Posted by: kristakhauk | May 9, 2011

Carly’s Voice – Thanks to Social Media

I recently came across this video a friend of mine’s mom posted to her Facebook page about a teenager named Carly, who has autism. At an early age, doctors considered her “mentally deficient.” She has never been able to speak or connect to the world around her in any way. She grew up with about 40-60 hours a week of one on one therapy, but her ceaseless rocking, flailing arms, and lack of speech discouraged everyone around her. Despite thousands of hours of therapy and no signs of progress, her parents refused to institutionalize her.

One day three years ago, however, Carly ran to a computer and started typing. Her first words were “hurt” and “help.” She then got up and went behind the couch and threw up. This was considered a breakthrough because nobody had specifically taught her these words. Her parents and therapists were skeptical, since nobody had ever seen her write a word. It took months before they could get her to type more, but with positive reinforcement, she began to type for others, and could communicate with those around her. “I am autistic but that’s not who I am. Take time to know me before you judge me.”

This truly powerful story has unlocked many of the mysteries of her erratic behavior. Like banging her head “because if I don’t I feel like my body is going to explode.” She is able to express her desires and frustrations. She can now have conversations with her parents for the first time after eleven years! What’s even more amazing is that she now has a Twitter and a blog, where she answers questions asked by fans.

I believe this story deserves some recognition. Social media has enabled someone with severe Autism to connect with the world around her, including her parents. After eleven years of never uttering or writing a single word, she is now able to communicate, and express herself using these revolutionary tools. I know social media has many uses, and many annoyances, but this story reminded me of its real power and purpose.

Watch the 20/20 news story about her at http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerindex?id=8281792.

To read more about her, go to her blog at carlysvoice.com

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