Selective Mutism?

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Stormcloud

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Does anyone here have it or have you heard about it? My youngest daughter has it, she also has ASD. She is currently seeing a psychologist but won't talk to him.
 
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thatchickinallblack

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I have known 2 people with it including one who I was a Group Leader for in a summer camp. I don't have it specifically though I do become unable to talk at times as part of my anxiety.
 
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Stormcloud

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How did they cope with it? My daughter won't talk to anyone apart from her immediate family.
 
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thatchickinallblack

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Wow that must be really hard on her and the rest of your family. The girl in the group in summer camp could talk some times but it was explained when she first arrived that when she couldn't not to force her to and that we should still involve her where possible even when she couldn't talk. I think that idea that if she spoke it wasn't that we expected for her to always be able to helped with her anxiety which triggered the mutism.

I don't know as much about how the other person coped (this was while I was in primary school) but I remember his dad being around a lot when most parents weren't and he could talk to him so and I remember him writing sometimes when he couldn't talk to he could still communicate in a way.
 
Setsuna

Setsuna

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I had selective mutism from childhood and it was absolute hell. No matter how much you may desperately wanted to speak, you just couldn't. The anxiety was overwhelming and there were a lot of times when I'd hate myself for not being able to do something so basic and so seemingly easy. Speech is a fundamental and basic way of communicating and not being able to do so means that one of the key ways you can express yourself is gone. It can make you feel extremely helpless, vulnerable, frustrated and hopeless. People with selective mutism need unconditional understanding and love.

I've always found the illness being called "selective mutism" a bit inaccurate. Myself and others who have suffered it prefer to call it "situational mutism" because we're not consciously selecting to do it. It is out of our control. It's not because we don't want to engage with people. I guess it's called "selective" because we can speak with certain people, but then again, it's not really our conscious choice to speak to some and not to others. I personally could speak to family and some friends, but absolutely couldn't speak to anyone else.

Please keep the following in mind when dealing with your daughter:

*She may be aware of how this is affecting you (depending on her age) and may feel guilty and ashamed at herself for not being able to do something so basic like speaking. This is extremely important in understanding why she can't speak to her psychologist - the worse she feels about it, the more she will retreat into her shell due to anxiety. Not being able to speak (even though you have the physical ability to) can make you feel like a failure as a person. She probably thinks other people are angry or frustrated with her lack of speech, including her psychologist. I used to think people were angry at my "rudeness" (due to silence) a lot, so please reassure her that no one is angry at her or disappointed in her.

*She may be desperately wanting to speak. She's not trying to be difficult and she doesn't want trouble. I'm sure you're a wonderful and caring mother so I doubt you'd think she was being difficult, but one of the things that hurt me the most as a mute child was when people assumed I was being difficult and trying to start trouble with my "attitude/rudeness" - truth was, I was very shy, easily intimidated and the thought that people hated me for going silent (especially when spoken to) made me extremely depressed and made me feel like I was a bad person.

*She may encounter people in her life who say things like "just say it!" or "spit it out!" like it's the easiest thing in the world... but drawing attention to her mutism is not going to help. It'll just make her feel self-conscious and worse for not being able to speak, which in turn will make her feel like she is letting people down. Please educate others who encounter her to not force her to speak.

*She may feel better expressing her thoughts in other ways, like writing or typing something out. I can't guarantee anything since I'm not a professional and am only speaking from experience. It just helped me to write a diary/keep a blog.

*Selective mutism is a very isolating illness because it makes you feel as if the whole world can speak while you can't. Let her feel included in things while not pressuring her to speak.

*Sometimes people judge selectively mute people solely on their mutism. At best, we're the "shy, quiet ones who fade into the background" and at worst, we're nothing more than "the rude/stuck-up one." People forget we have personalities. I was mute and shy, but also fun-loving, geeky and a little goofy. I was happy when people recognized that my illnesses wasn't a part of my personality. It was one of the few times I felt normal and glad that my actual personality was coming out. It made me feel like I actually could express myself!

I grew out of mine in my early twenties but it only took that long because I had CPTSD and other illnesses related to my development. I also wasn't able to get any psychological help with my mutism during my childhood, so I can't comment on how she is engaging with her psychologist. It may be worth finding out how much the psychologist knows about selective mutism. She may engage better with a psychologist more educated on the subject.
 
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Stormcloud

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Thanks Setsuna, My daughter is now 19, At school the teachers thought she was quiet but I knew there was more to it and she wasn't diagnosed with it until she was 14. She has only just started seeing a Psychologist and he does seem to know a lot about selective mutism, she talks to him through typing on a laptop. She also has ASD and really struggles in life, She hides in the bedroom when we have visitors and just freezes when she is around people and she won't go out anywhere so she is rather isolated, If and when she goes out and it is very rare that she does then she will go dizzy and sick and I think it's due to her anxiety. She has no friends either because of the selective mutism. I feel so sorry for her and I wish that I could do more to help her and I must admit that I feel helpless at times.

Thank you for sharing your story and I am glad that you have grown out of it. I know this illness has a really bad affect on a persons life. xx
 
Setsuna

Setsuna

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No prob, Honeyflower.

I know it's sad to see, especially in your own child, but she would probably appreciate knowing that her mother is someone she can always turn to when things get overwhelming. She'll need your unconditional understanding to feel like she belongs and like she deserves to be here.

It sounds like the psychologist has the right idea in trying to communicate with her non-verbally. For me personally, writing things down did help me quite a lot, but I also gave off visual cues with my body language like nodding or looking towards something to indicate it. At worst, I'd completely freeze up and just stand or sit there for a while. Just be patient if and when this happens and speak softly and reassuringly.

I also used to draw and paint as a coping mechanism, and that's something that allowed me to focus on something other my problems and the way those problems made me feel. When you lose one way of expressing yourself, finding a new way can offer some relief. If at all possible, you could try integrating something creative like arts and crafts.

I can't do much and I don't know about the ASD, but if you need more insight on what it was like to live with selective mutism (like your daughter, it also affected me most in my teens), you're always free to ask me :)
 
R_Sxo

R_Sxo

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Does anyone here have it or have you heard about it? My youngest daughter has it, she also has ASD. She is currently seeing a psychologist but won't talk to him.
I've heard about it from a book I read, it's called Silent Boy by Torey Hayden (my favourite author). Hope you're okay x

Much love <3
 
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Stormcloud

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Thanks and I am always very supportive and try to be understanding of her, I just wish that she had a friend that she could talk to, I think she feels lonely at times. She nods too when she is asked a questions or she shakes her head for a "no" She does enjoy colouring in the adult books, she says it helps with her anxiety and stress. She also gets depressed at times.
 
R_Sxo

R_Sxo

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Thanks and I am always very supportive and try to be understanding of her, I just wish that she had a friend that she could talk to, I think she feels lonely at times. She nods too when she is asked a questions or she shakes her head for a "no" She does enjoy colouring in the adult books, she says it helps with her anxiety and stress. She also gets depressed at times.
I don't know too much about selective mutism, but I've heard that child abuse or traumatic experiences can cause them. Have either of these happened during her life?
 
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Stormcloud

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I don't know too much about selective mutism, but I've heard that child abuse or traumatic experiences can cause them. Have either of these happened during her life?
Not that I'm aware of, but I have asked her and she says "no" x
 
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