Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism is now in its final stages of publication, preparing to be printed for the wide world to see by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, we, the Spectrum Women and authors of this book, felt it would be a great opportunity to tell you a little about ourselves and the reasons why we were part of this incredible project. Each Spectrum Woman has a unique story to tell and today we would like to introduce you to Samantha Craft…
There is a popular quote by American anthropologist Margaret Mead that reads: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’
Today, we are those citizens. Today, we are cultivating a community of inclusion. The authors of Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, through their heartfelt stories, are raising awareness of the neurodivergent journey and bringing us closer as a community of committed citizens. And autistics across the globe are sharing their experiences. I am honored to be part of these global efforts.
Though our shared experiences involve the spectrum of autism, our needs are the same universal needs all humans collectively share. What works for one individual, works for many; we each long to be nurtured: whether through the act of being understood and valued or being granted opportunities for voice and connection.
As I approach my fiftieth birthday, I am the most confident, secure, and content version of myself to date. Most know me from my personal writings, found in my blog and book, Everyday Aspergers, and through my works at Spectrum Suite LLC and ULTRA Testing. As a professional educator and consultant, I’ve spoken on the topic of neurodiversity around the world and continue to explore the topics of autistics and employment, self-advocacy, and self-acceptance.
Yes, I still have hard days. And, indeed, I still face intrusive thoughts and self-doubt. Despite my years of incorporating spiritual practices, my studious efforts to examine the field of psychology and neurology, and my ability to step outside of self and analyze life, my days are still compounded by anxiety—generalized anxiety, anticipatory anxiety, anxiety caused by a connective tissue disorder, PTSD, etc. You name it.
Ironically, I am the lead employee for creating and teaching a Reducing Stress and Anxiety workshop at my job this month! At least I am aware of my triggers. And, fortunately, I have moved past the shame I once carried of having and experiencing ongoing anxiety.
The reality of being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in my early-forties assisted in my journey of self-acceptance and self-understanding. Knowing I was ‘different’ for a reason, and that others were ‘different’ too, was cathartic. Discovering the coexisting conditions that accompany my autism—such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, and object permanence, working memory, and sensory challenges—and coping mechanisms, brought me further peace of mind. The ‘knowing’ slowly shifted my perception of self . . . that, and my correspondence with over 10,000 beautiful-minded neurodivergents.
Part of my self-assurance is a byproduct of my efforts to be a beneficial parent to my three sons—now ages 16, 19, and 21. (I still can’t believe my ‘baby’ is driving!)
For the most part, the way my brain is wired has prepared me to be an effective and nurturing mother. My nature lends itself well to parenting. I care. And I care deeply. I listen. I empathize. I relate. I do my best to ease a person’s discomfort. I study and analyze and put into place practices that I hope will enhance my life and others. Above all, I remember how hard it was to be a kid, to face roadblocks in youth, and to grow up and face the realities of this world.
I recently did a talk for an autism conference in Mumbai, India. The focus was on the 5 A’s of Inclusion—a concept I developed. Interestingly enough, although the discussion focus was on workplace and community inclusion, in examining my script, I realized that much of what I introduced is akin to the exact practices I implemented in raising my children.
Practice transparency in word and action
Instill a sense of safety and approachability
Practice predictable and respectful actions
Keep your word
Remain well studied in best communication practices
Encourage engagement and autonomy
Pave the way for safe and mature discussions
Remain open, present, and available
Clarify differing perspectives
Provide a place at the table that truly matters for everyone
One of the attributes I admire most about autistics is our tendency toward striving to be the best version of self as possible. Many I have encountered uphold themselves to high ideals and are driven toward authenticity and transparency.
The chapter I contributed to in Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism delves into my life: that of an autistic mother raising three children, one child whom is on the autism spectrum. I share the ups and downs of parenting, as well as what I think worked and what I’m still working on. My hope is that I shed some light on the parenting gifts of an autistic person, the challenges we, on the spectrum, encounter, and how daily obstacles can be turned into daily strengths.
Samantha’s website: myspectrumsuite.com
Barb Cook and 14 other autistic women describe life from a female autistic perspective, and present empowering, helpful and supportive insights from their personal experience for fellow autistic women. Michelle Garnett’s comments validate and expand the experiences described from a clinician’s perspective, and provide extensive recommendations.
Autistic advocates including Liane Holliday Willey, Anita Lesko, Jeanette Purkis, Artemisia and Samantha Craft offer their personal guidance on significant issues that particularly affect women, as well as those that are more general to autism. Contributors cover issues including growing up, identity, diversity, parenting, independence and self-care amongst many others. With great contributions from exceptional women, this is a truly well-rounded collection of knowledge and sage advice for any woman with autism.
The Authors: Edited by: Barb Cook, Michelle Garnett
Contributions by: Jen Elcheson, Artemisia, Catriona Stewart, Anita Lesko, Liane Holliday Willey, Samantha Craft, Jeanette Purkis, Kate Ross, Becca Lory, Renata Jurkevythz, Terri Mayne, Maura Campbell, Dena Gassner, Christine Jenkins
Foreword by: Lisa Morgan
Release date 21st August, 2018.
Paperback / softback / Kindle
2018, 9.02in x 5.98in / 229mm x 152mm, 288pp