Gathering Summer 2016 in Olympia, Washington
ABOUT SPECTRUM SUITE, LLC
Spectrum Suite, LLC is a service-oriented company founded in 2016 in Washington state, USA, dedicated to celebrating neurodiversity through all forms of art and artistic expression. Our services include supporting authors and artists, producing and providing quality and unique neurodiverse literature, and serving the neurodiverse community and their loved ones through community outreach, gatherings, and educational events.
Most monies from book sales and appearances are recycled—reinvested into educational seminars, staff development, neurodiverse conventions, gatherings, and community outreach. To this day, and for several years, Samantha Craft (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 into the mind of an autistic. Spectrum Suite continues to carry on the spirit of unconditional giving.
Mission Statement: Spectrum Suite, LLC aims to provide encouragement to the neurodiverse population through accessible and affordable community outreach, community connection, education, and resources.
New for 2017:
Spectrum Suite (S.S) welcomes our new Advisory Board, autistic individuals, parents, and professionals who are active in the autism community. The board will serve as peer-advisors to Spectrum Suite founding members. Our Advisory Board is listed below on this page.
Spectrum Suite welcomes two new volunteer staff members, Deborah S.S. editor and Krista S.S. assistant.
Spectrum Suite has formed a partnership with Autism Animated in which autistic individuals, teachers, counselors, job coaches, support personnel, parents, and the like are welcome to partake in group forums and AVA forums, hosted by Samantha Craft and Gary Jesch, the founder of Autism Animated.
Women potluck gatherings are hosted in Samantha Craft’s home, the second Tuesday of the month from 5pm to 9pm, with monthly themes, such as Pajama Pamper Night. It’s a fun and supportive night of community. All women who are autistic, are caretakers to someone on the autism spectrum, or want to learn more about autism, or how to support a loved one with autism are welcome. Contact Samantha Craft on social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Workshops are scheduled in the fall of 2017 on the topic of employment & autism and autism & empowerment. Samantha continues to research the topic of autism and neurodiversity, plan interactive presentations, and serve as a guest speaker and professional educator. Samantha is working on her second book, Autism in a Briefcase, that includes 100 voices of autism — individuals surveyed about autism as it relates to working and employment. If you are interested in learning more about the book or being a part of the project, contact us at email@example.com
SPECTRUM SUITE LLC ADVISORY BOARD
Calyn Holdaway (WA, USA) has worked in the non-profit sector for more than twenty years as a volunteer across a wide range of philanthropic organizations both nationally and in Australia and Japan. She currently serves as the founder and president of The Ducere Group, a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that at risk students have equal access to high quality public education, where she leads a group of committed volunteers to find or 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 special 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, from 2 also diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. I work full time in 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 treatment centers and private therapists, and is also undergoing research at the University of Nevada-Reno and Brigham Young University in Utah. As a child growing up in Reno, NV, one of his closest cousins was on the spectrum at a time when no one knew what they were dealing with, and Jesch want to help him. When he was pioneering his live animation technology, he was inspired by Dr. Rosalind Picard of MIT’s Media Lab to one day bring it to autism treatments. Jesch introduced an autism community website in Nov. 2015 called “Autism Animated” to contribute to the well-being and improvement of people families affected by autism by sharing information and experiences. 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. Valuable content in the form of webcasts, videos, articles, events, news and the AVA Forum are key places where members can contribute.
Dipl. RBS TTC (Vancouver, BC, Canada), a graduate of two distinguished British Performing Arts schools: Elmhusrt Ballet School and the Royal Ballet, England. For over forty 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 paradeducator 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 also the Western Canadian Ambassador of the International Aspergirl Society, founded by author Rudy Simone. She is also a co admin of a long running international support group for women on the spectrum on Facebook. Jen’s aim is to help fellow autistics empower themselves to navigate the confusing outer world with more confidence and show others they are not alone in this often confusing journey. She also has written for the former Australian Asperger’s Autism Network Magazine and Spectrum Woman magazine. She loves animals, her eclectic friends, travel, psychology, music, the arts, and supporting others (and much more).
SPECTRUM SUITE VOLUNTEER 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 her second book Autism in a Briefcase, written to provide insight to employers and agencies about the neurodiverse talent pool. A former schoolteacher and advocate for children with special 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.)
VICE-PRESIDENT Robert Michael, MBA has a background in the sciences and has always been a fan of the performing arts, particularly community plays and stand-up comedy. His eldest son, who is now an adult, has been performing in choir since he began grade school. Outside of his full time job at a manufacturing company, he is a strong supporter of Spectrum Suite’s mission to embrace neurodiversity through the arts. His middle son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of five. Robert lives near Lacey, Washington, where he enjoys fitness training, the performing arts, reading science fiction and mystery, and time with friends and family.
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 a member of AVA Autism Volunteer Association, an assistant at Spectrum Suite LLC, and host of my online Aspergers support group. I’ve also been an advocate for 10 yrs to parents and children on the autism spectrum. I recently traveled to the U.K. 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/Autists by offering support, 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.
ASSISTANT Derek Michael is an accomplished young man, with a background in music and leadership. Recently, he was awarded a Rotary Club scholarship for exemplary leadership and service. He has a sibling with autism and other family members on the autism spectrum. He enjoys community volunteering and outreach, singing, and baseball. He lives in Western Washington, where he is studying composite engineering.
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. She is now almost 20 and is 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, www.capturethemoment4.me, www.cherylbarnettdesigns or Facebook www.facebook.com/capturethemoment4me/
“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