At home, she is outgoing, loud, bossy, overemotional, sensitive (hurt feelings abound and she has been very sensitive to sounds), temperamental, and not capable of regulating her strong emotions. Out in public, she was shy, clingy, fearful (my oldest was shy too, so this didn’t phase me much). In public settings, she seemed to be “good” and “easy to handle”, but quiet and kept close to me. At home, it was another story. Multiple meltdowns a day over seemingly small things were frequent. She had a persistent negative attitude.
She is an interesting child – walked and talked early, knew her alphabet and colors and could count to 100 by age 4. Now, at 4.5, she can identify planets, and she enjoys the placemat I have with the presidents on them. She knows that Stephen Grover Cleveland was our 22nd and 24th President. No she can’t really read his name, but she did keep track of it when she counted the faces. She recalled this fact a week later. She’s incredibly imaginative and recently sang a little song about toilet paper (did I mention she can be so silly?).I’ve posted other things about her in my Growing In Peace post here.
For three years, I’ve struggled with trying to figure her out and how to help her. Things had gotten to the point I needed answers. I took her for a preschool screening to see if they can tell me that something was wrong, or at least that there was nothing wrong and I could at least relax about that. Little did I expect that she wouldn’t participate in the screening. At all. She went where they wanted her to, quietly and obediently. But she said nothing when they asked her.
I was very surprised, and even more surprised when the evaluator told me that this happens rarely, that *most* kids do eventually warm up and start talking. I thought it was just a fluke.
Her reactions to school were very puzzling too. She didn’t talk at school, and came home and her meltdowns and tantrums increased in number and severity for two weeks before things kind of settled down again.
I have 19 type-written pages of narrative of how she behaved at the evaluation, and at the first few weeks of school. When she still wasn’t talking and participating at a month and a half into school, I came in to observe her myself. I came with a notebook and pen and took notes. I’m glad now I did. She held herself rigidly, never smiled, didn’t talk, didn’t sing and dance with the other kids. Her face showed obvious nervous habits (licking her lips was one).
Now at 6 months into school, and still not doing much (for non-verbal communication and some whispering) and after not talking with my mother when she took her to a field trip.
She has friends, and is comfortable speaking freely around them, but in the school setting, and with other people she’s not comfortable with, she just. doesn’t. talk. My mother suggested for the first time to look into selective mutism. Well, at first I was about to ignore my mother’s advice, figuring my mom was just labeling her unjustly and without a real knowledge of it. Until I actually took the time to check what selectively mute meant. In a nutshell, it’s considered an extreme social anxiety and that it acts as a protective mechanism.
What I found left me dumbstruck. I saw my daughter in all the descriptions. All the behavioral problems we’ve encountered make sense in light of this new information. I’ve made the appointment to begin evaluations with her in April. I’m sure I will be posting all about this in future posts.