Selective Mutism : When the vulnerable don’t fend for themselves…

Selective Mutism : When the vulnerable don’t fend for themselves…

Kindy (Daycare) had become more enjoyable for Kathryn and I think this was because she now had friends. She is always selective in who she makes friends with. She’s never been part of a group of friends but gravitates more towards one or two.

She was able to “communicate” with her teachers via her friends and she actually looked happier when I dropped her off in the mornings. (What more could a mother ask for?).

A stray cat had made the Kindy his home and she absolutely loved him. He would greet us at the gate, jump up on the fence and walk alongside it and then wait at the door for us to go in.

His mouth always dribbled when we said “Good morning” to him, giving him a stroke on our way in, responding with a “meow“. This made her laugh. One of the teachers would always ask her to come and help give the cat some food, she loved this and readily done so.

Communication before was someone saying or asking something and getting a completely shutdown blank stare. No emotion, just a cold-faced stare. I normally felt uncomfortable with this and would say “Kathryn, why don’t you answer? X is asking you a question” etc. She’d just look at me and I would apologise to the person saying, “She’s just shy…” because that would be all they would understand and I didn’t need to explain something, which I myself didn’t quite understand.

After about 2 years, I noticed that she was responding better by nodding her head “Yes” or shaking for “No“. It was progress…slow but, positive.

There were two incidents which come to mind where I felt completely helpless but had the fighting spirit of a tigress to protect my little one. In the outside play area at Kindy, there’s a big wooden block with steps where the kids can climb up and go on the slide down the side. One boy was pushing in and ended up pushing her off. With no bars on the sides, she landed on her back and bruised it a bit from the impact.  She was 3 at the time…

If anything happens at Kindy and your child gets hurt, you get an Incident report on the register to sign and acknowledge that you’ve been made aware of it. We weren’t too happy about what had happened and only got the full details from her later the evening. She refused to talk to me after I picked her up and remained shut down until later that evening. She told me that the boy was pushing in and it was her turn so she wouldn’t let him pass. Knowing my daughter, she probably stood her ground and wouldn’t move. However, the difference, in this case, is, because she doesn’t talk, children tend to push her around and get away with it.

There’ll always just be one side of the story since she doesn’t speak…

On another occasion, I picked her up one afternoon and she had a swollen blue eye! My heart began to race because I saw the note, looked at her eye and couldn’t find any teacher to explain what had happened. It was as if they were avoiding me. I didn’t leave until the centre manager came and spoke with me. She told me there had been an incident with a little boy who was retaliating against one of the staff members. He was throwing a tantrum and ended up hitting one of the staff in the face. He then threw a car at Kathryn and she was hit under her eye. I felt like a bull seeing red…But, what could I do? Their policy is not to let the parents sort it out amongst themselves but his parents were informed and told to deal with him especially since he was close to being thrown out because of his behavioural issues.

It took me a long time to get over that incident, in fact, I still see that little boy and his mother from time to time and just have flashbacks with all the anger coming back.  I was angry but I can’t really say who I was more angry at…

Bevan and the boys gave her a boost by saying things like “We’ll come and sort him out!” Jamie even accompanied her to Kindy the next day, being an overprotective big brother.

We used to talk to her and say, “You need to start talking, it’s the only way. You need to stand up for yourself“. We did this countless times…we tried speaking calmly, she’d end up fighting with us, which just caused us to lose it with her because it seemed like we weren’t getting through to her. It went nowhere and just increased the frustration for her as well as for us.

Moments like these are what make it extremely hard for me. I wish Kathryn would talk and stand up for herself. I have seen her cry in front of others but quietly, refusing to even let a whimper out. It breaks my heart and I feel helpless. I prayed at that point in time that she would just “Come right and start talking“. I kept telling myself that she would grow out of it and in time, everything would be OK.

If only I knew then what I know now…

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