This story was originally written by Speakers Bank based on an interview with Kerryn Burgoyne.
Hi. My name is Kerryn Burgoyne, and this is a story about me.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome – now diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – at the age of 30. In my community and family, nothing was known about it when I went to school or in my childhood. When my mother talked to doctors about my symptoms as a child, she was told she was an overanxious parent and that I would grow out of it.
My diagnosis changed everything, but in the early days nothing was ever known, so I was ignored, put in the background and always in the too hard basket. Nobody wanted to speak to me or have anything to do with me. They just thought I was weird or ‘mental.’ When I was at school, I was told I would end up living in a ‘mental institution’, locked away in a strait jacket in a padded cell for the rest of my life, or that I would be excluded from society all together. My mum was told by many professionals to keep me at home as I was never able to learn anything.
I was also told by family and a lot of others around me that I was useless and stupid!
When I finally got my diagnosis, everything changed. I went around and apologised to people for my actions. Some people were very accepting of it, others weren’t, so I decided to let them go. But my diagnosis changed me as a person. I finally had a name/label for my whole being, which meant I could start working on strategies to greatly help myself to move on with my life. It made me feel a whole lot better. That’s when my 10-year life journey started, and I first started to feel I had caught up with both my physical and mental age.
Between 2005-2007, I wrote ‘The Goal‘. In 2006, during the writing process, I went to a former CEO of an organisation to seek an opinion about it. She said that it was an excellent book and gave me the high recommendation that I sell it online as a business.
So, in 2007, I started my business K-Talk. I ran that for 8 years and went all over Victoria and interstate into Queensland, including Brisbane and far north Queensland in Townsville, to run seminars and to be part of seminars for other companies, such as Empower Autism (previously known as Asperger Services Australia).
I spoke about my life story to many people. I also provided training and educational sessions to schools, groups, universities and in one instance, I educated 500 students to support a peer in their school with ASD. Sometimes I had university students in tears, and I felt great being able to touch all of those people. I felt that this was the thing in life that I honestly wanted to do for myself, as not only a part time job, but because it empowered me.
I never thought I had leadership skills or anything else to offer people or society, but that all changed in 2008, when I enrolled for and did my first course of leadership for people with disabilities with Leadership Plus. That course opened my eyes and showed me that I had a lot of things to offer out there to others!
There were many people I mentored that were affected in different ways by their disabilities compared to me, but they didn’t let that get in the way of how they achieved things for themselves. It was them (the participants) who empowered and taught me more about myself than I’ve ever known before. They made me proud of having my disability and not ashamed of it. I was so incredibly content after that course was over, beaming with pride about what I’d done with myself and who I was as a person at the time!
Recently I’ve just reopened my business as KLB Consulting, but due to COVID-19 and some other issues going on in my life, I’ve had to put the business on hold. Despite these challenges, I’m looking forward to running that business hopefully next year. I would also like to work within a government agency to develop tools and resources. I feel that I have made a great contribution to the community by sharing my life story and giving my personal perspective, as well as given a huge contribution in leadership and development towards society.
I am a leader.
I am a developer.
And I am proud to say that I am a leader in the community that is on the Autism Spectrum.
Kerryn Burgoyne is an extremely passionate and highly enthusiastic advocate when it comes to providing the educational requirements of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to the community. If you would like to hear more about Kerryn’s story, you can watch her video on the Speakers Bank YouTube channel.
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The blog posts do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), and blog posts are contributions made by women, girls or non-binary persons with disability about what leadership means to them. All possible care has been taken in the preparation of the information contained in this document. WWDA disclaims any liability for the accuracy and sufficiency of the information and under no circumstances shall be liable in negligence or otherwise in or arising out of the preparation or supply of any of the information aforesaid.