I recently posted a question on the Confident Children Facebook page asking parents what they wish others understood about selective mutism. The comments and messages soon started flooding in. So what were the responses...?
"Parents, what do you wish others understood about selective mutism?"
"That selective mutism is not a choice, and that it's both person and situation dependent. I would prefer the term situational mutism.
The importance of early intervention. That selective mutism gets harder to treat as they get older. That while we wait for them to "grow out of it" the mutism will become more ingrained, and therefore the treatment will take longer.
She’s not being stubborn.
That my son is very intelligent and just needs encouragement to show his full potential.
That selective mutism is NOT a choice.
That she isn't just extremely shy. Selective mutism is a real and debilitating disorder.
I think school staff often see that an SM child isn’t necessarily failing academically and therefore think SM is something that can be left. I struggled to get school to see that SM wasn’t going to disappear.
That it's critical they receive support and interventions to avoid a secluded and depressed child.
That it’s not selective.
It’s not a choice and not just something they will grow out of .
That adults can do courses to help them understand selective mutism and the young people they work with. It’s such a rewarding and deeply wonderful experience to work with a child with selective mutism.
That it's not just about speaking. My daughter speaks at school (but not in any other social settings), but has so many other issues that are connected to SM, such as not coping when there is a sudden change in the daily routine of her school day.
Getting the class teacher to work with you is key.
That it’s not in their control.
It is a diagnosis, not a symptom.
SM is not just about verbal communication. Sometimes she can't use non-verbal communication depending on the person and situation.
That she won’t snap out of it.
Just because a child looks happy doesn't mean they aren't extremely anxious. My daughter can appear ok to others who don't read the very subtle signs of anxiety...then we get the aftermath at home.
That it's not a competition who my child talks to.
Selective mutism is not a choice".
The Confident Children Facebook page can be accessed here.