Formally identified on the autism spectrum along with ADHD and phonological dyslexia in 2009 at the age of 40, really did give that statement ‘life begins at 40’ a whole lot more depth and meaning. For me it was literally a whole new beginning of setting my life on a path of self-discovery, self-advocacy and personal empowerment.
I am editor and co-author of the exciting new book, Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, covering never before published insights of life for women on the autism spectrum. Together with 14 fellow autistic women, we bare our heart and souls to the reader, providing valuable information, validation, support and advice. Working together with Dr Michelle Garnett, clinical psychologist of over 20 years in autism spectrum conditions, makes this book a well-rounded publication that fills a large gap between the personal and the professional. This book is a must read for women of all ages, and will make you laugh, cry, feel validated, but most importantly, you will never feel alone again.
Prior to embarking on this book, and, this is where the inspiration for the book evolved from, is Spectrum Women Magazine, an online publication, for and by autistic women, that I founded in 2016 to which I am editor-in-chief. This publication is one of my passions in providing trustworthy, relevant and credible information and a platform for fellow autistic women to have a voice. Autistic women from around the globe can write about their experiences, feel validated in reading and recognising themselves in others; a need that so many had been without for far too long. Nearing on a million unique readers per year, this online presence is certainly reaching to the many women and identifying women around the world.
I’m also a highly committed autism 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. Co-founder of Bikers for Autism Australia, and Community Council Member of AASET (Autistic Adults and other Stakeholders Engaged Together) that provides advice and input into the areas of research on autistic health. I am an independent autistic peer reviewer of the journal Autism in Adulthood.
I have completed a Master of Autism (Education) at the University of Wollongong (Australia) in the areas of education and employment and was jointly awarded the 2018 Community Engagement Grant for Facilitating the voice and self-determination of young adults on the autism spectrum. I am also a university tutor in Positive Behaviour Support and assessment in the Master of Autism program.
Currently I ride a Suzuki V-Strom DL1000 called Ron ‘Strom’ Burgundy and he is most certainly one of the major loves of my life. He definitely keeps my anxiety levels in check by taking me out on adventurous rides around the countryside. I implement the combination of my passion for motorcycling with my dedication in autism advocacy, in creating acceptance and pushing for action to improve the lives for neurodiverse individuals.
I was awarded a Special Commendation in the 2017 Autism Queensland Creative Futures Awards by the Queensland Governor, his Excellency Paul De Jersey and spoke at the World Autism Organisation Congress 2018 in Houston Texas and more recently, keynoted for a special event “A Woman’s Voice: Understanding Autistic Needs” for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) in Washington DC, USA.
Barb Cook’s achievements and accomplishments span a wide and lengthy array in supporting neurodiverse individuals. If you would like to engage with Barb in personal mentoring, business consulting, speaking events, writing articles, media time or feel she would be of help to you in some way, please email Barb via her contact page here for a personal discussion of your needs.
Listed below is some of Barb’s work and achievements:
Textbook: Treatment on the Spectrum: Diverse Interventions for Adolescent and Adult Clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Eds. Dr Rachel Bedard & Dr Lorna Hecker. Publisher: Routledge Press. www.routledge.com UK. Contribution to section 7: Job preparation, readiness and resources. Contribution title: Working Together: Empowering the Autistic Voice. Fellow contributors to section 7: Dr Temple Grandin & Dr. Sara Colorosa. Release date TBC.
7th September – Event: Navigating the Social World on the Autism Spectrum: Friendships, Romance & Bullying. Presentation topic: Positive Relationships on the Autism Spectrum. University of Wollongong, NSW.
16th August – Day Workshop. Empowerment on the Autism Spectrum Workshop. Joint workshop with Yenn Purkis. Penrith RSL, NSW
27th July – ABC Breakfast 24 hours news. Barb Cook, Autism & Employment ABC 24 Hour News with Johanna Nicholson & Josh Szeps. https://vimeo.com/350463437?fbclid=IwAR0GLYZI2Rp6R5WBTS7T3bimUuIvJfF4s2-ZCPy4n_35X4-4_J0mmYXc46Q
31st May – Neurodiversity & Employment Symposium Keynote speaker. Topic: Harnessing the Power of ADHD: Being the Executive of Functioning. Brisbane, QLD
23rd April – Washington DC, USA – IACC Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee – US Department of Health & Human Services
NIMH Special Event for Autism Awareness Month: A Woman’s Voice: Understanding Autistic Needs
Opening keynote speaker and a panel participant with Liane Holliday Willey, Jennifer O’Toole and Dena Gassner. Speaking on autistic women’s needs on a variety of topics. Link to video of full event here: https://iacc.hhs.gov/meetings/autism-events/2019/april23/spectrum-women.shtml
8th March – NDIS International Women’s Day Event, Rockhampton, QLD Panel discussion.
On International Women’s Day, join us for a discussion of issues facing local women with disability. NDIS LAC Partner in the Community Carers Queensland will be joined by author and autism awareness advocate Barb Cook, mental health lived experience academic Dr Louise Byrne, and representatives from local services. Our discussion will be followed by live music, morning tea, and a chance to chat and learn from each other.
19th February – Moderator for international best-selling author Graeme Simsion and Professor Tony Attwood, The Rosie Result book launch, Brisbane Powerhouse.
4th January – The Independent Newspaper (UK) Spectrum Women Walking to the Beat of Autism – Number 1 book on autism, INDY/BEST BUY https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/books/best-books-about-autism-a8712096.html
22nd November – Autism and Gender Workshop, Gympie Qld. Four hour joint presentation with Nelle Frances.
14th November – World Autism Organisation Congress 2018 (WAO2018) Houston, Texas. Presentation with Becca Lory. Pedals and Paws: Creating Strength Based Supports in Adulthood from Special Interests/Enthusiasms.
13th November – Association of University Centers on Disabilities – AUCD 2018: We All Belong Here. AASET panel discussion. Washington DC.
3rd October – 2018 Community Engagement Grant, University of Wollongong. Project: Facilitating the voice and self-determination of young adults on the autism spectrum.
10th September – Jessica Kingsley Publishers Blog: An introduction into the internationally acclaimed book, Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism.
30th August – Presentation at ASPECT Autism in Education Conference: The Personal Empowerment of Goal Setting For Autistic Learners Within Inclusive Learning Environments
21st August – Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism book is released. Jessica Kingsley Publishers ISBN 9781785924347 pp336
30th June – One hour presentation at the University of Wollongong: Understanding Gender Differences in Employment for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
6th June – The dark history of Hans Asperger emerges, the doctor the disorder was named after — Mamamia
12th February – Manuscript completed for Spectrum Women — Walking to the Beat of Autism (Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2018)
1st December: Autism Queensland Creative Futures Recognition Awards with the Governor Paul De Jersey at Government House Queensland – Awarded Special Commendation for Individual Achievement The Governor’s Speech at the event, click here.
14th November: Article SWM: Why are they so mean?
2nd October Article SWM: Meaning of Life—an over-thinker’s guide to the universe
15th August Interview Autism West: Barb Cook on the Autism Gender Gap, Being a Chameleon and Finding Your Tribe
2nd August Article Autism West: Autistic Pride: Be Unashamedly You – Barb Cook
28th July Article SWM: My Safe Space – Barb Cook
3rd July: Signed book contract with Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Titled Spectrum Women
26th June: Interview with Becca Lory Spectrumly Speaking – A Different Brains Podcast: Autism Advocacy in Australia, with Barb Cook of Spectrum Women Magazine | Spectrumly Speaking ep. 13
13th June Article SWM: Why I Write… A Spectrum Women Collaboration
27th May: Podcast interview with Jeanette Purkis for Positively Autistic Jeanette’s Autism Show
23rd May: AASET – Autistic Adults and other Stakeholders Engaged Together – Community Council Member
2nd March: Interview Lisa Morgan Author: Living Through Suicide Loss – A Conversation with Author Lisa Morgan
17th October: Article SWM: Why I Ride…. In the Beginning…. Aspie Biker Chick
1st September: Interviewed Michelle Vines Author: Asperger’s on the Inside – A Candid Interview with Author Michelle Vines
20th June: Spectrum Women Magazine: Official launch
30th May: Australian Ambassador for the International Aspergirl Society: Founded and presided over by Atremisia (formerly Rudy Simone), author, singer and songwriter
30th August: Inaugural Bikers for Autism Australia Charity Ride Sunshine Coast Qld: Beneficiary the Wemyss Family $600 raised
28th August: Motorbike Writer Article: Bikers for Autism ride for struggling family http://motorbikewriter.com/bikers-for-autism/
21st May: ABC Sunshine Coast Radio Interview with Annie Gaffney: Discussion on Women with Autism
5th May: SBS Mini Documentary The Chameleons: Women with Autism: We often hear about autism in men, but rarely in women. The Feed (SBS) looks at three different generations of women living with autism and how the stigma of the condition is amplified by gender.
1st October 2014 ANCA Awards: Naturally Autistic People’s Award. Community Achievement Award 3rd place.
3rd April: Aspect National Recognition Awards Sydney: Finalist in two categories.
16th March: 30+ regional Australian newspapers: Article – For Barb, Autism is now a career. A DIAGNOSIS of Aspergers syndrome at the age of 40 has led Pomona’s Barb Cook to a career in international magazine publishing and a short-listed nomination for Aspect National Recognition Award. http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/for-barb-autism-is-now-a-career/2199931/
18th February: 98five Sonshine FM Radio: Talking about International Aspergers Day
16th February: Book Endorsement for Been There, Done That Try This – Tony Attwood, Craig Evans & Anita Lesko
Been There. Done That. Try This! – An Aspie’s Guide to Life on Earth
Edited by Tony Attwood, Craig R. Evans and Anita Lesko
Been There. Done That. Try This! gathers a team of top Aspie mentors to pass along insights for successful living to the next generation. Temple Grandin, Liane Holliday Willey, and many others, offer advice on coping with key stressors including anxiety, self-esteem, careers, and friendship. Each chapter ends with commentary from Dr. Tony Attwood.
‘Resonating profoundly with my own difficulties, the Aspie mentors within this book validate our challenges from their personal experiences. By giving positive practical advice, the Aspie mentors better equip us for many aspects of our everyday living. This is an outstanding guide that every Aspie should own!’
– Barb Cook, Editor-in-Chief of Autism Aspergers Network Magazine and co-founder of Australian Autism Aspergers Network Inc
4th February: Book Endorsement – The Wonderful World of Work – Jeanette Purkis
The Wonderful World of Work – A Workbook for Asperteens
Jeanette Purkis, illustrated by Andrew Hore
Full of practical information, engaging activities, fun illustrations and inspiring personal stories, this hands-on workbook demystifies the world of work to help teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder feel confident in their ability to get a job and encourages them to think about careers that might suit their skills and interests.
‘Getting that first job can be a daunting experience. In this workbook, Jeanette provides step-by-step, easy-to-understand advice on how to succeed in joining the workforce. With a positive approach to résumé writing, gaining work experience, sound interview skills, to what is expected in the workplace, The Wonderful World of Work opens up many doors of opportunity, arming Asperteens with the right knowledge and ambition to mastering a fulfilling career ahead.’
– Barb Cook, Editor-in-Chief of Autism Aspergers Network Magazine and co-founder of Australian Autism Aspergers Network Inc.
January edition Autism Aspergers Network Magazine: View online version here.
10th December: Channel 10 Wake Up Breakfast Show
Discussion on Aspergers Syndrome, Susan Boyle and later in life diagnosis with Barb Cook and the Channel Ten Wake Up team. Barb gives a personal account of her difficulties living with aspergers before gaining a diagnosis at the age of 40 and relates to the struggles that Susan would have encountered and the relief at finally getting an understanding of who they are.
16th October: Australian Women’s Weekly: Article – I was diagnosed with Autism at 40 http://www.aww.com.au/latest-news/health/i-was-diagnosed-with-autism-at-40-6727
13th September: Autism Aspergers Network Magazine September edition: View online version here.
27th July: Pilot Promo Video for Caring 4 ASD: Barb Cook was part of a pilot video promoting a new organisation including Dick Smith https://www.facebook.com/caring4asdltd/videos/vb.230142197152171/203655256482697/?type=2&theater
25th May: Symposium Panel Member – Aspergers and the Autism Spectrum: Panel member of 5 at a Wellbeing Expo to a large crowd. First live speaking event.
30th April: Channel 7 Local News: Covering the release of the new Australian Autism Aspergers Network magazine.
25th April: Noosa Today Paper: Magazine is an Australian First
18th April: Skype Interview with Craig Evans USA – Autism Hangout
13th April: Radio Interview with Beck Kelly – Real People Talk Autism Phoenix FM Bendigo
27th March: Australian Autism Aspergers Network Magazine Launched: Print and online version. 96 pages. View online publication here.
22nd November: Founded Bikers for Autism Australia
22nd November: Co Founded the Australian Autism Aspergers Network Inc.: Registered not for profit charity supporting individual and families on the Autism Spectrum. http://www.acnc.gov.au/RN52B75Q?ID=C7F10512-406C-4025-A59E-18130BE5C745&noleft=1
1 September: Co Founded the Sunshine Coast Autism Aspergers Network
3 March: Official Diagnosis of Asperger syndrome