As the old saying goes, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
Carly Fleischmann is hoping to inspire understanding after you watch her video which puts you directly in her shoes.
The 18-year-old lives with autism. She can’t speak and uses a computer to communicate.
But, not speaking hasn’t stopped Carly from advocating for autism. As The Huffington Post reports, in 2012 the teen released “Carly’s Cafe.” It shows you Carly’s perspective as she attempts to purchase a cup of coffee and reveals how even that simple act can descend into chaos. Carly says the film is a good, but not perfect, reflection of what living with autism is like. It’s based on an excerpt from the book, Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism, that Carly wrote with her dad, Arthur Fleischmann.
Carly’s dad says she was diagnosed at age 2 with severe autism and cognitive delay and oral motor apraxia, which is a neurological disorder preventing speech. We can’t speak to her because we can’t be sure what she understands and, as she is unable to speak, technology has been the key to unlocking Carly’s voice.
Nonetheless, Carly has been accepted to the University of Toronto later this year. As Carly wrote on her Facebook page, “I CARLY FLEISCHMANN someone who is nonverbal has been accepted to university for the fall. I would love to see the look on my kindergarten teachers face. She thought I didnt like her because I didn’t look at her. The moral of this story is that we are all capable.”
The video you’re about to see is groundbreaking. It’s the first time, as far as I can tell, that someone with severe autism is able to articulate what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Maybe the next time you see someone who doesn’t seem to be acting in a way that most people would describe as “normal” you’ll remember Carly and recognize that we all experience this world differently and we need to try to understand and respect everyone’s journey.
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