Very touching selective mutism video of a 6 year old.

I just thought this was a very interesting YouTube video on selective mutism. I cry a lot when I see these, but I think it’s important to remember my daughter is not alone.

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17 Responses to Very touching selective mutism video of a 6 year old.

  1. Marian Moldan, LCSW-R says:

    Wonderful Youtube! Thank you for sharing. All the best, Marian Moldan, LCSW-R

  2. Elvi says:

    hello,

    i have a son who’s seven now and just like haley he was diagnosed with sm when he was in kinder.

    mom to mom, just wanted to know how are you coping now that she’s in 2nd grade. is she in 504 or iep?

    thanks for sharing haley’s video and i look forward to hearing from you soon…e

  3. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Elvi –

    My daughter with SM is now in kindergarten. The oldest one is in 2nd grade. I think you might have confused the two girls.

    At any rate, she is doing really well. They did a good job of preparing her for this year last year in preschool.

    She has an IEP for this school year, though she is speaking fully now in school. I think, the mutism is a thing of the past, at least during school. She does have times when she will whisper to me around strangers, but she speaks freely in front of people at school, and in front of my mother/grandmother, and other relatives where as last year she wouldn’t be able to do that.

    She will keep the IEP through this year, but will likely not need it next year.

  4. K says:

    Hi,
    I am a former selective mute. I am in my 20s and am willing to speak with you mothers with any questions you may have. I am successful and have been talking since 5th grade. it is a long road, but your children will do great with the right treatment. good luck!

    • Hi,
      I have a nine year old daughter who doesn’t talk at school. She has taken 5mg of floxetine in the mornings three days a week since April this year, I have increased the dose to five days morning only in the last two weeks an have seen an improvement with her confidence. She still doesn’t talk to her best friend who she has known since March 2009. She talks at home or certain settings like shopping centres, restaurants or theme parks as long as there is no one she recognises from school. Do you have any suggestions that might help?

      • raisingsmartgirls says:

        I don’t know if you were asking me or K about that, but I was wondering if you have an official diagnosis of selective mutism so that you might get some assistance through the school. I really believe its important to get the school’s involvement to get help to work with her. For us, it was a combination of sensory therapy and speech therapy at school (she was a preschooler at the time). And lots of practice getting familiar with the school and school officials.

        Here’s some information about how the bridge to speaking is gradually introduced (read the middle of the page).

        http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/SelectiveMutism.htm

        Stimulus fading
        Shaping
        Self modeling

        The SLP can target sources that produce more stress, use role play activities to gain confidence, help if their voice sounds ‘funny’.

        Medication without other supports aren’t really solving the problem. It needs to be compassionately supported by all the adults the child is around to help her.

  5. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks K. I appreciate your commenting. I’m glad that you are doing well now. I think that maybe I just might take you up on that. I will email you about your experiences sometime soon about it. Thanks so much.

  6. Clara says:

    Im 16 and i think i used to be selectively mute and still suffer sometimes now. I hate it and its like no-one understands , they think your being stubborn and really the words just wont come out. When i was very young i wouldnt speak at all to strangers and even class-mates and relatives, and even now i hardly speak at school but i can manage the simple things like ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’. Its the most amazing feeling in the world when you are able to speak after so long. I can be myself at home where i relax more and friends i have got to know on their own. I dont think ill ever be my real self around people i dont know well but ive come so far. Try being with one or two people, and dont give up, even if its just a few words, you’re doing great, keep going all you people out there!! 🙂 xxxx

  7. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Clara –

    Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I am so touched that you felt able to share a little of your story. I know, having seen this through my daughter’s eyes, how painful and difficult this must have made things for you. I am glad that you are managing to make a few good friends.

    I wonder if your parents understand you and what it’s like. Perhaps you can show them my blog and have them look at my daughter’s story. Maybe they will recognize something here and find something reassuring and helpful to them. There are some resources on the sidebar they can look into.

    Best wishes,

    Casey

  8. Elvi says:

    Hello Clara & K,

    Would either one of you confirm starting medication would help this disorder. My second-grader son has an IEP in place since March and we noticed the regression since then from him. We went to the SM specialist last week and confirmed, the crying and other behaviors were indication of not being happy in his school so she’s recommending to transfer him to another general education school and start of Prozac medication. I was not comfortable but the pychiatrist reassured me that this will help and the result will kick in within a month…..Your thoughts please….

    Thanks,elvi

    ps…prior to the regression, he was coming home of telling me that he was misuderstood again by his strict teacher and was put to time out for somethng that he didn’t do. again, when these incidents happened, he started the crying loudly spells and screaming at school. from my son’s explanations, the crying spells were more of his frustrations of not being able to speak and defend himself because of his sm condition….not what the teacher, school psycihologist and school caseworker emailing me of showing symptoms of being emotionally disturbed…..i believe they are all prepping him out of his school and recommending him to go to one of san diego schools for emotionally disturbed……we are scheduled to have an emergency IEP meeting this week……coming up with behavior support plan from the SM specialist and revisiting our denied request for one-on-one aide for him as his inclusion aide to help him transition from 8:45 to 3:15 school hours…..rather than being left alone on his own and whe he displays boredom he’s inclined to do inappropriate behaviors then he’ll get time out for sure from his teacher and the anxiety will be increased again and he’ll totally withdraw from this teacher and continue to be unhappy at the school….etc….or should we just pull him out now and homeschool him till june 18…and start fresh at another supporting and nurturing school environment? its been a struggle to wake him up in the morning to go to school now…..lost mom

  9. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Elvi –

    I will do what I can to communicate with both K and Clara for you, so that perhaps they would come back and post their thoughts on the matter…if they think they would have wanted or done better had they had medications to help them.

    So the only choice for your son is to change schools, not change teachers?

    My personal feelings on the matter…

    Currently, your son is with a really strict teacher, and the only way for him to “fit in” to the institutional classroom is to be medicated? The medications don’t help HIM, they help the SCHOOL DEAL with HIM.

    I think your mama’s heart knows this is not what you really want for your son, nor what is best for him.

    Personally, if my daughter never was able to work out her selective mutism, I would have, without a doubt, homeschooled her and NOT medicated her.

    My other thoughts are on the matter involve emotion-coaching your son. There are some resources that you might find helpful about emotions and feelings for his age group here:

    http://www.cyh.sa.gov.au/HealthTopics/HealthTopicCategories.aspx?p=287

    Let me try and find some other books for children’s anxiety before you medicate him.

  10. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Oh, and here’s one specific thread on anxiety in children that you might get more immediate feedback on at Mothering.com

    http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=1214989

  11. jackie j. says:

    My daughter is now 11 years she is sm its very hard dealng with finding good teachers who wants to deal with her. I HAVE TO NOW HOME SCHOOL HER WHICH ISNOT GOOD.

  12. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Jackie –

    Is homeschooling not good because you are not feeling up to the task? There’s some great ideas at Mothering.com’s discussion group. You might get some great ideas and support.

    Here’s another place for some ideas

    http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/index.htm

    Homeschooling can be a lot of challenge, but it can be very rewarding and fun for you too.

  13. lunasea says:

    I have a soon to be 8 year old daughter who was never diagnosed but its clear that something was amiss from infancy, as she never speaks a word to anyone except me, my husband and her siblings. Once when she was 3, my husband overheard a member of staff in the creche scream at her to shut up when she was crying, and we took her out of that creche once and for all since then. That was the first and only time we have ever witnessed (or rather, overheard) any child-carer treat my daughter that way, and since then, I quitted my studies and have been a stay-at-home mum ever since, quite wary of entrusting her to strangers.

    She had a lot of difficulty in school settings too, since starting formal schooling at the age of 5 (we live in England). We’ve changed schools for her, but nothing’s changed. She got harassed in school by bullies every day and had only 1 friend if she was lucky (and that friend was not a reliable friend, sometimes she bullied her too and just ostracises her for nothing). Things came to a head this year when these 2 boys in her class have been racially-abusing her and chasing her round the schoolyard hitting her on the hard. Every time I speak to her teachers or the school head I got fobbed off and my daughter’s allegations quickly denied. They’d say they weren’t aware of anything like this going on, and constantly tell me that she’s doing well in school, etc. My daughter always had school refusal, on the really bad days she’d cry and scream all the way to school in defiance because she just wouldn’t want to go in there. Anyway, I’ve taken her out of school since July now… and she’s been homeschooled ever since. The head of the last school she attended was very disapproving of my decision to homeschool her and tried every way she possibly could to stop me – getting the education officers from the authorities to make unnanounced visits to my home, threatening letters, etc. Yet the ironic thing was that after we voiced our concerns about my daughter’s non-speaking and our suspicions that she might have selective mutism to school teachers, the school head, and even to our GP, nothing was done. I tried to press for her to be assessed formally by a professional, but nothing was done. One of her teachers (when she was 5) looked at me like I’m crazy and treated me condescendingly when I voiced my concerns, and they maintained she was just “normal shy”, and instead suggested she might have a hearing problem and sent her for a hearing test, which of course turned out to be fine!

    I have lost all my faith in the state education/health establishment. I’ve seen other children in nurseries or schools she has attended who were formally assessed and statemented as Special Needs and hence the school has allocated the resources to help them deal with their problems. Yet it seems that something like Selective Mutism does not really bother them. A very quiet, shy girl in class is a good student in their eyes. A very hyperactive ADHD or a very erratic Autistic child, or a child with Down’s Syndrome clearly deserves to have more attention shown to them, as their problems are so noticeable and so likely to cause disruption in a classroom setting. If your child’s only problem is that they don’t utter a word but they are doing well in school subjects otherwise, then its not a problem to them. This is the feeling I get from the state system.

    We don’t have the money to have her formally assessed by a private professional, and don’t live in an area of the UK where Selective Mutism is taken more seriously by the authorities in charge… Unfortunately it seems homeschooling is the better option than school, but the problem is that there are few homeschoolers where we live now and the most we can do is to take her to meet-ups once a week at most, otherwise we resort to sending her to ballet and swimming classes in an effort to give her more opportunities to meet other children… However she resolutely refuses to talk to anyone in the classes and at the meet-ups she would only talk to this one girl (whose mother I’ve now befriended and we regularly schedule playdates for her).

    My concern now is that she still will only choose to speak to certain people and not others. I could take her out and meet more people, and if she’s lucky she’ll find someone she wants to talk to, but still that wouldn’t solve the initial problem of her refusing to even say hello to a neighbour whom we’ve been on friendly terms with for 3 years, or to answer a simple question at the hairdresser’s when our regular hairdresser asks her if she’d like to have juice or not while she waits.
    We’ve tried bribing her to speak to people too but it wouldn’t work!

    I’m now wondering if perhaps this is just part of her character and that now the responsibility lies with me to stop wanting her to change. She will make friends eventually, but only with a select few and only if the circumstances permit. She will never be the popular one, or the outgoing one, but she never wanted to be someone like that anyway, it seems. Ever since she started homeschooling, she’s become a far happier child. She really doesn’t desire more friends, she is happy with her life. I’m now wondering if I should try to just stop worrying so much about this now… ? I suppose you can’t blame me for worrying though…

    • lunasea says:

      P.S. She has like 2 friends now in her life whom she sees quite regularly, and she happily plays and engages with them (and talks to them!)… But its just that she would not speak to any other child other than them… not even to their friends. Tried explaining to her how that might be interpreted by others as really strange or even rude behaviour, but she wouldn’t change. She also has 3 other friends in her life whom she sees rather infrequently because they live so far away. I have to say that all of the friends she has in her life at the moment are the children of people we are friends with, so yes the problem is still the same : if we don’t find the friends for her, she would probably never be able to make any on her own. I can’t help worrying about her… wondering how she’d cope when she’s an adult, etc… but I suppose if her friendships remain enduring, perhaps that’s still better than nothing.

  14. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Lunasea (great username by the way).

    I, of course am not a professional, but if my daughter was faced with the same situation as yours, in the same type of educational environment, I would have done exactly as you.

    I can tell you that I know you want her to flourish, but adulthood is such a LONG, LONG way off.

    Your child might be selective mute, or she may be extremely shy due to excessive bullying, but even without a diagnosis, there’s things that you can do to encourage her social/emotional development.

    Our daughter had (relatively mild) sensory issues with contributed to her SM, so we did everything we could do to help her with sensory calming activities. You can look under the SM journey tab at the top for ideas.

    It’s a positive thing that your daughter has 2 friends she talks with now. As best you can, help her cultivate those friends. Have her write letters or email to those other three friends. It will help her feel connected to her peers, even if she can’t see them frequently.

    My daughter, when the SM was in full force, could only whisper to one friend during class time, but spoke with her outside school. She wouldn’t talk to anyone else outside the immediate family and my husband’s mother and aunt.

    I had really no problem with my daughter not talking to strangers, store clerks, etc. It made things a little difficult for me when people didn’t understand when I said, “she’s very shy” and still persisted in trying to get her to answer. It got to the point where I wanted to say, “Look, she CAN talk, she just doesn’t like the way you look so she won’t talk to you”.

    What I would do, to ‘compromise’ and encourage her to make some sort of acknowledgment to others who are trying to be genuinely nice to her. For instance, instead of saying “thank you”, she could hug if it was a friend of the family, or if give them a hi-five or a handshake if they were a stranger, stuff like that.

    As much as possible, expose your daughter to small social situations – small groups. Go to the park or the library when it’s not terribly busy. Encourage new friendships, but don’t force them. See what happens.

    But, yes, the more you push, the more difficult it will be for her. You want to remove obstacles and make her feel comfortable, not force her deeper into herself by having expectations that are impossibly high.

    Oh, and breathe…it’s not easy, it IS worrisome, but the best thing to do is to trust that your daughter DOES talk where she feels comfortable.

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