Not everyone has the confidence to speak everywhere...

Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder in which affected children speak fluently in some situations but remain silent in others. The condition is known to begin early in life and can be transitory, such as on starting school or being admitted to hospital, but in rare cases it can persist right through a child's school life.

These children usually do not talk to their teachers and may also be silent with their peers, although they do communicate non-verbally. Other combinations of non-speaking can also occur, affecting specific members of the childs family. Often the child has no other identifiable problems and converses freely at home or with close friends. He/she usually makes age-appropriate progressat school in areas where speaking is not required.

The essential feature of Selective Mutism is the persistant failure to speak in specific social situations (e.g. at school, with peers and/or the teacher), despite being able to speak in other, morefamiliar situations.

Monday, 23 January 2012

More Changes!

Isla started at pre-school in the spring term 2011. I had fore-warned them about Isla's silence at Dee's but was hoping that with a bit more social interaction she would open up more. Isla already knew a couple of children there from going to Dee's, but she seemed reluctant to join in with the activities on offer. The staff at the pre-school didn't seem to communicate well with each other though. There were a number of occasions when a staff member would pull me to one side at pick-up time and say 'Isla hasn't said anything today. Does she talk at home?' I began to get annoyed, having to repeat myself over and over again, 'Yes, I can't shut her up at home. She's a little bossy boots who likes to speak her mind!'. Nothing else was ever said about any concerns they had, but she didn't stay there very long anyway.

In February 2011, we were offered a new house. A gorgeous 2-bed with front and back gardens. We felt so lucky to have the chance of our own place again, so we accepted it. We stayed on at Mum's for another couple of weeks while we decorated the bedrooms and had carpets fitted. We moved in at the begginning of March, and couldn't have been happier. The children were sharing a bedroom, so we had got them bunk-beds, Kimi on the top, Isla on the bottom. We were a bit worried about how they would cope in their new beds. Isla had spent 10 months on a mattress on the floor, and Kimi in a junior cot bed! They loved it though. They'd picked their own wall colours, and finally had all their toys back from storage.

For the next few weeks, we carried on as we had been. I was dropping the kids off at Dee's on the other side of York, she was taking them to school, I was picking Isla up, spending an hour at Mum's,picking Kimi up, then going home. It seemed the best way. Kimi was at one of the best schools in York, and I didn't really want to disrupt them any more than I had to. I was working in the village anyway, so it made sense to keep them where they were. Until Allan changed jobs...

Allan found a new job that he enjoyed more and that paid better. It made sense for him to take it when they offered it to him. But it meant he needed our one car. The car that I needed for work. The car that I was using to ferry the kids over the city and back 5 days a week. And so I had to change my working hours. And the girls had to change school and pre-school.

They started their new school and nursery in the summer term 2011. I was at home through the day now, able to walk them there and pick them up again, then I went out to work in the evenings. Kimi settled into her school amazingly well. I was so pleased. It was her third school in a year, and she was only just 6. I'd really worried that all the upheaveal would affect her schoolwork but her teacher said that she fitted straight in, and she didn't stand out as the new girl. Isla took longer though.. She looked forward to going to nursery, but she was very apprehensive about it. The more she went though, the easier it became. She was happy going (as long as Sarah Bear went as well). The more she saw of the teachers, the more relaxed she became when we arrived. She became less clingy to me, and was quite happy to go and stand at the 'waving window' when I left. I had told her new teachers about the 'not-talking'. They didn't seem fazed by it, and simply told me that they would see what happened.

And that's more or less where we are now, where the serious stuff begins.


  1. I've never heard of selective mutism before but your blog is open and frank and I will keep following to see how your daughter is getting on! Hope your settling in to your new house well! x

    1. Thanks Chloe...I hadn't heard of it either. We're settling in well to the new house (can't believe we've been here nearly a year now!). We're just getting going on trying to help Isla. We've had a couple of false starts due to illness, but I'll be keeping you posted!

  2. Finding this fascinating I had never heard of this before, i will keep reading to see how Isla progresses. Thank you for your honesty.

  3. I've really enjoyed reading your posts - the end of each one keeps me looking for more even though I should be doing something else. I hope Isla can get the help she needs.