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Selective Mutism: Can you hear me, now?

 

Building Empathy: 5 Read Aloud Books for Parents and Tweens

We are about nine months into our Selective Mutism (SM) journey. We grow through what we go through; this is her journey, our journey, and our everyday. If you have not read part one, please take the time and click the link below.

Selective Mutism: A voice not heard.

Cedar Rapids Moms

https://crmoms.com › parenting-wisdom › selective-m…

When I first wrote about Selective Mutism, we were at the beginning, and everything was new, completely unknown, and misunderstood. Honestly, only little things have changed, but we have taken time and steps that have been helpful. I was unaware until after my first writing that our other little was also experiencing social anxiety. She could talk to her peers and make friends quickly, but it was not till later that she could speak to her teachers or other adults within the school setting.

Remember ** Every SM journey is its own! What may work for one person may not work for another. One resource may suggest concepts in different ways with very different results.

Our preschool year has officially ended, and summer break has begun! This is an excellent time to update: 

  • Share a reflection on the last few months
  • Focus and enjoy the present
  • Prepare for the changes to come at the end of August
  • Resources

A fresh beginning

So, the first thing I want to share is that our little SM is now speaking at home and in a few social situations, but there is still a long road ahead.  

She began with simple words right around Valentine’s Day. After months of not hearing my daughter speak, it was much like she was speaking for the first time. Anyone with a young child knows the excitement and thrill of those first words; withholding that excitement and not drawing attention was challenging and necessary. Over the next few days, a few more words started to escape, and soon she began sounding like her old self again. All those things bottled up inside were now overflowing, but we only heard them at home.

On February 28th, we went to preschool conferences. Both of the girls were like open books. The teachers and staff heard them speak and interact with others for the first time as we traveled the hallways. As we moved around, the conversations continued. When we began our second conference, I was so happy when I heard our littles continued to have conversions and not get overwhelmed or shut down. The interaction with not only us but her teacher, one-on-one, was heartfelt.  

I felt we had turned a corner and looked forward to more progress. They were both eager for this change, but some things were still to come. While one little began to blossom in conversation, the other maintained her friendships and saved her stories for at home.

The ART Show 

In April, our preschool did a student art show and craft night. The last time we had an evening outing at the school, we had some BIG steps, and I was looking forward to doing it all again. I was not disappointed. We did everything and spent plenty of time, but it had been almost two hours, and it was time to go. As we drove from the school, a tiny voice boomed out that she didn’t get to talk to her teacher yet. I turned around and headed back, where she held a private conversation with her teacher for the next bit.

**Remember that SM is anxiety and has its timing. It’s not a switch that you turn on and off. When a four-year-old is upset in the candy aisle, we do what we do to handle the situation, whether walking them out or buying it to avoid the latter (no judgment), but this is not the same.

I could have said; we have to get home, maybe you can talk to her tomorrow, but everything would be different tomorrow. With SM, you have to take in the moments in real-time.

Another SM Milestone

As we closed our preschool days with a fun day, the girls and I stayed as long as we could so that they could say every word they wanted and last goodbyes. I wanted them to complete this chapter and remember it for all it was. The one who never spoke sat with me at a classroom table one last time. As we sat, she said through me, talking to her friends for the first time. The emotions that come with that were so empowering. The sadness lifted as she smiled when her friends asked her if she could talk. This moment was not filled with heartbreak but growth.

These are the days

They needed their preschool days. They needed the friendships, the stories, the interaction, and everything they gained from the experience. We have no regrets. Over the summer, we will continue to talk about all those things and kindergarten but casually. Right now, we will live our moments and not overwhelm our thoughts with what will come. I don’t know what to expect over the next few weeks, but I will do all I can to prepare them, myself, and their teachers.

My greatest hope is that someday she can speak without fear, and her world will change when she does.   <3 

Resources:

Book Links:

Unspoken Words: A Child’s View of Selective Mutism Sophia Blum (edited by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum)

The Selective Mutism Summer Vacation & Back-To-School Guide: Recommendations & Strategies for Building Social Communication Skills Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum

I Am Brave Chelsea Gamache

Lola’s words disappeared  Elaheh Bos recommended for ages 8-12

Lola’s words disappeared and came back: Lola’s words disappeared – Activity book Elaheh Bos recommended for ages 6-8

Understanding Selective Mutism: A Beginner’s Guide  Lucy Nathanson

My name is Eliza, and I don’t talk at school  Lucy Nathanson

Why doesn’t Alice talk at school?: A storybook to read to friends and the class about Selective Mutism Lucy Nathanson (***I have not yet read this one, but purchased it for my kindergarten resources)

Podcast:

Outloud The Selective Mutism Podcast

Outloud The Selective Mutism Podcast:  https://outloudsm.com

Selective Mutism Therapy, London UK and worldwide

Confident Children:  https://www.confidentchildren.co.uk

Helpful search terms:

Selective Mutism, Social Anxiety in Children, Separation Anxiety

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