insight and experience with children, teens, young adults and mature and elderly individuals with Autism. Nelle focuses on decoding sensory-driven behaviours and understands that sensory input significantly contributes to all behaviours displayed by those on the spectrum.