In a COH blogpost that featured an amazing 20/20 ABC Report of 14-year old Carly Fleischmann in 2009, we saw how Carly, diagnosed at age 2 with severe autism and an oral motor condition that prevented her from speaking, experienced a breakthrough in communication at age 11. That’s when she tentatively typed out her thoughts on the computer for the first time.
Till then, Carly’s parents, Arthur and Tammy Fleischmann, were unable to communicate with her, much less understand her uncontrollable behaviour. Typing allowed Carly to indicate her needs and express her thoughts, and eventually to reach out to a world beyond her immediate family and caregivers. In finding her voice through text, Carly was able to give us all a rare, valuable glimpse into a world labeled as “intellectually disabled”.
Carly’s Voice -Breaking Through Autism (2012) details Carly’s journey from birth till 17 (1995 to 2012). Many years of hard work and participating in various therapies led up to that pivotal moment when Carly was able to begin typing. Yet for a few months thereafter, Carly only typed in the presence of her Speech Therapist Barb and Therapist Howard, two individuals who she had come to trust deeply from her early childhood.
Nonetheless, with patience and training, the communication floodgates finally opened. And, her parents discovered, through email conversations and text messages with her, how witty, humorous, intelligent, creative, empathetic, and relational their daughter was.
On her 13th birthday, Carly wrote to her favourite talk show host, Ellen Degeneres, asking her to read a letter she had written explaining autism. This set Carly on the path to be an advocate for autism. She has subsequently been featured in other news programmes, events, and talk shows including ‘Live’ with Larry King, and corresponded with friends and followers via Facebook and Twitter.
In the school year of 2009/2010, Carly started attending gifted classes in a mainstream high school and received a Youth Champion award from HollyRod, a foundation in aid of people affected by autism and Parkinson’s disease.
Mostly written by her father. Arthur, the book chronicles the family’s pain, perseverance and triumphs in coping with Carly’s autism. Readers with family members who are autistic will be able to relate to his fears, frustrations and helplessness, as well as glean lessons for navigating the path ahead.
Most of all, the story warms hearts as you travel with his family on their journey to discover and know a child they had always cherished and loved.
“I wish people would be understanding and caring. But how can they be when they just don’t get it. I can explain it but no one will give me a chance. I want people to understand that autistic people are people and we all have an inner voice.”-Carly
Trailer Video for the book, Carly’s Voice
Carly’s Voice is available at Singapore’s Public Libraries. Search for it here.
About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.