Born 1963 – AUSTRALIA

I was born in the inner city in Melbourne in 1963. In 1965, in a time when autism was deemed 'infantile psychosis', two year old I was thought deaf, stared through people, had self injurious behaviours and had significant ongoing health issues. The same year, aged just two years old, I was admitted to hospital for a 3 day inpatient assessment and emerged from this diagnosed as 'psychotic'.

Though I was diagnosed with language processing disorder and heard autism discussed around me in late childhood, I grew up introduced by my father as 'feral' and by my mother as 'psychotic' and later 'disturbed'. It was not until my mid twenties that anyone ever helped me understand my own autism. I turned 26 years old in a time when autism was still deemed to effect only 4 in 10,000 people and my 1965 diagnosis of autism became confirmed by Australia's leading autism expert at that time, educational psychologist, Dr Lawrie Bartak.

I grew up as a highly sensory, echolalic, meaning deaf, meaning blind and face blind child who learned through physical patterning and rote. I was drawn to light, colour, textures, movement, sounds and tones and described my world as a 'sensing world of pattern, theme and feel'.

With severe language processing disorder, I came to understand sentences by age 9-11 and by age 13 could speak in litanies.  I failed early secondary education, leaving at age 15 after 4 high schools as 'not assessible'. I became homeless, was exploited by strangers, kept trying to work and had 30 jobs in 3 years.

Largely illiterate and innumerate, a psychiatrist encouraged me to return to education at the age of 18. Defying all (low) expectations I passed college and chose to go on to university, achieved an Honours Degree in Sociology, a degree in Linguistics and a postgraduate Diploma in Education.

I wrote the autobiography, Nobody Nowhere (my first of 9 published books) in 1991 and at that time became the first book by a person with autism to ever become an international bestseller. It spent spent 10 weeks at number one on the New York Times Bestseller List, was published in over 20 languages and was followed with my second international bestseller, Somebody Somewhere in 1994, a year before Temple Grandin released her first bestseller, Thinking In Pictures in 1995.

In spite of extreme Exposure Anxiety, I became the subject of a number of television documentaries, a renowned international public speaker and went on to become an autism consultant working internationally with more than 1000 children, teens and adults on the autism spectrum.

My longing to dare expression through arts played a large part in my's battle to rise above life long compulsive avoidance, diversion and retaliation responses. Whilst this Exposure Anxiety throughout my childhood inhibited my capacity to dare open expression through arts, as an adult, I emerged as a prolific artist, prodigious sculptor and singer songwriter with songs featuring in the international television series Things You Taught Me.