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.