Barb’s mission to change attitudes
A DIAGNOSIS of Aspergers syndrome at the age of 40 has led Pomona's Barbara (Barb) Cook to a career in international magazine publishing and a short-listed nomination for a national award.
After acceptance of her diagnosis and with a determination to move forward, Barb founded the Autism Aspergers Network Magazine, now a global publication dedicated to people of all ages on the autism spectrum.
"I was relieved to be diagnosed as I always knew I didn't fit in, from school through to the work force."
As well as living with the syndrome, Barb's 20 years' experience in graphic design helped her to found the magazine.
"It has brought my two passions together and it is so worthwhile and satisfying," she said. "I have found my right place. I am a happy person now."
The Autism Aspergers Network Magazine is full of information from professionals, organisations and people living on the spectrum. It has been quoted as being the best in the world for professional quality in both information and design. Barb gained the support and backing of Professor Tony Attwood and Dr Michelle Garnett, both Patrons of the Australian Autism Aspergers Network and both regular contributors. Barb's aim is to bring together people of all ages whether on the spectrum or not, to better improve acceptance in the general population plus to make major changes of available resources as well as to uncover the often hidden sides of those living on the spectrum. In Barb's constant mission to better improve information availability; she created the websites for the Australian Autism Aspergers Network Inc. a charity magazine, interactive blog site. She also maintains a Facebook page.
"I use my skills to get the information out there, to tell people about other people's stories. It's been such a positive thing. After my first issue a family at Mooloolaba contacted me and said their son was diagnosed at age 28 and didn't want to know anything about it, but he read the magazine cover to cover and said it changed his life.."
April is World Autism Awareness month. Barb Cook is short listed to win a national award for her services to autism from Australia's largest not-for-profit autism support services provider, Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) at the 2014 Aspect National Recognition Awards being held in Sydney on Tuesday, April 8.
There are six awards in five categories. Barb Cook's category is: Inspiration Award for Individual Achievement: The recipient of his award identifies as having an autism spectrum disorder and has made a significant achievement in their own personal context, be in the arts, business, community services or sports.
Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is Australia's leading service provider for autism.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong disability that affects about one in 100 Australians, or 230,000 people. The word spectrum reflects the different challenges people with autism face and the degree to which they might be affected.
aanmag.com.au/ or search for
AustralianAutismAspergersNetwork on facebook.