Learning a secret language

For a long time, I’ve known my communications deficiencies were deeper than being limited to English, with a smattering of French and German. My animal communication skills are weak. (I’ve written about some of my attempts on Catching Courage: Compassion of crows, Participating in a miracle, Standing broad jumps, Black Boy). Sometimes I mess up communication with friends and family.

A young autistic women is helping me to understand that my language limitations extend to people whose experience of the world is very different from my own. I understand how easy it is to get overwhelmed by incoming stimuli. When I read about “highly sensitive people“, I can relate. In noisy crowds, I quickly become over-stimulated. I need lots of quiet, alone time. I score high on an online self-test of sensitivity.

But Carly Fleischmann’s sensitivity to her environment and to all kinds of stimulation is like my sensitivity on steroids. An interview with Carly was shown on ABC, CNN and CTV (Canada). That led to a flood of emails from people wanting to know more about autism. Now Carly has a Web site, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account (@CarlysVoice). Having heard Temple Grandin talk about her autism, I have some sense of Carly’s courage in becoming a visible and in-demand spokeswoman for autism.

Carly is opening the inner world of autism to those of us who stand outside, uncomprehending. She writes, “If I could tell people one thing about autism it would be that I don’t want to be this way but I am. So don’t be mad; be understanding.”

A Toronto Star interview gives insight into this remarkable young woman, who uses a laptop and an iPad to communicate “with wit, wisdom and typical teen chutzpah”.

I’m going to follow Carly on Twitter and Facebook. She helps me see what I’m missing when I stop at externalities instead of making the effort to learn the many languages by which we communicate.

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