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 Anita Lesko…
I was thrilled when Barb Cook invited me to be part of this book, Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism. I see this more of a movement rather than just a book. More and more females are being diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The focus has been predominantly on males on the spectrum. Now it’s our turn to get the spotlight, and be role models for the other females just getting diagnosed and for all to see how life is for us women on the autism spectrum and how we navigate the world around us.
I spent the first 50 years of my life not knowing why I’m so different and never fitted in. I always felt like I was on the outside of life looking in, trying to find the door to join the rest of the world. By chance, a co-worker’s son was diagnosed with Asperger’s, and that’s how I first heard of it. That fateful night changed my life forever. I went for a formal diagnosis three weeks later from a neuropsychologist.
I have since become an autism activist, and have done things I never dreamed possible. I had the extreme honor of speaking at the United Nations Headquarters for World Autism Awareness Day 2017. My topic was relationships and marriage. Always struggling with social issues, the thought of ever having a relationship seemed no more than an illusion. On September 26, 2015 I married my husband, also autistic, in the first-ever All-Autistic Wedding! The ceremony took place during the Love & Autism Conference in San Diego. We opened the event to the public to show that autistic individuals have the same need for love, relationships and marriage just like everyone else. It attracted international media attention including PEOPLE twice and Good Morning America! In Spectrum Women I write about relationships and marriage.
I have a full-time career for the past 30 years as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I specialize in anesthesia for neurosurgery. It’s a very high-stress job, very fast-paced and massive sensory overload. I earned my Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia from Columbia University in 1988. My husband also has a full-time career as an AutoCAD Draftsman at a large land surveying company. We’re both up at 3 am each weekday morning. Our schedule is extremely demanding, but not only do we work full time, there’s the house to maintain, and our many rescue animals to care for as well. There’s the grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning, preparation of breakfasts and lunches for the following day, lawn work, errands, paying bills, vehicle maintenance, and other odds and ends. Just like your basic neurotypical family, only we’re autistic! Oh, yes, I did forget one thing. I’m also writing books, articles for magazines, blogging, and traveling the country to speak at autism conferences with world famous Temple Grandin! In fact, my latest book, Temple Grandin: The Stories I tell My Friends, was another life-changing adventure for me. We have been invited to Italy together and will be spending several days there giving presentations, workshops, visiting cattle ranches, and hospitals!
Over the years, long before discovering I’m on the autism spectrum, I had one bad experience after another regarding health care. Since my diagnosis, I’ve met thousands of others on the autism spectrum who have had similar experiences. Research and surveys show that health care providers lack the knowledge necessary about autism to provide adequate care to this unique population. I realized that I have the power to change all this! I combined my autism with my 30 years as a medical professional to write the first-ever book on autism and health care. My goal is to have every university that trains health care providers around the world to use my book The Complete Guide to Autism & Healthcare as their bible to teach everyone about autism, how to best communicate with us, and our unique characteristics. The book also describes all the no-to-low cost methods to accommodate the health care environment to be autism friendly. I have an entire chapter in Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism about health and health issues.
I am proof that you can have it all on the autism spectrum!
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