About the presenters…
Barb Cook, M.Aut. (Edu), Dip.HSc. (Nut) Registered Developmental Educator
Barb is a registered Developmental Educator, Deputy Chair of the Developmental Educators Australia Incorporated (DEAI), and an Autism and Neurodiversity Employment Consultant and Life Coach for neurodivergent adults (ADHD, autism and dyslexia). Barb holds a Master of Autism (education) degree with focus on employment from the University of Wollongong, where she is also a researcher and co-project lead in the area of self-determination and self-advocacy for adults on the autism spectrum.
Barb has extensive experience in working with adults on the autism spectrum and ADHD, in creating pathways in attaining life goals in the areas of self-determination and self-advocacy, education, employment, health and interpersonal relationships.
Barb is founder of the Neurodiversity Hub in Gympie Queensland, a space providing allied health services for neurodivergent people, including one-on-one support, therapeutic groups, workshops and presentations and an informal space to meet.
Barb is Director and Founder of NeuroEmploy Pty Ltd, a company providing a variety of neurodiversity specific educational and training programs for neurodivergent individuals, workplace staff, management and businesses.
Barb is internationally recognised for her bestselling book on autism in women, Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism with Dr Michelle Garnett, filling the gap in literature between lived experience of autistic women and the clinical knowledge. Barb’s recently released and second best-selling book co-authored with Yenn Purkis, The Autism and Neurodiversity Self-Advocacy Handbook: Developing Skills to Determine Your Own Future, is an essential guidebook that gives you the tools and strategies to advocate for yourself in any situation, developing your skills in standing up for yourself, your needs and wishes.
Barb is founder of Spectrum Women Magazine and is a prolific writer on autism, ADHD and neurodivergence and employment and is published in academic research.
Barb is a highly sought-after international speaker and presents on a variety of topics related to women, autism, ADHD and Neurodiversity. Barb spoke at the World Autism Organisation Congress 2018 in Houston Texas and 2019, and was invited by the United States government to keynote a special event “A Woman’s Voice: Understanding Autistic Needs” for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) in Washington DC, USA.
Barb identifies as neurodivergent, being formally diagnosed mid-life with ADHD, Autism and dyslexia in 2009, and promotes a strength-based and person-centred approach in her life and work.
Barb is a passionate motorcyclist, and enjoys riding the love of her life, Ron Strom Burgundy, a Suzuki VStrom DL1000, who assists her with good self-care and an effective anxiety reducing and depression busting practice.
Prof. Amanda Webster (Ph.D.) Registered Developmental Educator
Amanda is the Associate Professor, Academic Program Director for Autism and Inclusive Education at University of Wollongong (UOW) and registered Developmental Educator providing telehealth and in-person services in NSW and QLD.
As a researcher with the Australian Autism CRC, Amanda has contributed to the national needs analysis project and has led UOW partner with the CRC in co-production of research with autistic community members and their families. She is committed to community-based research with a focus on leadership and facilitation of inclusive cultures and practice that empower students and families to exercise agency in their lives. Amanda has completed several large-scale projects examining the role of leaders in inclusive education reform and the decision-making processes utilised by stakeholders to support students with a range of needs.
She has led the development of a community of practice in which autistic adults, family members and service providers have worked together to identify factors and practices that influence their ability to exercise agency in different settings. This group is now developing a framework to support autistic individuals to demonstrate greater self-determination as they move from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.
Prior to her academic career, Dr. Webster worked for over 30 years with autistic and neurodivergent students and their families in her roles as a teacher, school leader / principal, and program director.
Dr. Webster is actively involved with peak autism and disabilities organisations across Australia and with education departments in Queensland, NSW and Tasmania. Her work has culminated in a number of peer reviewed publications including three books overviewing case studies and models of practice for empowering and supporting autistic and neurodivergent individuals and families in community and school settings.