Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism

Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism

Arthur Fleischmann with Carly Fleischmann, authors

A Touchtone Book, Published by Simon & Schuster, Biography, Mar. 27, 2012

Suitable for:  Parents of Autistic Children, Young Adults, Educators

Themes:  Parenting an Autistic Child, Nonverbal, Breakthroughs, Courage, Hope

Opening:  “A news reporter once asked me to describe our a-ha moment with Carly.  He wanted to understand that blinding flash of insight we had about our daughter.  I thought for a moment before replying.  There never has been a moment like that.  Carly has always just been Carly.”

Carly and her fraternal twin sister, Taryn, were born in 1995.  From the beginning they were very different babies.  As early as 10 months, Arthur and his wife, Tammy, noticed Carly was showing signs of delays in her gross motor skills, language, auditory attention and socialization.  By age two, she was diagnosed with severe autism and an oral motor condition called apraxia which prevented Carly from speaking.  Doctors predicted  minimal intellectual development.  Her parents refused to give up in their attempts to reach Carly.  Their lives were filled with therapists who worked with her at home and at school.  In fact their entire family life, which included Taryn and an older brother, Matthew, revolved around caring for Carly.

Arthur Fleischmann, bares his soul as he writes a very raw and honest book about life with Carly.  The sleepless nights, explosive outbursts, chaos, exhaustion, not to mention the huge financial debt they incurred paying for special ABA treatment with two therapists, a nanny, and special equipment.  They were constant advocates, fighting teachers, principals and school boards to make sure Carly received important ABA treatment and attended special schools.  Her ABA therapists saw Carly’s intelligence and worked diligently with Carly using many methods to draw her out.

Hope arrived at age 10, when Carly reached over to the computer and with her index finger typed three words “Help Teeth Hurt.”   Carly was very smart, and this was the beginning of unlocking the door so Carly could find her voice.  It didn’t happen over night.  In fact it took many turbulent years filled with meltdowns, tearing off clothing at night, head banging, and long periods of silence when she’d refuse to type her feeling or interact with her therapists and family.  A significant breakthrough occurred when Carly finally typed to her therapist “Tell Mom and Dad to stop yelling at me.”  “At night when I yell and jump around.  It’s not fun for me.  My legs and arms tingle and I can’t make them stop.  I have to move or it gets worse.  I am hitting myself to stop this feeling.”  She was finally communicating what was going on inside of her and doctors could treat her symptoms that were painful with medication and help reduce meltdowns.  Carly began to calm down and over time and she began to share more of her world in Carly’s voice.   Her therapists and family discovered a very intelligent, gifted, funny and witty young woman who wanted to do normal activities like her brother and sister.  She wanted to go shopping with her mom and to take long walks with her dad.

Epilogue:  There is a special 20-page Epilogue at the end of the book that is written by Carly, who is now 17 years old.   It is funny, insightful and inspiring.   You learn why she calls her voice, her “inner voice.”  You discover that she was talking all the time as a young child, but inside of her head.   One day, she realized that no one was hearing her.  She talks about information and sensory  overload.  She describes her moment of realization that she was different from Taryn and Matthew.  She began to realize on her own that “it wasn’t that I didn’t understand the words, it was that my brain couldn’t focus directly on the conversation.”  This happened when Carly was bombarded with too many noises, bright lights, and smells, which would distract her and put her on sensory overload.   Left to her own resources, Carly taught herself what she calls “audio filtering,” which helped her sort things out.  It is a very hard thing to learn, but Carly did it on her own.  This is just a peek at what this inspiring young woman has done for herself, autistic children, parents and the medical and educational communities. Carly has found her voice and has become advocate helping people understand autism!   You can follow Carly Fleischmann on Facebook (over 32,100 followers)  and Twitter.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

24 thoughts on “Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism

  1. Wow, this new book sounds an uplifting, educational and traumatic read, Pat. I am eager to read more about Carly and her family. I find her self reflection, self discovery and self teaching utterly remarkable. I can’t begin to imagine the stress all this puts on the family and I would love to read the siblings stories and perspective, too! Thank you for this moving review.


    • Joanna, I read the book in two days, and I was exhausted. They say if you see a child with autism — you see a child with autism. It impacts each child so differently. And, I’ve reviewed such a variety of books on the subject. Carly’s story is heartbreaking, profound, and courageous. I have such respect for the parents for doing everything they could do to connect with Carly. Great story.


    • Susanna, I think Carly really gives hope to other parents. And, the father’s did a wonderful job of capturing her life and how impacted the family. I’ve been waiting for this book to come out since I first learned about Carly last year. Powerful read for parents.


    • Erik, glad you liked it. Carly is an amazing and determined young woman. It is fascinating to read in her own words what she was going through and how she self-taught herself to filter everything. Great read for parents!


  2. Great post, Pat. Tough, tough situation. Interesting…my son was diagnosed with apraxia. His speech was very delayed. I do understand about the violent tantrums from frustration at not being understood. Three years of speech class (and lots of at-home one-on-one time) caught him up, but he still struggles with reading and processing language.


    • Michelle, I was eager to review this book when it came out, but was exhausted when I finished it. Carly gives amazing insight into what she was going through. I had only recently learned of apraxia — I’m happy that speech therapy and your work has helped. My daughter struggled with reading and auditory processing, but you wouldn’t know it now at age 27. It amazes me that with every post I do on a subject, I have several people comment on their children or family members.


  3. This is wonderful and amazing! You have a treasure chest of wonderful book dealing with autism. I love that you share them. These will be so helpful for anyone in that situation and good for the rest of us to learn and grow. 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend!


  4. Wonderful book choice Pat. Carly is amazing and her parents are to be applauded for all they have done to support her. I think many parents of special needs kids are well aware that their child’s inner voice could be unlocked with the right supports. Unfortunately, the educational, insurance and medical systems regularly put up roadblocks, dissuade parents from pursuing those possibilities, and limit access to costly but life-changing options. Stories like Carly’s remind us all that we must not give up!


    • Cathy, I was taken by the father’s honesty because it was very hard. Carly was lucky to have a family that never gave up. I certainly applaud them. I’ve been following Carly for a year, and wrote a piece about her last April. So I could hardly wait for this release!


  5. Hi Patricia, this sounds like another important and beautiful book that celebrates the resilience in every individual. I truly enjoy going through your book choices and adding them to my to-be-found-and-read list.


  6. I’m going to bookmark this. I wasn’t able to watch the video today. I can’t imagine how children in this situation feel with all the technology we throw at children these days. Thanks for sharing another great book.


    • Stacy, I’m glad you like the review. I’ve been waiting to review this book. There are many other videos of Carly on YouTube. Actually they are make iPads and computers available to a lot of kids with autism. They had become important tools in bring the kids out.


    • Carly was an outstanding read! I was a bit exhausted after reading the book, as there was so much chaos in her life. It is amazing how far she has come! And, to read in her own words what her inner life is like was inspiring. She understood everything being said about her, she couldn’t communicate her pain or discomfort when she was in trouble, thus the reasons for many tantrums. Very powerful insight into Carly and other nonverbal kids with autism or cerebral palsy.


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