During Marshall University’s Parents Weekend Brunch, the parents of Collin Leonard (Linden Grove School class of 2011) were approached by Collin’s Public Speaking professor. She told them how she was encouraged and inspired by an impromptu speech given by Collin.
The professor explained how days before the semester began, her 3 year old son was diagnosed with autism. Like most parents, she was devastated. Then, on the first day of classes, in walks Collin. She asked her student to give an impromptu speech on “3 Things That Make Them Awesome”. Collin gave four: “I am a 4 year varsity swimmer, an Eagle Scout, I graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA, and I HAVE AUTISM!” She knew at that moment that everything was going to be okay in her world. She wants to raise her son to be confident and proud of who he is, just like Collin.
Collin has not always been the confident and outgoing young man he is today. When he was in the sixth grade, he struggled socially and academically. He had no friends. This sad, lonely boy was told he could not be successful in a regular classroom setting. His parents enrolled him at Linden Grove School. In no time Collin gained confidence in who he is. He made lots of friends whom he still keeps in contact with to this day. He learned to speak up, ask questions, advocate for himself and learned strategies on how to control his mood swings.
Collin went on to graduate with honors from Purcell Marian High School in 2015. He was accepted to the Marshall University where he is currently a junior majoring in Secondary Special Education and History. Collin’s life goal is to help others be more understanding and accepting to those with Autism and help each of his student rise to their fullest potential just as the staff at Linden Grove School did for him.