Who are Barb and Nelle?

Barb Cook and Nelle Frances are a dynamic team bringing together 30 plus years of active advocacy and professional support to individuals on the autism spectrum, their families and friends, educators, employers and professional practice.

Barb, an adult on the autism spectrum, is editor-in-chief of Spectrum Women Magazine, an online publication for, and by, autistic women that currently provides a wealth of information to nearly one million unique readers each year. Barb is also editor and co-author of the upcoming new book, Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, which is being cited as a historically important book for autistic women.

Barb is currently tackling the academic arena by pursuing a Master of Autism at the University of Wollongong in Australia, to enable her to gain a further reach in supporting others as well as embarking into the field of future research, specifically that of aging and late life diagnosis.

Barb speaking at the University of Wollongong on Understanding Gender Differences in Employment for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

With a history steeped in advocacy work and a dedication in supporting fellow individuals on the spectrum, Barb’s extensive knowledge, her personal insights and sincere passion to help, you are guaranteed to be talking and connecting with someone who has lived everyday of their life as an autistic. She has lived through the good and the bad, been misunderstood and confused by the world around her, but has navigated her way to turning her life around to one that serves her and thus, enabling her to better support those around her.

Barb offers valuable information, insights for life direction, provides support and validation, but most of all, knows what it truly feels like to live the life as a person on the spectrum. Her approachable personality will truly have you engaged and walking away with a sense of optimism that Barb imparts to those she connects with. Whether you wish to connect with Barb for one on one support and advice, or consult with Barb on how your workplace or educational environment can better serve and support those on the spectrum, Barb will impart her unique and valuable insights to help you in creating a more productive and supportive future for those who are autistic, and for those who wish to support an individual on the spectrum to grow and to have a more fulfilling future ahead.

Nelle speaking for Autism Awareness Day 2018

Nelle is the mum to an adult son diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and daughter of an AS Dad. She worked as a Special Needs educator for many years until her son’s needs increased when he was 10.

While choosing to focus on his support she still needed an income, so with naive enthusiasm and determination she decided to write some children’s books. The old adage ‘write what you know’ came into play and so the Ben and His Helmet book series was created.

During that time Nelle was also a member of 5 different Autism support groups, mostly face-to-face forums, where she learned the value of having positive support from those willing to look outside the square to find solutions.

She was finally amongst like-minded parents and educators who focussed on her autistic son’s abilities rather than a deficits-based model.  And in that environment “Nelle the fierce educator and advocate” was born.

In 2003 Nelle’s son asked her to teach others what his sensory world was like, so together they created the Sensory Detective® Workshop that Nelle has delivered nationally and internationally ever since.

In 2012 Nelle expanded her passion to effect change through education, and created the Sensory Detective® Program teaching children to monitor their physical reactions to sensory input, which in turn helps them to self regulate their behaviour.

Also in 2012 Nelle established and voluntarily facilitated a social group for autistic adults on the Sunshine Coast Qld, and they met regularly for 3 years.

Through her roles as parent, educator, Sensory and Social Skill Program Facilitator and Consultant, Nelle has gained extensive insight and experience with children, teens, young adults and mature and elderly autistic individuals.

Together Barb and Nelle have got all your Autism needs covered… whether you’re an educator, health professional, employment or community support worker, family member or an autistic individual, we can provide advice, advocacy, solutions, support and training.