When we see a parent with a disabled child, we sympathize. But after reading "Carly's Voice," a new book by Arthur Fleischmann and his autistic daughter, Carly, I realized I had no clue about the struggles and agonizing decisions that go on when the rest of us are not looking.
I went to college with Arthur and his wife, Tammy, who was my good friend. But we lost touch over the years and until Facebook came along I didn't know their teenage daughter, Carly, had severe autism and is unable to talk. The book describes her frequent crying, constant rocking, sensitivity to noise and inability to sleep through the night as her parents search desperately for help.
Their savior, besides excellent caregivers, ends up being computers that allow Carly to "speak." They learn she has extraordinary intelligence and has been absorbing everything she has been hearing when her parents thought she wasn't listening. Carly has since become something of a celebrity, appearing on several news and talk shows. The book shows how persistent parents who don't give up can allow their kids to achieve their potential and find some satisfaction despite the constant roadblocks.
Photo courtesy Arthur Fleischmann