There are so many conditions, disorders, diseases, etc in the world affecting people around us. Most of these we have or will never come into contact with simply because those closest to us remain unaffected…life carries on in this case. However, Selective Mutism is something which has entered my life and just how I deal with it, well…I’m not exactly sure but this is our journey. Over the next period of my life (That could be weeks, months even years) before we get over it all and move onto a better place free of anxiety and fear. When I say we, I mean myself and my 6-year-old daughter who has Selective Mutism.
WHAT IS SELECTIVE MUTISM?
“It can come as a surprise to learn that your bright, talkative child does not speak at all in other environments. This is a tell-tale sign of selective mutism – a little-known anxiety disorder that prevents sufferers from speaking in select situations no matter how much they long to.
If you are concerned that your child may be more than shy, it is possible that they may be suffering from a symptom of anxiety that literally freezes their vocal chords. Children with selective mutism want to speak, but they physically cannot.” – VOICE a New Zealand based charity
I stumbled across this useful link recently, Voice New Zealand and am digging deeper into the silent world where my daughter lives, when outside her comfort zone.
Most people say “Oh, she’s just shy…she’ll grow out of it” but this is where they are wrong. There’s a big difference between being shy and having SM because shyness you can overcome and it usually goes away quickly once self-confidence is learned. In my experience, it’s not about being self-confident but it’s about my daughter feeling comfortable and safe enough to open her mouth and allow a sound to come out. I know that she wants to, I know that she longs to but, I also know that it’s a challenge for her, so she doesn’t.
SELECTIVE MUTISM DOES NOT JUST DISAPPEAR…
“If selective mutism and the underlying difficulties are not addressed in early childhood, the symptoms and behaviour usually become more deeply ingrained and difficult to shift.
Older children, teens and adults often experience a greater intensity of their symptoms as they grow. Untreated, some people are able to create their own coping strategies, but others turn inward and often develop further complications such as depression, agoraphobia, substance abuse, and more. Progressive mutism is one potential difficulty, where the sufferer finds themselves unable to speak in any situation, even in their own home.
It is therefore very important not to brush off potential SM symptoms as shyness, or to assume that the child will ‘grow out of it’. Instead, we recommend seeking additional support for your child.” – VOICE a New Zealand based charity
My aim with this blog is to share the experiences we have already gone through and will continue to have, and create awareness as well as help others who are on the same journey. Awareness and education are key and as I’ve just recently found out, crucial for the support and understanding of the person affected by SM. From time to time, I might use it as a platform to vent (so be warned). The road thus far has not been easy and I don’t anticipate it to be going forward. But, I will do whatever it takes to help my little girl through this…it’s the least I can do.