And the private group for the Houston area: https://www.facebook.com/groups/174553706334469/
You are not alone!
We found out in January 2015 that our daughter (7 years old at the time) had Selective Mutism. I always knew that she was more than just “shy” but it took us a while to figure out how we could help her. When she was 5, she told me that she felt alone even when she was with people. It hurt me to hear that and I told her that we all felt that at times, but that she would always have God and her family in her heart. She has always been reserved outside of the house. But behind closed doors, she is a drama queen, loves to sing and dance, play jokes, dress up and play with her brothers. I thank God she is our daughter and that she is here to teach us how to communicate more effectively. We share our story to bring awareness to this challenging issue and answer the question WHAT IS SELECTIVE MUTISM??
It’s a “childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings” – www.selectivemutismcenter.org
DSM-IV-TR (2000) defines Selective Mutism as follows:
1. Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations (in which there is an expectation for speaking, e.g., at school) despite speaking in other situations.
2. The disturbance interferes with educational or occupational achievement or with social communication.
3. The duration of the disturbance is at least 1 month (not limited to the first month of school).
4. The failure to speak is not due to a lack of knowledge of, or comfort with, the spoken language required in the social situation.
5. The disturbance is not better accounted for by a Communication Disorder (e.g., stuttering) and does not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder.
Associated features of Selective Mutism may include excessive shyness, fear of social embarrassment, social isolation and withdrawal, clinging, compulsive traits, negativism, temper tantrums, or controlling or oppositional behavior, particularly at home. There may be severe impairment in social and school functioning. Teasing or goading by peers is common. Although children with this disorder generally have normal language skills, there may occasionally be an associated Communication Disorder (e.g., Phonological Disorder, Expressive Language Disorder, or Mixed Receptive- Expressive Language Disorder) or a general medical condition that causes abnormalities of articulation. Mental Retardation, hospitalization or extreme psychosocial stressors may be associated with the disorder. In addition, in clinical settings children with Selective Mutism are almost always given an additional diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder, especially Social Phobia is common. (DSM-IV-TR) (APA, 2000)
Treatment options are individualized and include a lot of patience plus the removal of all pressure to speak. There is also Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, play therapy, school involvement to help the child, medication, or intense exposure “camps” like those at NYC and Miami. Here are the links to those camps.
Look on my blog page for our story, titled “My Daughter’s Voice”.
I will make updates and share stories here. Email me your story!! Let’s help our kids find their voices!