Carly Fleischmann’s first words, after a childhood suffering from severe, non-verbal autism were typed on a keyboard.
“Hurt,” Carly typed.”Hel,” she added. Carly, according to the video, struggled with the last letter of the word she was looking for, “p.”
Carly’s parents knew she was hurting and knew she needed help, but they had no idea that she was capable of communicating through words. Her parents had invested in intense therapy for Carly, who was born with a neuro-typical twin sister. Many years after learning their child suffered from autistic oral-motor apraxia and cognitive delay, the couple was finally able to get a glimpse into reasons for Carly’s behavior. With the help of technology and a tremendous amount of work with her therapists, Carly was able to type out all of her feelings and explain from her own point of view what it is like to be autistic.
By typing, Carly explained that she knows her behavior is considered socially unacceptable.
“If I could stop it I would, but it’s not like turning a switch off. I know what is right and wrong, but it’s like I have a fight with my brain over it.”
Carly has her own Facebook page called “Carly’s Voice.” Like most young Americans, she also has a Twitter account. Unlike most American teens, Carly has just under 50 thousand followers. Carly went to a mainstream school and took gifted classes. This past year, she went to a university. Her IQ exceeds 120. Though autistic and non-verbal, Carly was able to write her share of a book with her father. Her memoir is entitled Carly’s Voice.
“I have learned more from Carly about autism than any doctor or ‘expert,’ and she has helped me understand and connect with my son in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” actress, author and autism advocate Holly Robinson Peete wrote after reading Carly’s book that describe what it’s like to be autistic and non-verbal. “Her book takes the autism conversation to new places and disproves the ridiculous notion that non-verbal people with autism don’t have feelings and thoughts or are unintelligent. Carly is—for me—autism’s fiercest and most valuable advocate.”
The New York Times explained how Carly’s words were used by game developers to create simulations to help caregivers understand what life might look like to their loved ones with autism. The simulation could also help law enforcement understand and recognize autism. Carly’s words change everything and offer hope to the autism community.
“My goal is to one day have my very own talk show. Ellen watch out,” Carly said in a YouTube video she created and posted to her Twitter account.
— Carly Fleischmann (@CarlysVoice) April 8, 2014
“The words that are supposed to come out of my mouth might be silent but my InnerVoice is very loud,” Carly wrote on Facebook this year.
It was her birthday weekend. She was turning 19. It’s been nine years since Carly typed her first desperate words. This year, Carly was looking in the mirror asking herself if she looks autistic and wrote, “My birthday wish this year is that we all take a look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves who do we want to be? Because after looking in the mirror I can say I like being me.”
[Photo via YouTube]