This week our guest is Jennifer Cook O’Toole. She is bubbly and spirited — exactly the opposite of what many people think of when they hear the word, “Asperger,” but her expertise proves she’s the real deal. O’Toole was diagnosed as an Aspie in adulthood, is the mother of three Asperkids, the wife of an Aspie, an award-winning Special Educator and two-time author of brand-new books for and about “Asperkids (Asperkids: An Insider’s Guide to Loving, Understanding and Teaching Children with Asperger Syndrome,)” and upcoming, “The Asperkids’ (Secret) Book of Social Rules: A Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Guidelines for Teens and Tweens.”
O’Toole graduated with honors from Brown University and has since studied at the Graduate School of Social Work at Columbia University and Graduate School of Education at Queens University. Subsequent initiatives with young people garnered her an invitation to serve on North Carolina’s Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence, and a nomination for Disney’s American Teacher of the Year Award in her first year of teaching. She was also featured as a guest editorialist on National Public Radio.
With a background in advocacy and education, O’Toole found herself “walking the special needs walk,” as she struggled to achieve a diagnosis for her first child, whose early life presented one medical challenge upon another. But it was O’Toole’s “Aspie” hyper-focus on otherwise seemingly disconnect details that doctors agree saved the child’s life, and led to her service on the Levine Children’s Hospital’s Family Advocacy Council. Since that time, all three of her young children have been identified as “Aspies,” as has her husband — and eventually, O’Toole herself. Uniquely prepared in social work, education and by her own Asperger’s, she was encouraged to document her unique teaching strategies, parenting perspectives and Aspie insight in her upcoming books, and has since won GRASP’s Distinguished Spectrumite Medal and been nominated for the Temple Grandin Award, both for the outstanding contributions she has made to the lives and families of “Asperkids” the world over. O’Toole is a contributing “expert columnist” for “Modern Parent Online” magazine, has been featured in multiple magazines and as an Autism Empowerment guest contributor.
Join us on Wednesday at 1pmPT and find out more about Asperger’s.