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Behind The Mirror: A Pioneer In Autism


With one out of 50 American children diagnosed on the autism spectrum these days, it’s easy to forget that in the middle of the last century the diagnosis was new--and rare. No one knew how to reach these children, locked in repetitive rituals, oblivious to relationships. A remarkable social worker named Jeanne Simons saw the power of attentive patience. She set up a school in Ellicott City.

Even Simons did not know then that she herself was on the autism spectrum. Her memoir, Behind the Mirror, unveils autism from the inside. We speak with her friend and colleague, Sabine Oishi.

“The most important legacy I think was that she proved that these were not children that had to be institutionalized. But these were children that could be treated.”

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.
Melissa Gerr is a Senior Producer for On the Record. She started in public media at Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minn., where she is from, and then worked as a field producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland. She made the jump to audio-lover in Baltimore as a digital media editor at Mid-Atlantic Media and Laureate Education, Inc. and as a field producer for "Out of the Blocks." Her beat is typically the off-beat with an emphasis on science, culture and things that make you say, 'Wait, what?'