Friday, October 18, 2013

Selective Mutism and My Family

Have you ever heard of Selective Mutism?  I had no idea it actually existed until my youngest daughter refused to talk during her entire year of preschool.  That's right, from October through May, she didn't say anything to anybody at school.

We thought she was shy.  So, whenever anyone tried to talk to her; like waitresses, her doctor, or other kids at the playground; we would apologize and say "Sorry, she's really shy."  Honestly we thought going to preschool would help her 'break out of her shell.'  Boy were we wrong!  Not only did she not talk, but she wouldn't wave to her friends either.  She would only shake her head in response to her teachers.  Plus her preschool was at a VoTech, so she had two adult teachers and 15 or so student-teachers; and she didn't develop a bond with a single one of them.  She somehow made friends but wouldn't speak to them.

How did we find out about Selective Mutism?  Well, one day we were taking our daughter into preschool and the grandfather of one of the little girls mentioned it.  He is a school counselor and has seen Selective Mutism before.  We were surprised that there was a name for what she was dealing with, besides shyness.

She's had the same pediatrician since she was born ( five and a half years ago) because our other two kids were seeing her.  But, our little girl won't talk to her either; and she won't open her mouth or anything for the doctor.

It's like she literally shuts down.  She won't look people in the eye and she doesn't acknowledge them.  It's her world and they don't exist in her world.

She has been in speech therapy, as recommended by our pediatrician, for about six months.  She was supposed to go twice a week, but once we started we found out our insurance doesn't cover Selective Mutism, so we go once every other week and pay out of pocket.  The speech therapist has recommended a group therapy, but I'm not sure we can afford that.  My daughter has what's called a Picture Board to communicate at school, unfortunately she refuses to use it.

An example of a picture board, but not the same one she uses.

As if all this wasn't enough she won't talk about her day either.  The only thing she will say when I ask her questions is "no" or "not telling."  "Not telling" means a number of things; but nothing specific.

I don't want you to think she doesn't talk at all.  She does, she talks a ton, to us-her family.  But, if she doesn't want to tell us something, she won't.  She is stubborn, the most stubborn person I have ever met.  If we were to ask her why she doesn't talk at school, she won't say anything at all.  I ask if she is afraid and she will say she's not afraid of anything.

We have been back and forth about what could have caused this.  She has an older sister and an older brother that she can follow and learn from.  My son is the most outgoing person I know, he loves talking to people.

It seems as though she has gotten worse in environments like school and the doctor's, but when we are at restaurants she will actually whisper to me what she wants to eat and drink.  She used to just shut down and not say anything if the server was there, we had to make sure we knew what she wanted before anyone came to the table. So we have her getting better at restaurants and worse other places.  At school she won't even talk to us most of the time because she doesn't want anyone else to hear.  I actually have to say to her "we are alone, no one else can hear you now."  

This is a constant, daily struggle for us.

Do you have a child that is a Selective Mute?  Or do you know someone that does?  I would love to hear from people on this topic.

No comments:

Post a Comment