Wife & Mother
Bachelor's Degree in Journalism
There is more to autism
than the narrow representations we are often shown
I’m Kay Kerr, a writer and Young Adult author living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. I love spending time in nature with my husband and our daughter, especially the beach and rainforest. I am now in my 30s, and was diagnosed when I was 27 years old. At the time, I was working a stressful and unsuited job, and hurtling towards what I now know was autistic burnout. I rarely slept and my ability to function was diminishing. On a trip to New York, I had an intense sensory reaction to the city. The lights, sounds, smells, and sheer volume of people completely overwhelmed me and I didn’t sleep for days. When I got home from that trip I started looking into ‘sensory overload’ and ‘sensory burnout’. Once I came across accounts of autistic girls and women, I started to connect the dots of the sensory issues I had, along with the social and processing challenges I'd always
faced but never understood enough to give a name. I sought a formal diagnosis, quit my job and started working at building a life better suited to my needs, strengths and challenges. I had written a first draft of my book ‘Please Don’t Hug Me’ before I was diagnosed, but once I knew that about myself I realised that was what I was writing about with my protagonist Erin, so I went back and rewrote the manuscript. It was a healing and emotionally intense period, and I used writing as a way to process my own feelings about all of the years I lived not knowing this intrinsic thing about myself. My self esteem and sense of self is so much stronger now, knowing why it is I find some things difficult that others seem to find easy. To me, it’s been the difference of understanding between feeling like I was failing at being neurotypical and now feeling like I’m succeeding as an autistic woman.