The Person Who Taught Me That Even If You Can’t Speak, You Can Still Have Something to Say


Even though I was in a multi-handicapped classroom growing up, most of my classmates had ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, etc., but few had an autism diagnosis. I didn’t a peer with autism until I was a young adult. Because of that, I grew up not really grasping how wide the spectrum of autism really is.

Then I learned about Carly Fleischmann, a 20-year-old nonverbal adult from Toronto, who’s one of the leading voices we have in the autism community today. Diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 , Carly has lived with an oral motor condition that’s prevented her from speaking. While going through therapies, like many of us do on the autism spectrum, Carly found her voice through the help of a laptop. Today she has conversations and shares her thoughts via her computer and iPad. 

The first time I heard about this profound individual was when her book “Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism” came out in the fall of 2012. Until then, I mistakenly considered individuals with autism who were nonverbal as people on the low-functioning end of the autism spectrum. Carly helped changed the conversation for me. I was unaware, and Carly helped opened my eyes to the abilities and brilliance of not only those who are nonverbal but those on all ends of the spectrum.

Later I would become even more aware of some of the challenges those with autism go through when Carly came out with a website called Carly’s Caféwhich shows what an individual with autism can go through when experiencing sensory overload. Much like in her book, it opened up another lens to the already wide spectrum I’d been learning about.

That’s the message I hope to leave with you today. I hope you understand that even if someone is unable to speak, it doesn’t mean they can’t communicate. Currently, it’s projected that one third of children and adults with autism are nonverbal in our community, but today some of the most brilliant individuals I know are on that end of the spectrum.

It just goes to show you, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” And if you’re nonverbal, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice and something to say.

This blog originally appeared on Kerrymagro.com.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

When You’ve Given Up Hope That Things Can Get Better, Please Read This Letter

To the One That Gave Up Hope, I remember our conversation like it was yesterday. I asked you a question that I don’t think you were ready to answer. Maybe it was too soon to ask. Maybe you needed more time to come to the conclusion by yourself. It was a question I asked countless [...]
police officer looks at wallet card of young man

What I Think Every Person With Autism Needs in Their Wallet

There’s no time more stressful and dangerous than the moment a person with a cognitive or social disability, like autism, meets a police officer. The Wallet Card is a tool to help a person with autism communicate clearly with law enforcement or first responders and safely disclose their disability so the officer knows how to [...]

To the Strangers Who Called Out My Daughter's Name at the Zoo

In the summer of 2009, my daughter, Julia, who has Asperger syndrome, was 5 years old. A neighbor and I had taken our kids to the zoo. It was pretty busy that day. At one point I realized we didn’t have Julia. She’d gone to the bathroom with some from the group but had not [...]

To the Helpers Who Walk My Daughter Down the Hallway

I dropped my daughter off a little late to school today. Her aide, Lisa, met us at the main office and Erin immediately enveloped her in one of her signature bear hugs. Lisa hugged her back and told her their class was in the library, knowing that would make Erin smile. It did. As I [...]