Our middle child is one of the most funniest, sharp-tongued, witty people I’ve ever known. Her grasp of sarcasm, humour and cynicism is far beyond her years. And for a six-year-old she sure has a strong grasp of swearing. She is kind, loving, fearless and hilarious.
She is also a select mute. Well, that’s what the experts say. I prefer to call her by her name.
Ever since kindergarten she has not spoken a word to her teachers. At first she didn’t even speak to us, her friends or her sisters at school. But then slowly she began to talk with her best friend. And then bit-by-bit she began whispering to us within the school grounds. She still won’t speak beyond that.
We got some great advice from a speech therapist and we set about giving her the support she needs to deal with her fear and anxiety of speaking at school. Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder, characterised by a child’s inability to speak in certain situations and to certain people. It is most common in children aged five and under and can often be confused with extreme shyness or stubbornness.
She’s just about to finish her first year of school and head into Grade One. Still she has not spoken to any of her teachers or most of her classmates and instead has developed a whole system of sign language. But most recently she had a bit of a breakthrough – she’s started to allow me to video her reading on the iPad and has allowed me to show her teacher. Finally, her teacher’s been able to truly assess her reading abilities and she’s now in the top tier of her class.
She loves to learn and is such a good listener and she is acutely aware of everything going on around her. While other kids are talking, she’s soaking up facts and figures, like a sponge. And in the school yard she is slowly reaching out and making more friends. Hopefully, she’ll feel safer and less anxious to let them hear her sweet and sassy voice.
I’m not sure when she’ll talk in class, it might be a number of years. She might surprise us all and talk sooner than that. But I will not push her. When she’s ready she will talk.
She has so much to say, our beautiful girl. I just hope one day everyone else will hear her gorgeous voice. And most importantly I want my baby not to be scared anymore.
Wish I had an easy answer to help with this. She will probably grow up to be extremely observant.
She’s extremely observant and super awesome x
My 6yo has made a friend in the second half of this year who won’t talk at school. She now talks to my girl at play times and it’s so nice to hear stories of how they chatted about this and that. Wishing your gorgeous girl lots of confidence and love xxx
Your girl is so awesome for helping her friend get brave xx
She is listening, soaking it all in. I have a niece who was exactly the same. xx
She surely is – knows everyone’s business. Bet you niece is the same x
Oh, bless her sweet heart. She is lucky to have a family who will encourage and support her without judgement. x
She is awesome and we are here to support and love x
I have a 5 year old who struggles to speak to adults. He talks easily to my partner and I. He also talks easily with other children but adults are a whole different kettle of fish. He will talk in their presence to me but the minute they ask him a question, it’s like a little light turns off and he refuses to open his mouth. It took him 6 months to speak to his daycare teachers and even now it is only really one teacher that he talks to. The prep that we are sending him to next year has a buddy system with the grade 6 class. I am so glad that they have this in place, because I know that he will be much more comfortable talking to another child if he has any trouble.
I wish your little girl all of the best and she is so lucky to have a supportive family behind her.
Your sweet boy will love the buddy system – they do it at my girl’s school too. They really love making the connections with bigger kids x
She is lucky to have such a kind and supportive Mum and family. My little boy suffers with anxiety and however it manifests it can be hard to watch and help. I hope she talks sooner rather than later but also when she is ready.
Anxiety is such a hard thing to watch when you just want your kids to be happy x
Gosh that’s a tough one. My cousin’s little girl was the same. She is a year ahead of your little one and is making great progress (finally). It’s a stressful, frustrating situation but you are doing all the right things.
So lovely to hear she’s making progress – how wonderful x
It is wonderful to see your daughter being treated with such sensitivity, and I hope she speaks when she is ready. Her sensitive soul will have a story to tell.
She really will. Thank you xx
I am an ‘old chook’ now, retired from a long, happy and successful teaching career. As a teacher of Preps, I came across the occasional selective mute child – all beautiful – and all exceptionally bright. You are right in thinking that your little girl is (silently) soaking up every scintilla of information that pops her way.
But, what I most wish to tell you is that I was a selective mute. Yes, way back in 1947, when I began school at the age of four. (Ok, you do the maths – I am over 70 now).
As a tiny girl I learned faster than many of my peers and could never understand why some children didn’t ‘catch on’ to what we were learning – a fact that may have even increased the anxiety that made me unable to speak at school for two years. The other possible cause/s of my childhood stress is a long story that I won’t bore you with. Suffice to say, I was eventually assessed as a clever child and ultimately became an understanding teacher. Don’t fret for your little one. She’ll be fine. Patience and love is all that’s needed, which is obviously what you are giving.
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I really think our girl is very similar to you in the sense she is extremely bright and eager to learn. It’s for this reason I sincerely hope she speaks soon to progress further – she will get so much out communicating with others.thank you x
Is it really anxiety though? Does she tell you that, or show signs that indicate that that is what it is?
Or is she just happily content to walk to the beat of her own drum?
I didn’t speak much as a kid, never spoke in public and preferred the company of close friends and family, and books to random chatter.
I’m sure you have done your research, and I can see that you are dealing with this ‘diagnosis’ (for want of a better word) with gorgeous compassion, but part of me wonders: is it just who she wants to be, secure and perfect, just how she is?
I think she sounds awesome.
She is totally amazing and awesome and very content to walk to the beat of her drum. Yet not speaking to her educators makes it extremely difficult. When she does speak to someone new for the first time you can see it is a massive emotional step for her and very difficult. thanks for your kind comment
She will be – no, actually she probably already is – the best friend anyone could hope to ever have. x
Kids are indescribably amazing. I hope she finds the words when and if she’s ready. x
Me too. Thanks Bron x