Today I was sharing a post on social media about Selective Mutism. I wanted to verify the stats on how many children are diagnosed so I went to Google. Some of the alternate search suggestions showed up and I didn’t like what I saw. The biggest one that got me was this:
Is Selective Mutism Real?
I’ll answer that for you all. It is real. It is very, very real. Want to know how I know this? Read on…
In May of 2017, two of my three children were both diagnosed with Selective Mutism, one day apart. They were in 3rd grade and Kindergarten at that time. A breath of fresh air came with that diagnosis.
Ever since my daughter was in preschool she had been showing signs, but nobody knew. The same became true with my son when he went to preschool. Still, nobody knew.
The biggest sign was the lack of talking in school.
Once my son entered the elementary school with his big sister, the teachers and administration noticed similar characteristics along with new ones. And, the meetings began. Everyone was incredibly helpful in discussing school and home life and coming up with ways to help. But we had trouble pinpointing exactly what was going on. This was months in to my divorce, my littlest being born, and other big changes. While those did trigger certain aspects, we knew it was not the cause since the ‘shyness’ began years before.
At one of those school meetings, the school psychologist said the words Selective Mutism. As soon as those words were heard, I was 99% sure that was the answer.
I had previously heard about SM but I had misconceptions about it so it had not come to mind as a possibility for my own children. Now, almost two years from the time of diagnosis I am continuing to learn more and more so that I can be the best advocate possible for my children who are sometimes misunderstood. I’m hoping to increase the awareness of this childhood anxiety disorder so that it can help other parents find the answer they’re looking for.
Going back to my previously mentioned Google search… Is Selective Mutism real? Yes. Yes, it is. I’d like to share some of the very real aspects that affect my SM kiddos.
*Inability to speak to school personnel in or out of school
*Inability to speak to friends, even the best, in school
*Using a different voice for certain people or whispering
*Inability to do something that is seen
*Massive anxiety meltdowns
*Inability to engage in group activities (gym class, sports, birthday party games, etc)
*Inability to receive candy/toys at parades, trick-or-treat, etc.
Many characteristics of SM can be mistaken as autism, defiance, or just extreme shyness. A child with Selective Mutism is physically unable to speak or engage in specific settings or with certain people, but many are comfortable to be themselves at home. If you think you know a child with SM or simply want to educate yourself more, please visit www.selectivemutism.org which is full of wonderful resources. You can also follow my blog and Social Media as I’ll be sharing more about SM and our experiences.