SELECTIVE MUTISM STORIES
My daughter, Cassidy Rose, is a beautiful child, and like her older brother and sister, always had a tendency to be on the quiet side in public. When her father passed away after a brief illness when Cassidy was four years old, she quit talking to people outside of our immediate family. At first I handled it only by mother's instincts, which told me not to push and not to let others push her. This was quite a challenge since so many people just didn't get it. They thought she was being rude. She was very bright and very verbal at home. One day a friend told me she heard about something called Selective Mutism on the local tv newscast. I checked it out and knew right away that was my Cassidy.
Cassidy was diagnosed shortly afterwards with SM, and a therapist started seeing her for play therapy. I briefly thought about home schooling her since I didn't want her to have to deal with added anxiety from public school. But I decided that we should at least try Kindergarten and see how things went. I made sure to talk to teachers and principal who were very understanding and helpful, and assured me they would have her talking by Christmas. Throughout the year, she started to whisper to her teacher a few words now and then and make noises to some of her friends. Progress, but not what we had hoped for. It was exhausting for her to hold it in, poor thing. She wanted so much to talk. I could see it on her face. She would hold it in until we were alone and then she'd let it all out to me.
It was actually Christmas time a year later, when she was in first grade, that we had a break through. She was visiting her older sister and brother-in-law and they had a few friends over to play games
(Taboo was the favorite one). Her sister could see that Cassidy wanted very much to play. Cassidy was very good at word games, so her sister found a way for her to feel comfortable. She saw that somehow the ice needed to be broken, so she told Cassidy to whisper "Hi," to one of the friends, and then they all just started playing. It was a fast-paced game and Cassidy did not feel pressure or was not worried someone would stop and say, "You're talking!" because they were playing the game. Once she played with someone she would just talk to that person after that. Eventually she had played with so many people she didn't remember who she'd played with and who she hadn't.
Today Cassidy is 15. She has been in choir in school, she was a lead in Fiddler on the Roof in 8th grade, she was in Speech and Debate tournaments last year as a freshman in high school. No one would ever think she ever was so quiet. I am so proud of her for overcoming so much.
My name is Zoë, I'm 19 years old from England. I recently discovered "Selective Mutism". Probably only a small amount of time ago, maybe 2 months, I burst into a fit of tears when I saw a video about "Selective Mutism" because I was watching a child re-live something I had to go through when I was a child, in a classroom. Not replying to the teacher, and feeling like a complete idiot, completely embarrassed, but couldn't reply or answer them.
I am pretty sure I'm an adult with Selective Mutism from how, if anyone with authority speaks to me, I don't reply. Feel stupid...and rude, but can’t help myself. I want to just reply, but I can’t. I haven't grown out of Selective Mutism so much. I completed High School age 16, 3 years ago and I've failed 2 attempts at college due to struggling to speak in class, and I even struggle to speak to doctors unless I completely trust them and they're EXTREMELY friendly.
I'm not just shy. When I was a little girl, I couldn't reply to people along the lines of teachers, people in a classroom, or family members other than my mom, and one cousin who I was really close to.
I would only talk to about two friends if necessary in a classroom. Inside the class while everything was going on, I didn't speak at all. Some teachers laughed at me or got frustrated and some made me feel bad. I thought I was a pretty naughty child, ignoring them when they spoke to me. Others thought I was just really shy and treated me extra kindly. I know I had Selective Mutism, I urge you to just not laugh at it and believe its pretty much a condition where a child is already suffering from severe shyness/anxiety.
I'll start with my son since his is most important. He is about to be 7 years old. He loves school (1st grade), sports and is dying to have a friend or two from school. He doesn't speak to anyone in school right now, he's been too scared to join a sports team, and whenever we try to help him develop a friendship or two it doesn't work out. The kids he gravitates toward seem to like him fine initially, but lose interest after he continues to not talk to them. He participates well in school until talking becomes necessary, and he's actually getting great grades. In our area, there aren't any qualified professionals to even give him a diagnoses of SM, let alone treatment of any kind. There are a few places within a couple hours of us, which we'd be willing to go to, but can't afford to go out of network, nor can we afford a place that doesn't take insurance.
The school and I are working closely, but none of us really knows what we're doing so we struggle to make sure we aren't making things worse for him. The best thing he has going for him this year is his teacher. She's a fantastic teacher to begin with, but she lives next door to us so she has seen him growing up his entire 7 years. She's very aware of his capabilities and she and I are able to be in constant communication about any progress, regression or concerns. Since he has a certain comfort level established with her, we feel he's a bit ahead of where he was at this time last year. He makes eye contact, will use thumbs up or down, nods his head, writes simple answers and even laughs. The laughing isn't out loud yet, but she says he laughs all the time.
As for my other story, when I first learned about SM because of my son, I read all the descriptions to my mother and asked her who it reminded her of. First she said my son, then she said me - when I was younger. We had never heard of it before, therefore I was never diagnosed, but we now feel I would've been if there was such a diagnoses to be made. I participated in sports my whole childhood, had friends and spoke to them, but I didn't speak often in school. One teacher even called my parents in and told them I should be evaluated for mental retardation. This continued until I was in 7th grade when my parents were once again called to a meeting at the school. Assuming it would be the same story of "well, she's a good kid, but she won't talk to us" my mom and dad actually laughed so hard they cried (while stunning the teachers) when they said "She's a good kid, but she won't shut up!" We have no idea why all of a sudden I felt comfortable enough to talk, as I was not in treatment of any kind nor on medication. I have no recollection of the events that led to that meeting, not sure if I blocked them out or what, but 7th grade is old enough to have a memory of it. My fingers are crossed daily that the same will happen with my son, sooner rather than later. Until we get him a qualified diagnoses and help, that's all I have - hope. I see the struggles, and know the struggles he's going through and it actually breaks my heart everyday to see this. I'm lucky he isn't ill, and I remind myself of this daily, but not having a voice is scary and I hope we can help him find his soon.