Helping ‘Leo the Lion’ find his voice …
Throughout my son’s formal education years, he had many adults take an interest in helping him. Selective Mutism was unknown territory for everyone we met, but at least there were some willing to learn along the way. One preschool teacher in particular made a huge attempt at reaching out. This is a section from my upcoming book telling about the day my son brought home a hand puppet …
“This is Leo the Lion, Mrs. Richmond gave it to me.” My son proudly announced the moment he climbed into the car after preschool.
“Leo the Lion, that’s a cute name. Why did she give you a puppet?” I asked.
With a little shrug from his tiny shoulders, he replied, “I don’t know. She said he can’t talk and wanted me to keep him until he finds his voice.”
Unfortunately, it took 3 years for ‘Leo’ to find his voice. When my son was in 2nd grade, we visited the preschool and he read a ‘thank you’ letter he had written for this preschool teacher while returning Leo. Holding back the tears was an impossible task while listening to his sweet little innocent voice spill his heart about the impact this teacher had on him.
We may not know the best way to deal with Selective Mutism, but the worst way is to do nothing. Yes, I believe it’s even worse than set-backs. Why? Because we can learn from what didn’t work, but without trying, we have no idea how to help change happen. So, if you’re unsure if you’re doing the right thing, rest easy knowing your child will recognize your intent and effort.
This approach is not limited to helping with Selective Mutism but can be applied to other types of anxiety. Trying is the most important first step in your battle of recovery. Theodore Roosevelt said it best, “… the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”