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.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


Trying to find a childminder in the village we were living in was an almost impossible task. I rang quite a few before I found the number for Dee. And the first time we met her, she put us completely at ease. She sat on the floor, and while nattering to me she engaged in play with Isla. Isla spent that first meeting making cups of tea, and brushing Dee's hair. She was talking to her, although not a lot, words were coming out of her mouth and she was having a conversation. I was happy. Isla was content. I was sure Kimi would love Dee too. So, on the 23rd August 2010, I dropped the kids off with their new minder, and I started my new job.

That first week went quite well. I was enjoying work, and the children seemed to be settling at Dee's. The one problem we had was that Isla refused to go to the toilet the whole time she was there. We had started potty training Isla earlier in the summer. She was doing really well, had only had a couple of accidents. But she was going nearly 8 hours every day without even attempting to have a wee. Yet as soon as we got home from picking her up, it was a mad dash to the loo before she wet herself. Talking about it with Dee we agreed that she would try and persuade her to go to the toilet a couple of times through the day, but the next time she went it was the same story. The day we were going shopping straight from Dee's house, I decided Isla had to have a wee before we went. I didn't want her to have an accident in the car, and I was sure she wouldn't last the 20 minutes to get to the supermarket. I put her on the toilet and stood with her. She had silent tears rolling down her face. I felt mean, making her do something she obviously didn't want to do, but I knew she had to have a wee.

For the next few days after that, every time we mentioned the toilet to Isla, she seemed to freeze and go silent. It is this time I am sure, that she started with her mutism. Every day Isla would chatter away in the car about what she was going to do Dee's house, but as soon as we pulled up outside she would go silent. She was happy though. She would walk into the house full of smiles for Dee, and would fuss over the baby she was also looking after. There was never any concerns in her enjoyment there. She always came home smiling aswell. She just went through every day in silence.

Dee managed though. The two of them developed their own special sign language, Isla rubbing her tummy when she was hungry, or standing as close as possible to Dee when she wanted a hug. Dee seemed to know what Isla wanted without her having to talk. And the baby loved the attention from Isla, even though she didn't verbally communicate with him.

After 5 months of silence at Dee's I thought that starting Isla at pre-school might help her come out of her shell. I enrolled her, and waited for her strat date at the beginning of the spring term...

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