Yesterday morning, in the middle of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich assembly line, I got a phone call from my middle daughter, K’s, first grade teacher.
I was a bit nervous, especially since the day before yesterday, I mentioned to the principal when I was dropping off popcorn money that she had gotten pushed into her cubby by a classmate and her ankle got an abrasion from it. I thought for sure that teacher was going to think I was a trouble-maker of some kind. I’m not, but that was the second time my daughter got hurt from a classmate – the other time being when another child hit her in the back with a library book because K wasn’t listening to her.
But instead of getting a talk about the incident, the teacher asked me if I thought K would enjoy being a student council member. She told me that since the kids were too young to write essays, it was simply up to the teacher to decide the best candidate for the class. There were two students she was considering, but she called us first.
It seems so strange to me, that only 3.5 years after being diagnosed with selective mutism, where once upon a time she would never have the ability to speak to her teacher and classmates, that she should be selected to represent her class in student council.
I know that in elementary school, this probably isn’t a such a huge thing. But to me, it is. It just brings tears to my eyes. My daughter was once so severely anxious that I worried she’d be picked on by classmates (and for good reason, in preschool they’d get into her face and talk to her as if she couldn’t hear) and pigeon-holed by the teachers as a hassle to deal with. I remember being sick to my stomach, worried that my daughter would never have a ‘normal’ childhood, never would have friends, worried that she would be an outcast, worried that her teachers might never see her wonderful gifts of intelligence, creativity and imagination. I worried that I would have to resort to antidepressants for my child, who at the time of diagnosis was only 4.5. I spent a great deal of time being anxious about that. Those were hard times indeed.
I know I get commentors with selectively mute children of their own from time to time asking me how she’s doing now. I guess I can now safely say she’s doing great. It’s even hard to believe she ever had a problem, except all I have to do is read my blog and remember. I remember thinking I might have to homeschool that child. Not that I would have minded, but knowing how she appreciates having friends now, I’m glad she got the opportunity to make some dear ones through school.
It makes wonder how other SM children are faring. I wonder how the parents are faring. I hope they have seen similar growth in their own children. In most cases that I’ve read, the selectively mute child has wonderful abilities in spite of their anxiety, and, in many cases, their heightened sensitivities are indicative of a very active sensory system that can serve them well, they are highly imaginative, empathetic to others and the child is quite intelligent.
I keep thinking I want to write a book about selective mutism. Not simply about my daughter, but collectively about other children, other families who’ve struggled with it – and I say families because it can add stress on all the family members, who’ve been worried sick for their child, who want to help other families know what it’s like and what helped their child succeed. When I started out, there was simply NO first hand accounts of it, of what it was like to parent a child with SM, except on a message board at selective mutism group.org. Or maybe someone else will write that book. If so, I wouldn’t mind sharing our story for it.
On that message board, there were lots of struggle, but little progress in some of the schools. Teachers had to be educated, and some still didn’t recognize a problem. That’s more than half the battle I think. The teachers can make or break a selectively mute child’s progress. It really worried me to not see many success stories back then. I hope things are better now for those families.
Does anyone have any updates on your selectively mute child? What’s working? What’s not?
Would you mind sharing your stories…maybe if I can’t publish an actual book, maybe I could ask for guest posts. Maybe I could highlight a family each month (or more frequently if their is more interest). If you’d be interested, leave a comment. I’ll contact you and we can talk about it.
If you care to share your story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I could talk to my mom. She’s full of stories (mostly dealing with my teachers and counselors) She’s told me a few. I’ll write them down and send them your way. I’ll see if I can get a few more out of my mom in the mean time.
Thanks Meagan. I appreciate you asking your mom about that.
Be sure to include how you are doing now too.
I found a blurb that I’d written not too long ago. It used to be two paragraphs long but I’ve written more and added to it since I read this post. It covers most of what I dealt with growing up and it has a bit of my mom’s side to it. Should I post it here or would you like to read it in an email? I’d appreciate your feedback either way.
I’ll send you an email…you can send it to me that way. Thanks so much!
I guess I don’t have an email for you. I would love it if you could send me what you have to email@example.com. I just had a mother of an 18 year old girl with selective mutism as me for help. What I think would be great is if you could tell me a few things –
1) when you knew you had SM
2) what it feels like
3) what helps you now
4) what you wish you knew before
5) what kind of support you had or wish you had
6) anything you’d might think would help other children and their parents.
Don’t worry about making it perfect. I’ll make any edits to typos if need be.
Thanks so much.
It’s a huge thing, and I’m just popping my buttons, i’m so proud of her as well as her sisters, And, you & Mr.RSG I miss you all so much, Give my Love, Hugs and Kisses all aroung.
Thanks Mom Gail.
I’m going to email you soon. Been crazy busy. Love you lots.
In case you haven’t checked I’m just making sure the email I sent got through. It’s marked From Meagan on the subject heading.
I’m so embarrassed. I can’t remember the password on that email account. I will keep trying to remember it and get back to you. Thanks for sending me something.
This is so inspiring. My daughter is 7 and in the first grade but nowhere near talking yet. We have a new therapist helping us so we are more hopeful than ever. If you ever decide to write that book, I would be willing to share our family’s story with SM.
I’m having trouble with my yahoo accounts Veronica. As soon as I can figure out what’s going on, I’ll get back to you with the files I have. Thanks for your patience…
I live in Boca Raton, Fl in case any of you mom’s of SM kids live near by. I want to form a group for parents and their kids to meet up and help each other out. Maybe sharing contacts for doctors or any other person who has helped your child in any way. I want to share my story. My son Eyan was diagnosed with SM when he was 3, similar to your daughter he had his flight/fight response on “freeze”, he has sensory problems, also is very cautious and plans out everything, and last he has a high IQ just like your daughter. I find myself reading your blog and thinking that it is quite amazing how similar they are, I just had to comment and share! My son is 7 and finishing first grade in a gifted classroom. It definitely hasn’t been an easy journey, especially finding doctors who can help him. But little by little everything seems to be going better. Apparently, even though he doesn’t speak in school, his teacher informs me that all the children in his classroom love playing with him and that he always has a smile on his face. Also, since Kindergarten I was able to set up a 504 accommodation plan for him and it seems to be working fine. This accommodation includes him having a white board to write down answers or questions, and me going to school to record him doing his Reading Running Record and other verbal exams. Though he does pretty well on the exams and is on a 3rd grade reading level he always seems to have trouble with Reading Comprehension, especially when it comes to questions about facial expressions and such. Anyway, to cut this short I met a wonderful teacher from another school that offered to help my son by playing some word games with him and using techniques used in speech therapy. She magically, ( I say magically because it is still unbelievable to me) from day one, helped my son kind of get out of this shell, helped him break this “shield”. After a few weeks of meeting with her after school, this wonderful teacher met with my son and his teacher at school and played the same games but each day they would meet, they included a different friend. My son has now been answering questions OUT LOUD in class. This has just been an amazing journey and I just hope it continues improving for him. So again if any of you are near Boca Raton please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you Casey and RasingSmartGirls for writing openly about your daughter and sharing her and your story.