At first, my friend Leigh didn’t want me to air this episode. We recorded the interview and I sent her the finished version to see what she thought. I got a call the next day. “I’m so sorry to have wasted your time,” she said, “but my husband and I just listened and we realized that if our daughter ever heard it, she would die of embarrassment.” Though I understood her concern, I hated the fact that so many people would miss out on hearing the interview, because some of the things Leigh talked about just crushed my heart. Other teachers — other people need to hear this.
We originally sat down to talk because I was reading a book called The Reason I Jump, and I wanted to know what she thought about it. She really liked the book, but wished people who read it were given more “actionable steps” to take. In the interview, Leigh talks about how she communicates with her child’s teachers, the steps she’s taking to improve her daughter’s social life, and the three things she wishes all teachers knew about kids with autism.
A few days after her phone call, I asked Leigh if she would be willing to have me air the episode with the names bleeped out, and all other identifying information removed. She said yes, and I’m so glad, because now everyone will get the benefit of this honest, funny, moving interview. If you have ever had an autistic child in your class, or if there’s a chance you ever will, set aside an hour to listen. ♦
Listen to the full episode here: