Ask Carly - By Carly Fleishmann
By: Carly Fleischmann
My name is Carly Fleischmann and for as long as I can remember I’ve been diagnosed with autism. I am not able to talk with my mouth, however I have found another way to communicate, by spelling on my computer. I used to think I was the only kid with autism who communicates by spelling but last year I met a group of kids that communicate the same way. In fact some are even faster at typing than I am.
I keep on getting lots of emails from moms, dads, kids, and people from different countries asking me all sorts of questions about autism. I think people get a lot of their information from so-called experts but I think what happens is that experts can’t give an explanation to certain questions. How can you explain something you have not lived or if you don’t know what it’s like to have it? If a horse is sick, you don’t ask a fish what’s wrong with the horse. You go right to the horse’s mouth.
On this blog I would like to share with you some questions and answers I have done on my carlysvoice.com blog, twitter and facebook pages.
Carol P: Carly, can you tell me why my son spits all the time? He does all of the other behaviors too...rocking, head hitting flapping his hands but the spitting is gross and it really makes others shy away from him. Any ideas?
I myself never spit as a child however I did drool and felt like spitting. For me, I realize today, I never really knew how to swallow. I know what you are thinking, “what is she talking about?” -- but it’s true. I never really used my mouth to talk and in return never truly worked the muscles in my mouth. When you have saliva stuck in your mouth there are only a few ways to get it out and you do whatever feels most comfortable to you or whatever gives you the most feedback. Try giving him a candy to suck on for two weeks. It will work his muscles and teach him to swallow.
Sharilyn H: Carly, I have a question, not sure if you could help. But would you happen to know why my 4 year old (who has autism), screams in the car every time we come to a stop light or stop sign? He's fine and happy as long as the car keeps moving, but once it stops, he flips out screaming. An uncontrollable tantrum.
I love long, long car rides. It’s a great way to stim without doing anything yourself. The car motion and the visual scenery flashing by it allow you to block out all other sensory input and focus on one. My advice is to get a massage chair cover and put it on the seat so when the car stops he is still feeling motion and not just stopping abruptly. You can even put a dvd on in the car of moving scenery.
Jennifer W: question for you, Carly. Did you ever scream for what seemed like no reason? Like you showed a happy face, and everything was calm and relaxed, but you just start screaming? My daughter sometimes does it and I am trying to figure out why. Thanks! Jenn
I love this question. She is audio filtering and breaking down sounds, noises and conversation throughout the day. Other than the screaming you might see crying, laughing, fits and even anger. It’s our reaction from finally understanding things that were said and done last minute, last day, last month. SHE IS FINE AND TELL HER TO KEEP IT UP.
Mindy M: Ok I have a question Carly. How do I get a teenage boy to stop stimming all class? He says the teachers are boring and its way funnier in his head! I'm sure it is but he's missing all his instructions and the lectures! I'm constantly redirecting him but he's missing so much! HELP!
Ok I need to clear up a misperception about autism. If a child is stimming, it doesn’t mean he or she is not listening. In fact we listen better when we stim. I am attending a typical high school and I still stim in class. I just make it discreet like rolling a small, small corner of a piece of paper in my fingers. Look, you all stim too. Think of the drawings you make when you are on the phone or twirling of hair or pencils. That’s a stim. There is nothing wrong with it but sometimes it’s better to make them discreet.
I would like to thank you for going to my blog and I hope that I get you thinking and keep you wanting to come back blog after blog.
Honoured autism educator
Visit Carly's blog at www.carlysvoice.com
Carly Fleischmann was diagnosed with extreme autism at the age of 2. At the age of 10, after many years of ABA therapy, along with speech-language and physio therapies, Carly began communicating on a voice-output device, and eventually on a personal computer. Her progress has been captured in news segments on ABC, CTV (Canada's largest national television network) and CNN as well as in the press.
By the time she was 13, Carly was writing fiction, letters of advocacy to celebrities and news personalities and e-mails to people interested in her progress. Now 15, Carly has been actively using social media to share rich insights into the experience of living with autism. Her writing on how she processes information and sensory inputs has been fascinating and has given the world tremendous understanding of this perplexing condition.
Carly is keen to share with the world the truths of autism. Although she realizes she may seem quite different from those who do not live with autism, inside she has many of the same hopes and dreams. “I’m cute. I’m funny. And I just want to be a kid,” she has said.
To date, Carly has nearly 11,000 people following her on Facebook and Twitter and eagerly responds to their questions. She is assisting her father in the writing of a memoir to be published by Simon & Schuster, NY. As she says, “Autism will only get out in the open if we talk about it.”
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