Arthur Fleishmann talks about the challenges and victories of raising a daughter with autism after the release of their book Carly's Voice.
How important is humour?
It’s critical. It’s our non-medicinal anti-depressant. With humour, you can say things that are inappropriate, because everyone knows it’s a joke, and it allows you to vent.
What advice would you give other parents?
As hard as it sounds, never take no. What you want to do often is to take advice at face value and move on, because you’re just so tired of fighting. But if we had listened to the doctors, we probably would have moved Carly into group home. And we would have had a patient, not a daughter.
You can’t be too hard on yourself. You will lose patience. You will scream. You will throw things. You will say things to your kid you’re not proud of. It’s gonna happen. And these people who say, “I welcome autism, it’s a beautiful thing”? There’s nothing beautiful about it. Carly would rather not have autism. She’d sure as hell like to go on dates and speak and not have these impulse and sensory processing issues.
What do you want for Carly’s future?
I want her to be able to have a really productive and rewarding life, and I want other people to be in it — not just her therapists and her parents. I’m dancing around the word independence, because I know she’ll never be fully independent, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have a really rich life.
And what about your future?
I want to continue working, because I love my job. Maybe I’ll write more and travel some more. Maybe I’ll spend time with existing friends and make new ones, because one of the costs of autism is that it can be quite isolating. I’d like to have some of things at 50 that my friends had at 30. So I guess, in fact, I’m the one who’s delayed.