Inspiring Women with Autism: Jennifer Cook O’Toole

Jennifer Cook O'TooleJennifer Cook O’Toole is a mother, author, and advocate who created Asperkids, LLC, a multi-media social education company. She is also the recipient of the 2012 Temple Grandin Award, the 2012 GRASP Distinguished Spectrumite Medal, 2012 AuKids Speaker of the Year, and a nominee for the 2012 Autism Society Book Award and Godiva’s Woman of the Year.

Actress/advocate Holly Robinson Peete includes her among her “Autism Parent Superstars,” and she was recently added to the “Who’s Who” list of international Aspie Mentors, along with Temple Grandin and Stephen Shore.

She is a popular speaker with bubbly nature that directly contradicts the stereotype of the cold, socially awkward Aspie. Her speaking appearances include The Autism Society of America’s National Conference, the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association, The National Inclusion Project, the UK’s National Autistic Society, and Ireland’s SHINE. She is also a mentor for Yale’s Child Study Center, where her books are used a foundational texts, and the Global Montessori Alliance. Her Facebook Fan Page and Asperkids blog were both chosen by Disney/Babble for the Top 30 Autism Sites in the World.

She is also the author of the popular “Asperkids” book series, which includes Asperkids: An Insider’s Guide to Loving, Understanding and Teaching Children with Asperger Syndrome, The Asperkids (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Guidelines for Teens and Tweens, The Asperkid’s Launch Pad: Home Design that Empowers Everyday Superheroes, The Asperkid’s Not-So-Average Coloring Book, and The Asperkid’s Game Plan: Purposeful Play, Extraordinary Minds. . . Ordinary Stuff. She is also a regular contributor to Autism Asperger’s Digest, The Australian Autism Asperger’s Network, Autism Spectrum Quarterly, and “Special” magazine.

Her inspiration comes from her three children and husband, all of whom are also on the autism spectrum. During her acceptance speech for the GRASP DSM Medal awards, she said,

“We, as Aspies, are meant to contribute and are bringing and in possession of an amazing perspective that is as missed as the those things on the other side of the pendulum that maybe we miss. And so, when you are parents, look at your little short people, or when you look at your medal, other recipients, or whether you’re just looking at one another, I hope that in the moments where the world makes you feel a little bit less, you can remember that it’s because of this unique perspective and unique gift that we all bring in our own little tender way that this world is going to be better in the next ten and twenty and thirty years for the little people like this, who will be proud to call themselves ‘Aspergers’. “

Her blog also offers targeted advice to young people who are newly diagnosed, or who are struggling with the challenges of their diagnosis in a world that is often not friendly to those on the spectrum. She calls them “emotional care packages” to help you “keep on keepin’ on.

For more information about Jennifer and Asperkids, visit her website at www.asperkids.com.