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.

Friday, 20 January 2012


Right then, let's start we we left off yesterday.

Isla had always been a 'normal' toddler. She would have the odd tantrum and argue with her sister over toys. When we moved house her tantrums became a daily occurence, and it wouldn't be once a day, it could happen 7, 8, 9 times, sometimes more. She would suddenly go into a rage over having been given the wrong bowl at breakfast, or I'd chosen the wrong colour pants for her to wear. She would shout and scream at my nephew, C, if he started playing with one of her toys. When she was in a mood like that, no one could do anything about it, and she would cry, scream, hit and kick until all of her frustration had abated.

It upset me, seeing my little girl like that. Kimi had been such a placid baby, and a happy little girl. Isla was the complete opposite. I know people always say no two children are ever the same, but to have such a contrast between the two of them was shocking. I was told that I was too soft with Isla, that I was letting her get away with too much. I tried my hardest with her, to help her not have tantrums, but how do you do that with a 2-year-old? I was constantly tired as well, which I suppose didn't help, but at the time I was working 3 night shifts a week, and looking after the kids through the day. I didn't sleep much!

I decided to send Isla to a playgroup, just twice a week so that I could get a couple of hours sleep after I'd been working. We went to have a look around. It seemed nice enough and the staff were friendly, but Isla clung to me like a limpet. After her first session the play leader took me to one side. 'She hasn't really done anything all day. She didn't want to play, and she hasn't said a word,' she said to me. I didn't really think anything of it. It was the first day in a strange place, with strange people and strange toys. I had sort of expected her to be a bit quiet that day. But it carried on the next time she went, and the next, and the next.

I was struggling with the travelling to and from my night shift. I didn't like the half hour drive I had to face at the end of my shift. I had to look for a new job, something closer to mum's where we were living. That's when I applied for my home care post. The problem was...I was now to work 4 mornings a week when I should have been looking after Isla at home. That's when we met Dee...

I'll carry that story on tomorrow!

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