Empowering for Life
A story about accepting disability and speaking up as a leader.
Content warning: This story discusses ableism, psychiatric institutionalisation and segregation of people with disability.
Hi. My name is Kerryn Burgoyne, and this is a story about me.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome 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 end up living in a ‘mental institution’ in a strait jacket in a padded cell for the rest of my life and/or 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, that I was useless, stupid & by a lot of others around me as well!
When I finally got my diagnosis, everything changed. I went around and apologised to people about 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 10-year life journey started & that I had caught up with both my physical & mental age back then.
Between 2005-2007 I wrote ‘The Goal’ and in 2006 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 Asperger’s QLD.
I spoke about my life story to many people. I also did training/educational sessions to schools/groups, universities & in one instance, I educated 500 students as they had a student in their school with an autism spectrum disorder.
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 it empowered me.
I never thought I had leadership skills or anything else to offer the people of society, but that all changed in 2008, when I enrolled for, & did my first course of leadership for people with disabilities with Leadership Plus, that’s when that course opened my eyes to show me that I had a lot of things to offer out there to others!
There were others whom, were more affected than what I was with their own “diffabilities”, but they didn’t let that get in their way of how they achieved things for themselves. It was they (the participants) who empowered & taught me more about myself than I’ve ever had before! They made me proud of my having my disability and not ashamed of it! I was so incredibly content after that course was over & done with about myself & whom I was as a person at the time!
A microphone against a blurred background.
Between 2005 – 2007, I decided to write “The Goal” (a self-help course book for the community) Following that was the “Power of Positivity”, then 4 more between 2010 – 2012.
I have 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. However, I am 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.
Note – This story was written by Speakers Bank based on an interview with Kerryn Burgoyne.
Tip: If you would like to hear more about Kerryn’s story, you can watch her video on the Speakers Bank YouTube channel.