"You don't know what it feels like to be me, when you can't sit still because your legs feel like they are on fire, or it feels like a hundred ants are crawling on your arms. People look at means assume I am dumb, because I can't talk. It's hard to be autistic because no one understands me. What do I want? I want to be like every other kid. But I can't. Because I am Carly." (Carly)
This video tells the remarkable story of a teenage girl who suffers from severe autism and was written off as mentally deficient. Born as a twin, Carly was a healthy happy baby girl. Then around her second birthday her parents and doctors noticed she was not meeting milestones and immediately started with early intervention. It was not soon after that the characteristics of severe autism and mental retardation became more apparent. Carly's twin sister was reaching and surpassing age appropriate milestones while Carly was told by doctors she would be lucky to reach the capacity of a six year old. However her parents were determined to give it their all to fight for Carly and her success. With the help of support services, early intervention, and different therapists Carly began to grow but was still not meeting milestones and was thought of as being in her own world un aware of what was going on right around her. Little did her parents, doctors, and support team know what doors would be opened with one device, a computer. Through the use of computers, word processing, and text-to-speech software Carly was soon able to talk and converse with the world around her. Not only was she responding to simple questions, but was using vocabulary that surpassed any expectations. This device allowed Carly to grow, and use the inner voice she always had but had no output to use.
While I have never had any personal experiences that mimic this of Carly, her family, and friends, as a teacher this is unbelievable and something I hope all of my current and future students can achieve. Some children may not be able to verbalize their wants and needs but it is imperative to remember that this does not mean they are not able to communicate their wants and needs. Through this module we have research, discussed, and analyzed different forms of Assistive Technology that enhance children's lives and those around them every day. This is just another story of how a simple AT, text-to-speech software, and a computer, and make the worlds of difference in one family. As Special Education teachers it is our job to ensure we provide all services and supports possible to give every child the opportunity to grow, communicate, set goals, and achieve them. In the end of this video Carly said something that I think wraps up this idea in the best way possible. "I think the only thing I can say is don't give up. You're inner voice will find its way out. Mine did."(Carly)