Spectrum Suite Members Deborah, Samantha, and Liz at ANCA World Autism Festival 2017
SPECTRUM SUITE, LLC
Spectrum Suite, LLC is an educational company dedicated to celebrating neurodiversity through the arts, literature, and service. Our services include promoting authors and artists, developing and providing quality neurodiverse literature, and serving the neurodiverse community and their loved ones, through community outreach, gatherings, and educational events.
Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle), Spectrum Suite Founder and President, corresponds with thousands of individuals worldwide on the autism spectrum. In 2012, she founded an online Aspergers support group. Currently she manages an online community page, and with three blogs, provided over 1,200 pages of her insights on autism. Spectrum Suite continues to carry on the spirit of giving.
Appearances: Samantha as guest speaker at Spectrum Fusion, The Ducere Group, and other organizations to support raising awareness about autistic job seekers. More appearances can be found here. Samantha is a workshop presenter and guest speaker at the Love and Autism Conference in October 2018.
Appreciation: Samantha is honored to be a contributing author to the new book about Spectrum Women, the brain-child of the founder of Spectrum Women Magazine. She is also honored to be an award recipient for Community Achievement at the 2017 ANCA World Autism Festival. Other News can be found under News & Projects.
SPECTRUM SUITE LLC ADVISORY BOARD
Calyn Holdaway (WA, USA) has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 20 years as a volunteer across a wide range of philanthropic organizations, both nationally and in Australia and Japan. She currently serves as the founder of The Ducere Group (a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that at risk students have equal access to high quality public education). At Ducere she leads a group of committed volunteers to find and create additional resources for at risk students, their families, and those who teach them. She is a fellow of the Washington State Charter Association Community Leadership Program and is a strong advocate of charter schools as an innovative means for all children to receive a free appropriate public education. As the mother of three children with exeptional needs, Calyn is a compassionate and diligent special education advocate and a voice of reason for those who cannot speak for themselves.
My name is Kathia Schierning (Denmark). I am diagnosed with Aspergers and call my self ‘Aspien Woman.’ I have been married for 11 years to Nikolaj. He is Neurotypical. We have 3 children, and 2 are diagnosed with autism. I work full time at my company Aspien Women. Our goal is to help women with Aspergers and autism into work, and advocate for women and autism. I teach about autism to professionals, companies that employ people with autism, and to people on the spectrum. I also give talks about my story and how autism is a part for my life. I am based in Denmark. www.aspienwomen.dk email@example.com
Gary Jesch (Nevada, USA) is the founder of Invirtua Inc., a Carson City, NV-company established to help those on the autism spectrum, by providing live interactive avatars for therapy sessions. His computer hardware and software package came out in 2016, as a ‘ProSystem’ for autism agencies and private therapists, and is also undergoing research at the University of Nevada-Reno and Brigham Young University in Utah. As a child, one of Jesch’s closest cousins discovered he was on the spectrum. Jesch wanted to help. When he was pioneering his live animation technology, he was inspired by Dr. Rosalind Picard of MIT’s Media Lab to one day use the technology to help autistic individuals. Jesch introduced an autism community website in Nov. 2015, called ‘Autism Animated,’ to contribute to the well-being of people and families on the autism spectrum. With the support and guidance of Dr. Stephen Shore, Prof. Ian Hale and Dr. Tom Buggey, Autism Animated has grown to 100 members and includes 60 site listings and valuable content in the form of webcasts, videos, articles, events, news. There are also member forums, key places where members can contribute. Membership is free.
Leonora Gregory-Collura Dipl. RBS TTC (Vancouver, BC, Canada), is a graduate of two distinguished British Performing Arts schools: Elmhusrt Ballet School and the Royal Ballet, England. For over 40 years, Leonora has pioneered supporting disadvantaged minority groups ‘with special needs’, providing the tools of the performing arts to further individual opportunity for an integrative global cognitive education. Volunteering the majority of her time as an advocate, teacher, producer/director, choreographer and philanthropist, Leonora alongside her partner and husband Charlie Collura, with the creation of ANCA Consulting Inc., (a company serving autistic people and their families) paved a pathway of inclusion into all aspects of society, alongside the philanthropic ANCA Foundation, which supports a platform for a global voice and interactive experiences, inclusive of various sectors of society such as business, education, culture, economic development and humanitarian. The autistic community members of ANCA enjoy worldwide access to a network, never before experienced in the history of the autistic community through the global platform of the ANCA World Autism Festival & Trade Show , inclusive of the first international awards recognition known in our history. The first all autistic consulting company to employ autistic people set a precedence for many to be established locally, nationally and around the globe since the inception of ANCA.
Rajesh Anandan (New York, USA) is a social entrepreneur, growth architect and a Co-Founder of ULTRA Testing, an innovative company that employs individuals on the autism spectrum to work from home as software testers. After a stint at Microsoft as a program manager, Rajesh joined Bain & Company where he specialized in business incubation and growth strategy for technology, media, financial services, healthcare and retail clients. For the past decade, Rajesh has focused on scaling social innovations, including as head of UNICEF Ventures and as Co-Creator of UNICEF Kid Power, the world’s first Wearable-for-Good. Rajesh has a BSc and MEng in Computer Science & Electrical Engineering from M.I.T. with concentrations in AI, Systems Dynamics and Economics. ultratesting.us
Jen Elcheson (aka Jen Ilczyszyn) (B.C., Canada) was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as a teenager in 1998, during a time when very few females were identified. Jen is currently employed as a para-educator for the public school system, where she works with many neurodivergent learners, including autistics. She also is a part time daycare assistant. Jen has a passion for peer mentoring/consulting and supporting fellow autistics and is the Western Canadian Ambassador of the International Aspergirl Society, founded by author Rudy Simone. She serves as the co-administer of a long running international support group for women on the spectrum. Jen’s aim is to help fellow autistics empower themselves, to navigate the confusing outer world with more confidence, and to show others they are not alone in this often confusing journey. Jen has written for the former Australian Asperger’s Autism Network Magazine and currently writes for Spectrum Women magazine. She is a contributing author to a book to be published in 2018 about Spectrum Women. She loves animals, her eclectic friends, travel, psychology, music, the arts, and supporting others (and much more).
SPECTRUM SUITE STAFF
FOUNDER & PRESIDENT Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle Ciampi), M.Ed., is the mother of three boys, one adult son who is on the autism spectrum. She is the lead job recruiter for ULTRA Testing, an autism educator, the author of the blog and book Everyday Aspergers, Selection Committee Chair at the ANCA World Autism Festival and is active in autism groups locally and globally. Samantha serves as a guest speaker, workshop presenter, curriculum developer, neurodiversity recruitment specialist, and more. She is working on turning her manuscript, Autism in a Briefcase, into educational presentations to provide insight and support to employers and agencies about the neurodiverse talent pool. A former schoolteacher and advocate for children with exceptional needs, she appreciates the skills and talents of autistics. Diagnosed with Aspergers in 2012, she enjoys the arts, writing, movies, travel, and connecting with others. (More people know Sam by Sam because it’s her community pen name.) Please see Sam and Speaking Engagements for more information.
ASSISTANT Krista Packer. I’m the mother of four boys, one who is on the autism spectrum (ages 14-22). I’m active in the autism community, including an assistant at Spectrum Suite LLC and host of my online Aspergers support group. I’ve also been an advocate for 10 years to parents and children on the autism spectrum. I recently traveled to the UK and meet others on the spectrum, traveled alone through 28 states, and camped national forests, while meeting others on the spectrum and spreading autism knowledge and awareness. My interests and passions are helping other Aspies/Autistics by offering support and sharing my own personal story. My other passions: remodeling, refurbishing/giving new life to antiques, fixing electronics, buying/selling antiques, and this NEW found love of traveling within nature. I’m at peace within nature.
*EDITOR Deborah Kukreja Born in the United States, Deborah has lived in India with her family for the last seven years. As a special educator, she teaches children one-on-one in a holistic school dedicated to raising children consciously, while providing a strong foundation for their spirit. Aside from teaching, Deborah loves to write. In the past, Deborah was Chief Editor and writer for the Karuna Journal, a magazine dedicated to individuals, families, and teachers in all forms around the globe, whose lives are touched by different ways of being. Deborah is a mixed masala of neurotypical and neurodiverse characteristics. She doesn’t fully embody neurotypical thinkers or Aspies’ unique perceptions. She’s a lower case letter in between, learning to bridge both worlds. Deborah feels blessed to be on the selection committee for the ANCA World Autism Festival and to be editor for Spectrum Suite, LLC.
WEBSITE CONSULTANT Cheryl Barnett is a graphic designer, web designer, and photographer that lives in Springfield, Missouri. Cheryl was a past editor of Annals of Psychotherapy & Integrative Health until she began working as an independent designer and photographer. She is an advocate for those on the autism spectrum. Her daughter, Merry, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when she was 12. Merry is now 20, working at Panera Bread, and attending Baptist Bible College full time. If you have any design, website, or photography needs, contact Cheryl through her websites or Facebook page.
“The word neurodiversity was coined by Judy Singer, a sociology student in Australia in the late 1990s, who was a member of one of the early online groups for autistic adults. Neurodiversity is a way of looking at conditions like autism, ADHD and dyslexia that takes into account the fact that these conditions can convey gifts, as well as challenges. Autistic people are actually better than neurotypical people at certain things—such as detecting flaws in visual patterns, or certain kinds of memory tasks. We discovered these conditions through a medical lens, which tends to pathologize them. But neurodiversity is a way of looking at these conditions in a more holistic and humane way, so that we also [see] the virtues of these different kinds of minds. So you could say [that] great minds do not, in fact, think alike. And society is stronger if we can draw on the different skills of these conditions. Judy Singer coined the word neurodiversity to do for the autistic community what feminists [did] with a slogan such as, “Sisterhood is powerful,” or what the gay liberation [movement did] with a slogan such as, “Gay is good,” so that people with different kinds of minds could take pride in themselves and pride in their communities, instead of being seen as isolated patients in clinics with a characteristic checklist of deficits.” ~ Steve Silberman, advocate and author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity source
2017 Interview with Judy Singer by Spectrum Suite