Barb Cook

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 am currently studying a Master of Autism 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.

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.


Barb Cook’s achievements and accomplishments span a wide and lengthy array in helping and supporting those on and associated with the autism spectrum. 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:

2018

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)

2017

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?

3rd & 4th November: Autism West Symposium – The Big Picture – 40 minute presentation on Living Independently within Society

2nd October Article SWMMeaning of Life—an over-thinker’s guide to the universe

15th August Interview Autism WestBarb 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 SWMMy 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 SWMWhy I Write… A Spectrum Women Collaboration

27th May: Podcast interview with Jeanette Purkis for Positively Autistic Jeanette’s Autism Show

23rd MayAASET – 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

2016

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 Rudy Simone, author, singer and songwriter

2015

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.

2014

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

http://www.jkp.com/uk/been-there-done-that-try-this.html

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.

http://www.jkp.com/uk/the-wonderful-world-of-work.html

January edition Autism Aspergers Network Magazine: View online version here.

2013

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.

2012

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

2009

1 September: Co Founded the Sunshine Coast Autism Aspergers Network

3 March: Official Diagnosis of Asperger syndrome