Teen with autism tells her story in new book
Published Sunday, March 25, 2012 10:28PM EDT
A Toronto teenager with severe autism whose remarkable and touching story CTV News has followed since 2008 has co-authored a book -- "Carly's Voice: Breaking Through Autism" -- with her father.
The book, published by Simon & Schuster Canada, documents 16-year-old Carly Fleischmann's long journey out of silence.
"I believe we all have inner voices that need to come out to the world," she told CTV News through a computerized digital voice.
Her father and co-author, Arthur Fleischmann, said it took Carly two months to write the 15- to 20-page chapter in the book, but that is was virtually flawless when finished.
"I told her how the book is structured . . . you write what you think is best," he said.
Carly has challenged the conventional notions of autism by demonstrating emotional skills that lay hidden for years. A computer has helped her reveal to the world what it's like to have her condition.
From an early age, it was clear Carly had autism. As a young girl, she would often rock back and forth for minutes on end, flail her arms and hit herself repeatedly. Equally troubling, she never gained the ability to speak.
Many people who didn't know her assumed she was intellectually challenged, Arthur said in a 2008 CTVNews.ca story.
Arthur and Carly's mother Tammy were advised to place her in an institution.
Instead, they opted for a therapy called ABA -- Applied Behaviour Analysis, the kind of therapy now recommended for kids with autism. But because of the expense and the need for specially trained therapists, isn't available to all children.
She learned to "talk" to people around her using the computer.
With her single typing finger, Carly has been able to demonstrate her emotional intelligence and witty sense of humour to a family who said they were stunned by what she revealed.
"We realized that inside was an articulate, intelligent, emotive person that we had never met. She was 10 at the time, and we just met her for the first time at 10 or 11 years old," Arthur said in the 2008 story.
Now, in many ways she's a normal teenager. In other ways, she's beyond remarkable.
Carly has become an international advocate for people with autism, even appearing on numerous television shows.
She has conversations with people around the world via Facebook and Twitter, often using her computer to speak her words.
For her contribution to the book, Carly typed out her thoughts, one letter at a time.
Her parents hope ‘Carly's Voice' will open the eyes of society to autism as it did for them.
While Carly still struggles with autism, Tammy and Arthur said she's doing well in high school and has her sights set on university.
"I am glad she dreams these big dreams . . . the bigger she dreams the more she will accomplish," Arthur said.
With a report from CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip