Meet the Spectrum Women Book Authors: Barb Cook

The Spectrum Women and authors of this book, Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, 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, on the day the book has been released to the world,  we would like to introduce you to Barb Cook…  

Today our book was released to the world, being transported by postmen on bikes, carried in vans, on trucks, via boat and carried by planes across the globe. It seems surreal that only a little over a year ago this was a thought, a moment in time of, “oh, maybe we should write a book”.  And that, we did.

Reflecting on this journey is one I will never forget for the rest of my life. I never anticipated how far this would go or how much interest there would be in a book like this.

Autistic Pride 2017 is where this book’s roots are firmly ingrained in. It was like no other evening (for me in Australia), tossing around ideas with the Spectrum Women Magazine writers as to what we should contribute for this day. As I sat back, watching the conversation grow, it became apparent we had a whole lot more to offer. Chipping in after a comment by Renata, I resounded; “you know we should write a book”. And yes, that we most certainly did.

It seems like a lifetime ago when this all began, and since this journey commenced I have evolved in so many ways. I never realised until we embarked on this mission that I could actually do something like this. I never really had much skill at organising my own life, let alone a group of individuals, who had so much to offer to the world and to somehow coordinate them all into creating this masterpiece. A gift that will comfort, validate and support so many. Yes, we all did that.

Words of Becca Lory Hector often ring true when I think of bringing this book together… “like herding cats”. It’s the best analogy to explain this coming together. We are all unique and you will find something to love about each of us in different ways. You just have to gather us all together, like a single woman with a herd of 40 cats heading to the front door…

Now what does this book mean to me? You know, we did this thing (thanks Jeanette, I had to borrow those words for a moment), and we did it incredibly well. We gave our perspectives, we gave our insights, and we gave our pain, passion and raw moments in hope to support others. We care about you. We have lived this, just like you and want you to know that anywhere in this world you don’t have to feel alone.

I felt this loneliness for many years, never had the support or insight growing up, and didn’t know why I felt like the odd one out wherever I went. I just hadn’t found the right people who also felt like me. We may feel we are the only ones that feel like this, but this is not true. And this is why we did this.

So from me and the incredible individuals I worked together with on this project with, especially M… oh hang on, just have to interrupt myself here.

M, aka Maura Campbell. This woman is one person that was my rock throughout this mission — you can hear that Mission Impossible music now can’t you — and certainly one person you would want to have with you in a very dark place. You may ask, “Why a dark place?” Well, you see, M has a sense of humour so dark that you need a torch… I did hear rumour that this is going on her epitaph.  M kept me going throughout this mission. She was there every step of the way and more and I must say I was so glad she was. That sense of humour goes a long way when you think to yourself how will I ever do this all.

Ok, now where was I… from me to you and from all of us. Take from our book a sense of hope, understanding and support. Don’t feel your life is wrong or broken, it is not. Sometimes the world is just not ready for the difference, but, it is changing and together we can help be part of this change while truly supporting each other. Together we can show people the raw truth of who we are, and that we most certainly have a place on this planet that we all call home.


About the book

Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism

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 CookMichelle Garnett

Contributions by: Jen ElchesonArtemisiaCatriona StewartAnita LeskoLiane Holliday WilleySamantha CraftJeanette PurkisKate RossBecca LoryRenata JurkevythzTerri MayneMaura CampbellDena GassnerChristine Jenkins

Foreword by: Lisa Morgan

Available now for pre-order through Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Amazon and a variety of good book stores worldwide.

Release date 21st August, 2018.

Paperback / softback / Kindle
2018, 9.02in x 5.98in / 229mm x 152mm, 336pp
ISBN: 978178592434

About Barb Cook 14 Articles
Barb Cook - Editor in Chief Formally identified on the autism spectrum along with ADHD and phonological dyslexia in 2009 at the age of 40, Barb is founder and editor in chief of Spectrum Women Magazine and editor and co-author of Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Barb is a highly committed advocate, writer, speaker and keen motorcyclist, making a variety of appearances on Australian radio, television, in newspapers and magazines and the SBS television documentary, The Chameleons: Women with Autism. She is co-founder of Bikers for Autism Australia, Community Council Member of AASET (Autistic Adults and other Stakeholders Engaged Together) and an independent autistic peer reviewer of the journal Autism in Adulthood. Recently Barb was awarded a Special Commendation in the 2017 Autism Queensland Creative Futures Awards by the Queensland Governor, his Excellency Paul De Jersey. Barb has completed a Master of Autism (Education) at the University of Wollongong (Australia) with a focus in employment. She is a Developmental Educator providing consulting, mentoring and life coaching services at the Minds & Hearts Clinic in Brisbane and workshops, webinars and presentations for the neurodiverse community. Barb was recently awarded the University of Wollongong Community Engagement Grant as part of and Community of Practice Lead for a research project "Facilitating the voice and self-determination of young adults on the autism spectrum. Barb currently rides a Suzuki V-Strom DL1000 called Ron ‘Strom’ Burgundy and implements a combination of her passion for motorcycling with her dedication in advocacy, creating acceptance and pushing for action to improve the lives for women and girls, increasing opportunities for employment for all and supporting the neurodiverse community in attaining meaningful and fulfilling futures.

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