Selective Mutism Awareness
In October, and for the cause, I proudly wear a teal ribbon for Selective Mutism Awareness!
A year ago, this journey began. I have written two previous pieces with our story and resources that I found helpful. Again, I am not a professional and use these resources as tools for navigating through our story. What works for us may not work for you, but whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE UP!
Last year was challenging!
Have you ever tried to play a game without reading the rules?
Well, it looked like some wins but mostly losses, wrong moves, and not getting all the benefits of knowing how to play. For us, SM (Selective Mutism) was winning in all the ways.
For longer than three months, my daughter mainly spoke no words, a four-year-old held captive by a fear that we didn’t know existed. The warning signs, if there were any, were vague and hidden inside everyday life, and I have spent hours trying to figure out what I missed and when, sadly, there are no answers.
Significant Changes, Create Challenges
When I look at the last five years, the biggest thing that comes to light is coronavirus. COVID-19 invaded our lives, and the world stopped moving.
The year 2020 was challenging. For months, we tried to do things without doing things, including hanging out with company, going to parks and play dates, and checking out our libraries for programs, school, and some even work. Socialization and face-to-face interactions were downgraded to keep us safe, but the underlying fears and repercussions, to this day, are genuine. (This is my opinion, not a known or researched fact).
If you feel any piece of what I have just written above as an adult, imagine what it was like for a child or a teen, even a young adult just beginning their new life. Although the precautions were necessary, a cause and effect may be staring us in the face, waiting to be seen.
So, what does life look like a year later?
We had a good summer, but the anticipation of what would come when Kindergarten began in August was always front and center. When we walked into the classroom for orientation, a wave of uncertainty passed through me. We are working on introductions and getting to know this new space in our 30-minute window, and both girls are off and about. When finally checking in, they did a quick recap of the ABCs with the teacher, though it wasn’t bad but a little different, keyword different! The ABCs were spoken in a whisper with little eye contact, but they did it. SHE DID IT!
So far this year has been good. The teacher has been able to let comfort stay a priority. Some days, work is more complicated, and some people can not be spoken to, but what is happening is much better. Letter sounds, reading words, simple math, making friends, no one needs a booming voice; kindness and compassion come in small packages, and sometimes they need help to be open up.
Living day to day, that is how we are getting through it.
SM (Selective Mutism) doesn’t just go away; some days are better, others worse, and small wins can have the BIGGEST impact. After all the research and time I have invested, there is one thing I know: SM does not scream out; it is quiet! It affects all genders and all ages, from before three to teens, young adults, and their whole families.
With many unknowns, selective mutism leaves those closest misunderstood, silenced, and emotionally exhausted. Now, hear this: the resources are out there, and support is growing.
I just received this book and will be reading it as my up-and-coming. (From the description) It is for adults and caretakers to understand better selective mutism and other close companions, such as severe shyness and social anxiety.
Understanding Katie: Understanding a Child with Selective Mutism Written by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum. Please share this story of Katie and her mother as they navigate a life with SM. The book opens with an opportunity to identify similarities with Katie. For your person, it is also a coloring book for engagement. (suggested for ages 3-12) You can also check out their website at www..selectivemutismcenter.org
Easing School Jitters for the Selectively Mute Child Written by Dr Elisa Shipon-Blum
This is another good read for all stages of SM. Parents and educators should have this one in their toolbox. It introduces the idea of Social Communication Anxiety (S-CAT). They are sharing ways to embrace school for the student and work with all communication levels, from non-verbal to verbal, all while trying to build confidence and self-esteem.
Keywords and Hashtags:
Find more resources and information on various social media platforms using some of these related search terms: selective mutism, sm awareness, selective mutism awareness, childhood anxieties, social anxiety, social communication anxiety