Carly’s Voice: Breaking Though Autism
by Arthur Fleischmann with Carly Fleischmann
I highly recommend this recently published book to anyone who works with children or adults with non-verbal autism and to anyone who would like to have a better understanding. My friend, who has a ten year old granddaughter with this type of autism, recommended this book to me. I’m so glad she did! It gives insights into non-verbal autism in a way that a therapist or doctor cannot do, through the “voice” of Carly. The book begins with Carly’s early years, her struggles with her severe autism, and the struggles of her family. But with undying persistence for many years, Carly was finally able to communicate through typing her responses at age ten.
If you read the book, be sure to read “A Conversation with Carly: The Truths and Myths About Autism” at the very end of the book. But don’t read it until you’ve read the whole story so that you have insight into Carly’s personality and character. Through reading the book, the reader gets a better understanding of just how hard it is to overcome the difficulties that accompany autism and also gets a glimpse into the day-to-day life, year-after-year.
Here are some tips that Carly gives, along with my opinions, that are useful to me in the classroom:
- Medications can cause mood changes for no reason. This could result in crying or feeling angry.
- Carly was around nine years old when she was able to “audio filter” all the sounds around her. She took in many sounds at once, some sounds that most people couldn’t hear, some sounds being louder than others. (headphones are helpful for some to do audio filtering in the classroom )
- Make sure kids with autism are around words all the time so they can develop their ability to spell. (label everything you can in the classroom) Work on simple words at first. They just need someone to give them a push and encourage them.
- Even when it may appear they are not paying attention, they usually are. They are looking at things all the time, and they are probably looking out of the corner of their eyes.
- In the very early years, use pictures to help communication.
- It takes a lot of concentration to be able to type words.
- Carly said, “Flapping and humming and rocking does not calm me down(.) it helps me cope with stuff around me.” All the sensory input can be overwhelming to those with autism – sensory overload.
- Some, like Carly, have a photographic memory that allows them to memorize a page of a book in seconds.
- Here’s insight to what it feels like for some like Carly: “…you don’t know what it’s like to be me. You don’t (know) what it feels like when you can’t sit still because your legs feel like they are on fire or it feels like a hundred ants are crawling up your arms. How can you help me when you don’t know?”
- Carly said once, “I act up because I feel so trapped inside myself.”
- “When I look at someone I take over a thousand images of that person’s face in less than a minute. The more I look…the more pictures I take…my brain…gets full. I am no longer able to process…and I am forced to turn away.” (Carly’s experience)
- Many with non-verbal autism have an inner voice but don’t know how to express themselves. Don’t give up on them!
- You can visit Carly on Facebook @ Carly Fleischmann.