One of the original three founders of I CAN Network, Penny Robinson also works at Monash University, where she was recently promoted to the position of Lecturer. That’s quite an achievement for anyone, but Penny’s journey has been a particularly herculean one.
“As a young child I wasn’t able to be understood because of my unclear speech,” says Penny. “I had lots of speech therapy from kindergarten to Year 8.”
In Year 9, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s, and in Year 12, she used to have panic attacks in the school assembly hall. She recalls “sitting in the audience, my palms sweating and my heart racing.”
When she reached University, the similar setting of a lecture hall was equally frightening. To prevent this interfering with her studies, Penny formulated strategies to help her cope. She found that something as simple as having water to sip or gum to chew helped a lot, as did sitting at the end of the row so that she could make a quick escape if necessary. Over time, and with perseverance, she was able to acclimatize to the lecture hall.
After graduating in 2006, Penny began working at Monash as a tutor. In 2010 she became an Assistant Lecturer, and this year, a full-fledged Lecturer. (She’s also one of I CAN Network’s speakers, by the way, and you can book her here: http://ican.network/speakers-agency/)
We’re very proud to have Penny as part of our team, and her journey exemplifies I CAN Network’s belief that people on the spectrum can succeed in the workplace.
By Max Williams