Carly’s Voice is an extraordinary book written by Arthur Fleischmann with contributions from his daughter Carly. It traces the story of Carly who, at the age of two, was diagnosed with severe autism and apraxia, an oral motor condition that prevented her from speaking. Doctors predicted that she would never develop beyond the abilities of a child and would spend her life in a home. Determined to do the best for their daughter, the Fleischmann’s (Arthur and his wife Tammy) secured intensive behavioural and communication therapies. However, though Carly made some progress she was still very much in her own world, unable to communicate with those around her. Then when she was 10 years old a breakthrough happened.
Whilst working with her therapists Carly reached across to her laptop and using her index finger tapped out the words “help teeth hurt”. This was the first time that Carly had expressed herself or communicated any sort of feelings which astounded those around her. With help from her therapists, Carly gradually developed a way of communicating with other people through the use of technology. Though she still struggles with her autism, her communication has now progressed to reveal a young woman with intelligence and humour, far beyond anything predicted by her doctors. Such was her progress that Carly was able to bring her story to national attention through appearances on television and now has a huge following on facebook and twitter.
On a personal note, I found the story of Carly’s Voice inspiring and heartwarming. It is not the finest piece of literature that I have read but the story is certainly one of the most amazing. Not only does it describe some of the immense challenges of living with autism but it also challenges the view that non verbal people with autism don’t have feelings or thoughts or are unintelligent. What I particularly enjoyed was how Arthur Fleischmann blends his own words with those of his daughter and how social media conversations were used in the latter part of the book. I also enjoyed the chapters written by Carly herself which provides a valuable insight into how she found her ‘inner voice’. Indeed one of the most positive things that comes out of this book is how Carly is becoming a leading advocate, helping others to understand autism. Her chapter A conversation with Carly: the truths and myths about autism makes for an informative and interesting read and has certainly helped me to understand more about autism.
Overall, an inpsiring read.
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