April is National Autism Awareness Month

We received a special story about a girl named, Carly. Carly is from Toronto and is a young, autistic and non-verbal girl who has learned to communicate so well with the use of assistive technology (like WordQ software) that she now writes an educational blog about autism and has over 13,000 followers on her Facebook page! Read her inspiring story!

Autism and WordQ Assistive Software for Struggling Writers:

How a Cute, Smart but Non-Verbal Girl with Autism Found Very BIG Voice

“…my name is Carly Fleischmann and I have autism.   I have learned how to communicate through the help of technology and now I am able to shed some light on the myths and misperceptions about autism…. I do believe every nonverbal autistic child and adult has an inner voice just waiting to come out…Doctors and scientists are only partly going to help autism.  Technology and innovators are going to bring autism to the next level…I love WordQ 4 helping make my voice heard.”    –Your truly honoured autism educator, Carly Fleischmann (excerpts from her website, carlysvoice.com)

“The iPad or a laptop, along with such programs like WordQ….have revolutionized communication for individuals with autism and other disabilities.”   –Tammy Starr, mother of Carly Fleischmann

(March, 2011; Dover, New Hampshire)When Carly Fleischmann was a young child, her parents were told she’d probably need to be in an institution.  Today, this autistic 16-year old who also has apraxia (that prevents her from speaking orally) communicates on a regular basis — with wit and wisdom, educating the world about the inner realities of autism  — via Facebook (she has well over 12,000 followers!), Twitter (almost 9,000 followers!), email and her own popular website, carlysvoice.com.  Carly’s story has been chronicled on ABC World News and 20/20.  She’s been interviewed on Larry King Live, and cited several times on air by Ellen Degeneris.  (Here are some TV clips compiled by Carly’s mom:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7U1UjZzJLE.)

In her recent Toronto Star article entitled “Unlocking Carly,” Valerie Hauch reports:

“The Grade 10 student types with one finger.  Software programs like WordQ predict words, and she chooses which ones to use…Technology has unlocked Carly’s world and enabled her to tell people what her lips cannot:  She is an intelligent person with opinions, hopes, dreams, she likes cute guys, she has a whimsical sense of humour…She is also helping the families of others with autism understand them…One day, when Carly was 10, she and a therapist were working with the alphabet screen of a device to type words she knew how to spell.  Carly…typed the word “no.”  Then, she typed more words…About six months later, Carly’s sentences started tumbling out.  It was a revelation for her family…her father, Arthur, said:  “We realized that inside was an articulate, intelligent, emotive person that we had never met.””  Reporter Hauch observes that “Without computer assistance, Carly’s family might never have met her.”

The WordQ software (www.goQsoftware.com) that Carly uses is a word-recognition and speech-feedback tool that was developed at Toronto’s Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.  It was designed specifically for people who struggle with writing, often due to various kinds of learning disabilities.  The company’s VP of Learner Development, Neil MacGregor (who has struggled with his own learning disability since childhood), affirms that, “WordQ has been effective for many people with autism, as well as many with Asberger’s and aphasia, helping to make it possible for people of all abilities to express themselves.  We’re very proud to be playing a role in the transformation of many of these lives.”

WordQ+SpeakQ (the latter is an add-on that allows the user to mix typing and speaking) provide support for those with autism, Asberger’s, aphasia (loss or reduction of language due to brain damage) and other conditions, to get their ideas out in these ways:

  • ·         Word choices help avoid repetition and increase writing variety
  • ·         You can expand your vocabulary by choosing from a variety of words with the same meaning
  • ·         Spoken feedback reinforces correct pronunciation of words
  • ·         Read-back uses correct rhythm and pacing
  • ·         Identifying mistakes is easy when sentences or paragraphs are read aloud
  • ·         The selection process turns writing into an interactive experience
  • ·         SpeakQ speech recognition is forgiving of mild speech difficulties
  • ·         You write what you think and feel and hear it read back

Be sure to check ot Carly’s Blog at www.carlysvoice.com, and visit http://www.goqsoftware.com/  to learn more about WordQ+SpeakQ software programs.