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 Kate Ross…
When Barb Cook asked me if I wanted to contribute to the book, I was simultaneously excited beyond belief and extremely humbled. Nobody knows me… what does anyone care about what I have to say about my experience of being an undiagnosed female until age 31? My overall life experience wasn’t too extraordinary… but if anything, I wanted to give back to the literary community which helped me so much while I was in the research stages of my diagnostic journey.
My autism journey started on 19th June 2015 in a quite unexpected way: at The Autism Show in Birmingham. I was attending for continuing professional development purposes, as I was working as a Special Educational Needs Casework Officer at the time. I had put together a timetable for myself prior to the event which included a few women talking about their experiences of late diagnosis in adulthood. One speaker’s story in particular resonated especially strongly with me, that of Katherine Uher (https://thesensitivityspectrum.com/).
Over the remaining few hours of the first day, my mind was racing… could I be autistic too? Could that explain why I’ve felt like I never fit in all my life? Could that explain all my sensory issues? I approached Katherine as the event hall was shutting down for the evening and broke down into tears; I couldn’t process what questions I wanted to ask in the short space of time that I had available without inconveniencing this woman. She was so kind and offered to have a chat over a bite to eat as she had some time before her train home.
We chatted about several different things and I asked what Katherine would recommend in terms of doing more research for myself. The first book she recommended to me was Aspergirls by Rudy Simone (now known as ARtemisia). As we parted ways, I thanked her profusely and returned to my hotel room and downloaded Aspergirls to my Kindle and started reading… I was blown away by what I read… I started highlighting sentences in the Foreword.
As I read the book, I started writing a Word document with either a few sentences or a paragraph about a particular point, referring back to a bit of the book I’d read and explaining my personal experience; by the time I finished the book, that Word document ended up being 27 pages long. This document supported my request for an assessment through the National Health Service (NHS – in the UK). In the intervening time, I started writing my own blog as a way to offload the highflying thoughts in my mind (https://IAmMyOwnExperience.com/). By the 11th of August 2016, I received the validation I sought — I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Condition.
On the same day, I signed up for the International Aspergirl Society — I did not realise beforehand that I could sign up without official diagnosis, but it felt appropriate for me to sign up on the same day that I received the official confirmation. Having my first Skype session with Rudy Simone on 10th September was incredible — I did my best not to ‘fangirl’ out too much! — because getting to thank the woman whose book made such a positive impact on my life was invaluable. We clicked over that hour and she asked if I would like to become an ambassador for the IAS in England — needless to say, I was gobsmacked and agreed without reservation! Rudy shared my blog on the IAS website and introduced me to the fellow ambassadors. This is how I met Barb, as she was acting as VP of the IAS… and as they say, the rest is history.
In the book, I dipped my metaphorical pen into a few different topics, as I felt that I was best placed sharing a bit across several areas rather than focusing too much into one area exclusively. I delved into the areas about sensory seeking/avoiding and processing, Theory of Mind and how it impacts relationships, Task Inertia (as part of Executive Functioning), puberty & periods (as part of Health & Wellbeing), and common sleep problems with suggested solutions. I hope that the readers of our book find our collective contributions helpful, insightful and relatable; we don’t see ourselves as any different as any other Spectrum Woman, and that’s why we wrote our book the way we did — so other Spectrum Women can find the validation they’ve sought over a lifetime in one place.
Prior to 19th June 2015, if you’d have told me I’d become a published author after being diagnosed as autistic, I would have thought you were playing a cruel prank. As I write this now, I am still humbly disbelieving, but very excited for this book to be released and to hopefully help other women as Aspergirls helped me.
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
Release date 21st August, 2018.
Paperback / softback / Kindle
2018, 9.02in x 5.98in / 229mm x 152mm, 288pp