My mother (and my father, and my former professors, and all of my friends…) has the habit of sending me anything autism-related that she stumbles across on the news on on the Internet. Sometimes it’s something I’ve seen before, and I can just take the opportinity to talk with her about the information, to agree that it’s really cool or really frustrating or whatever it is. However, more often than not she finds me gems that I likely wouldn’t have come across on my own, given my lack of television and my general aversion to Youtube.
Back in 2008, Mom sent me an email telling me to check out ABC News’s website, where there was a story and an upcoming live interview with a 13-year-old girl with autism, Carly Fleischmann. I checked it out, and I was blown away. Carly in nonverbal, but when she was 11 years old, she began typing on her family’s computer (the first time, to let them know that she was in pain, typing “HURT” and “HELP”). Since that time, Carly has become an outspoken advocate for individuals with autism, giving the world a peek into what it is like for her to live her life.
This is the original 20/20 program that featured Carly:
Every person with autism is different, but through Carly’s writing, the intricacies of what it’s like to be nonverbal with autism are broached and explored. In sharing Carly’s story, I don’t mean to imply that every person with autism is exactly like her, nor that every nonverbal individual with autism will suddenly begin typing and communicating one day. I don’t buy the idea that there is a “normal” person trapped inside of individuals with autism, waiting too be set free. What I do believe is that people with autism are just that– people. Thanks to Carly, the world can see that fact a little more clearly, as she serves as a sort of bridge between the nonverbal autism world and the neurotypical (“normal,” or non-autistic) world, giving words to an experience that most of us can hardly even imagine.
Yesterday, Carly was featured on The Talk (hosted by autism mom Holly Robinson Peete), an event she has been tweeting about for weeks. It was great to see her on the show, enjoying herself and sharing her thoughts: