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Looking Beyond the Label

January 20, 2012

Every now and again a video that has the power to inspire and challenge our thinking about developmental disorders pops up on youtube. This video details the communication breakthrough Carly Fleischmann, a 16 year old girl with autism, underwent. Carly, her parents, and her therapists discovered that by typing out what she was thinking and feeling, Carly could reach out and communicate in a way she was never able to before. In doing so, a smart, intelligent, funny individual was revealed, having been previously trapped within a body with many physical and behavioural limitations.

The video brings up many points that serve as an example for all clinicians working with children and adults with autism. We cannot dismiss an individual as being uncooperative or uncommunicative, because it might just be the case that there is a fully functioning, intelligent person hiding behind the behaviours and peculiarities seen in individuals with autism.

What was most fascinating to me was the syntactic and semantic complexity that Carly, a previously non-verbal and non-communicative individual, was able to exhibit in her typing, and the dramatic transformation in her quality of life and behaviour following her communication breakthrough. More importantly however, was the insight Carly was able to share on what it is like to have autism. She is now able to explain her behaviours and emotions based on what she is feeling and experiencing. This not only helps her family understand what she is going through but also helps outsiders and other clinicians gain a better appreciation for what it means to have autism.

Carly currently maintains a blog in which she writes about her experiences and promotes autism awareness. She even tweets regularly as well! Check her out, and be reminded of how important it is to keep an open mind, go beyond the labels we give our clients and never give up on trying to find ways to give our clients a voice of their own!

– Adele Courchesne

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rena permalink
    January 20, 2012 12:36 pm

    Adele, this was so eye-opening; such a heartwarming story. Thank you for sharing.
    Ma Miller 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. The Power of One Story: Carly’s Voice

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