Family Dynamics – Jeanette Purkis

January 22, 2018 Spectrum Women

Next week I m going to visit my parents. Despite having a difficult relationship in the past between us, I now love seeing them. I’m thinking how my mum will have a mango ready for my breakfast that she has specially bought and that Jalna yoghurt I like too. She has been telling me all about the shops in Beechworth that she wants to show me and the weekend will be spent just with family and friends I grew up with. Everyone will be happy to see me and ask me about what I am doing and it will be […]


With a bit of luck… Jeanette Purkis

January 5, 2018 Spectrum Women

This post is about the idea behind ‘luck’—the impact of people’s attitudes, motivation and aspirations. It is first and foremost my own experience of these things. I will preface the piece by stating that your attitude is not a determinant of good or poor character, that it is never OK to blame someone for not managing adversity well and that different people can respond vastly differently to similar things. Autistic people often find they have a negative attitude and / or a pessimistic view. Sadly this is often due to the horrors which other human beings put us through, particularly […]


Gender Identity, Sexuality and Autism — Some thoughts and reflections by Jeanette Purkis

November 29, 2017 Spectrum Women

As a child I was told I was a ‘tomboy’. I rarely wore skirts or dresses and was far more interested in toy trucks and cranes than dolls, which I was confused by. What was the point of plastic people and what was I supposed to do with them? I wasn’t interested in boys growing up and couldn’t understand why anyone would intentionally wear uncomfortable high heeled shoes. Makeup baffled me. It looked like clay on people’s faces and red lipstick just made them look like a clown — or, as I got older and knew about such things — […]


Striking a Path into Neurotypical Space – Jeanette Purkis

September 21, 2017 Spectrum Women

I am a forty-three year old Autistic woman. Like many other Autistic people I have some quite significant ‘differences’ setting me apart from my neurotypical peers. Some of these stem directly from my Autism—things like being unable to read body language or not noticing anyone’s emotions unless they tell me or give a strong hint. I don’t usually notice if someone is crying unless they are doing it loudly! I don’t ever ‘do’ eye contact. If I remember I will look at a spot on the bridge of the nose of the person I’m talking with, but more often than […]


‘Take me to your leader’ – Autism and leadership by Jeanette Purkis

September 3, 2017 Spectrum Women

Last night I was in a room full of people considered leaders—people making a difference in community work, CEOs and entrepreneurs, people with even longer CV’s than me! I was a finalist in the ACT Excellence in Leadership Awards for the second year running. As I listened to the accomplishments of all the finalists and when I heard my own biography read out, I reflected on leadership—specifically what it means to me and why it is useful in the Autism community. I jotted down a note to write a post on Autism and leadership, got my certificate and then did […]


Creativity – Jeanette Purkis

August 12, 2017 Spectrum Women

It is 2011 in the psychiatric ward at Canberra Hospital, the dingy and oppressive and thankfully now long-closed ‘PSU.’ There is a new patient, a woman who doesn’t say much, looks agitated and scared and who wanders around all night looking at the linoleum tiles which have sparkles in them. She constantly listens to music on a tiny green iPod. Her diagnosis is indeterminate at this point – Asperger’s syndrome and some kind of psychosis. Doctors say she is hard to place diagnostically. The other patients remember her coming in a few days previously, wearing a suit, nice jewellery and […]


Parental Invalidation ~ Jeanette Purkis

July 7, 2017 Spectrum Women

A good friend of mine who is the mum of one of the young women I mentor asked me to write this piece after she had witnessed another parent of an autistic teen post negative things about their child on social media without the teen’s consent. The content was something I can imagine the young person would have found monumentally embarrassing. Sadly if I recounted every instance where someone who should be a responsible adult belittles an autistic child or young person who is standing right next to them it would make quite a long and unpleasant book. This stuff […]


Making Myself Proud! – Reflections on Autistic Pride – Jeanette Purkis

June 18, 2017 Spectrum Women

Sunday June 18 is Autistic Pride Day. I usually pop an Autistic pride themed meme on social media and tell everyone to ’get their pride on’. I see myself as a proud Autistic but I never really unpacked the concept of pride and why I identify with it. It just seemed an affirming sentiment. I saw something this week which got me examining my thoughts on pride. Someone had posted on a friend’s Facebook timeline, ‘Why would you be proud of something you can’t help?’ This had me thinking – why do I say I am a proud Autistic woman? […]


Why I Write… A Spectrum Women Collaboration

June 12, 2017 Spectrum Women

Inspired by “Why I Ride”, Barb Cook’s love letter to motorcycling published in Spectrum Women in October 2016, some of the Spectrum Women Writing Team have decided to share their thoughts on their shared passion for writing… Jeanette Purkis I am Autistic and also have schizophrenia. I often joke that it was pretty much guaranteed I would end up being a writer with those two diagnoses and the creativity which so often comes along with them. I started writing young. I got to read out my poetry at school assemblies from about the age of eight. High school English was […]

Autism April

To the person who changed my life: A tribute to Polly Samuel by Jeanette Purkis

April 30, 2017 Spectrum Women

This is probably the hardest thing I have had to write so far. It is also something I desperately need and want to do. When I was asked to write this I felt conflicted. Would it be enough? Would I say the ‘right’ things? Would it do justice to the person it is written for, my first and most influential mentor? This is the sincerest of thank you’s but also an apology for not staying in touch, and not really appreciating what I was given so freely. Now that time is limited I feel I do not have enough to […]

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