Severely Autistic, Carly Fleischmann Speaks Using a Computer

One of Rebecca’s friends has a daughter who is autistic, and through the years as Rebecca has often cared for the child so that the parents could have respite, I have observed the extreme challenge such a child presents. I have seen the child screaming and so out of control that Rebecca must physically restrain and hold her. She is of a higher functioning level than some and speaks in a limited way. Her parents are dedicated to her recovery and have tried special schools, home schooling, medication and unique diets. At times there has seemed to be progress–at other moments all seems futile. Having this limited experience with autism, I am especially pleased to read of the tremendous success another young lady is having as she deals with this mysterious, debilitating condition.

Carly Flieshman

Carly Fleischman has severe autism and is unable to speak a word. But thanks to years of expensive and intensive therapy, this 13-year-old has made a remarkable breakthrough. Through the means of a computer, she commicates with intellect, clarity and passion. She speaks of her fears, frustrations and other feelings. This is a tremendous stepforward that is of immediate promise to the thousands of families so affected.

From ABC News is this article and very moving video.

“It feels like my legs are on first and a million ants are crawling up my arms,” Carly said through the computer.

Carly writes about her frustrations with her siblings, how she understands their jokes and asks when can she go on a date.

“We were stunned,” Carly’s father Arthur Fleischmann said. “We realized inside was an articulate, intelligent, emotive person that we had never met. This was unbelievable because it opened up a whole new way of looking at her.” This is what Carly wants people to know about autism.

“It is hard to be autistic because no one understands me. People look at me and assume I am dumb because I can’t talk or I act differently than them. I think people get scared with things that look or seem different than them.” “Laypeople would have assumed she was mentally retarded or cognitively impaired. Even professionals labelled her as moderately to severely cognitively impaired. In the old days you would say mentally retarded, which means low IQ and low promise and low potential,” Arthur Fleischman said.

Therapists say the key lesson from Carly’s story is for families to never give up and to be ever creative in helping children with autism find their voice.

“If we had done what so many people told us to do years ago, we wouldn’t have the child we have today. We would have written her off. We would have assumed the worst. We would have never seen how she could write these things —

What a remarkable development this is, virtually releasing the soul of Carly Fleischmann, and giving us a look inside her probing mind.

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My devotional blog is here.

11 thoughts on “Severely Autistic, Carly Fleischmann Speaks Using a Computer

  1. “He is (to my knowledge) the only autistic savant who is able to function normally enough to describe what goes on in his mind when he uses his special ability, which is math and memory among others.”

    Read Mozart and the Whale. There’s a calender calculater in that book who is also high functioning.

    “What is ABA therapy?”

    ABA stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis. Behavioral Analysis is a field of psychology which postulates that you can reduce all human behavior to learnt responses to reward and punishment. ABA is, as the name suggests, an application of this, in which you use reward and punishment to increase/decrease the frequency of various behaviors. So, for example, if you have an autistic kid who doesn’t speak at all but occasionally says ‘mm’, you reward the kid for saying ‘mm’ until that behavior is quite common, then start rewarding only for ‘ma’ (which, with natural variation in the sound, presumably occurs sometimes) and gradually teach the kid to say ‘mama’. Or you consistently punish a child for flapping his/her hands, or reward him/her for a certain length of time of not flapping, to reduce the frequency of hand-flapping.
    ABA works mainly on behavior, with the assumption that understanding will develop as a result of this. Therefore, I don’t think it’s much of a factor in Carly’s unexpectedly good cognitive abilities.

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  2. We have dear friends (more like family) that have a child who is autistic. He is a sweet child and very smart.

    What a blessing that Carly found a way to communicate. As she said, not being able to be understood is one of the greatest frustrations for autistic children/people.

    My little nephew has his moments, but overall he is a doll. He speaks a little but has his own communication when he can’t speak a word. I have watched him grow and learn to speak simple words like no, and when he said mom for the first time. The joy at these simple accomplishments. I’ll never forget the first time he said “auntie” to me. Oh I was thrilled.

    I have learned through watching him grow and develop to love and respect my children and thier ability but mostly that they can call me mommy.

    I have also learned not to judge the lady with the kid screaming in the shopping cart because who knows what battles she and the child are facing.

    I have great admiration and respect for parents with autistic children who raise them and try to do their very best for them.

    Yeah for Carly and her parents.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  3. renaissanceguy

    What an inspiring story! I think how sad Carly must have felt during the years that she had things to say but no way to say them. I’m glad that she can communicate now.

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  4. Hello, HAROLD–thanks for being here. What is ABA therapy? I know the answer may be on your link which I visited briefly. I’m at a conference, though, and have little time at the moment, but an interested in knowing exactly what ABA therapy is.

    ROCHELLE, you’re sweet……..I do miss you when you’re very busy.

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  5. I truly enjoyed this story. I have done some studying on this subject and am absolutely fascinated with it.

    Also… I have been crazy busy lately and haven’t been able to blog much… and wow do I have a lot to catch up here! I know I don’t always have to read every post in all my usual blog stops along the information highway, but I really do enjoy reading yours!

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  6. Mervi

    Great news article! I have a lady in my college classes who works with Autistic Children. I have taken to her several News articles about using a computer and these Children to her and we have spent some time in discussion. My sis-in-law is working with an Autistic child in her class room now. I was able to help her get a much old system up and running just this child would be able to use the Word Processing to communicate. The use of computers has and is opening great avenues into and from the young people.

    Mervi

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  7. This is a great story. I’m reminded of a similar story that I heard about that I meant to look into. I’ll have to search for it.

    Also, if you have never heard of “idiot savants” or (the modern politically correct term) “autistic savants”, they are a very interesting phenomenon. They are basically autistic and can not function normally, but at the same time have an extraordinary gift in memory, math, music or some other area.
    There are many documented cases of autistic savants, but one that is notable is Daniel Tammet. He is (to my knowledge) the only autistic savant who is able to function normally enough to describe what goes on in his mind when he uses his special ability, which is math and memory among others. He wrote a book of his life in which he describes some of this in detail, “Born On A Blue Day“. It is a fascinating read.

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