I don’t often (ever) write about books that I have read, but this particular book is so unexpectedly inspiring that I feel the need to spread the word about this amazing girl, her family, and the abilities that are discovered in the most unlikely place.
Snippets of news, the occasional reference in a scientific journal, science blog or technology podcast led me to learn more about Carly Fleischmann, primarily out of curiosity, and partly due to a disbelief of what I had heard. That a young autistic girl without the ability to speak or communicate, had suddenly opened the eyes of her family, carers and friends by communicating electronically.
Published in early 2012, Carly’s Voice is the true story of literally just that – her ever-growing ability to communicate with the world around her, as seen and written by her father.
At the age of just 2, Carly was diagnosed with severe autism and without the ability to speak due to an oral motor condition. At the time, whilst her family always dreamed and hoped for a ‘normal’ girl, their hopes were dashed.
And yet Carly would prove her family, and the world, wrong.
We learn of the trials and tribulations of her life, and equally importantly those of her family and carers, in the first half of the book – exposing the pain and struggles that surround a family coping with an autistic child. Her father skillfully, although frequently in a non-sequential fashion, describes their lives and paints a picture of hope and love, holding together the family.
And then she spoke those fateful three words – the world around her changing forever, and the minds of those around her suddenly awakening.
From the first day she began communicating, at the age of 10, with an innocent but shocking “help teeth hurt”, to her letters and correspondence with peers and celebrities alike, the story takes us from her childhood to young adulthood.
The second half takes us on Carly’s ever awakening journey into the world, and shows us the real person behind the condition. Carly is a normal girl, with normal desires and dreams, trapped in her own body, until now.
The book is an inspiring, hard-to-put down blend of her father’s story of their family, his discussions with Carly, and her discussions, ever growing in depth and humour, with the world.
Carly is not an autistic girl. She is a normal girl who just happens to have autism.
Whilst we all take the ability to communicate for granted, this story shows that it should be cherished and allowed to flower. It has opened the world to Carly, and Carly to the world.
If you are seeking inspiration, you can go no further than Carly’s Voice.