After several visits with our child psychologist, we finally were told of our son’s Selective Mutism diagnosis along with a projected prognosis. The conversation was shocking, to say the least, and I didn’t exactly handle the news well. Here’s a section from the book I’m writing conveying that conversation …
“What?! But he’s only 4 right now, that’s more than double his lifetime until he’s cured.” I exclaimed, as the shock of what I had just heard defied my hopes for a quick recovery.
“As I said, there is no cure for Selective Mutism. He needs to mature and gain control over his anxieties in order to feel comfortable enough to use his voice around others …” the doctor explained.
Hearing such devastating news can crush your spirit when all you want to do is help your child be “normal”. You are an adult and can barely handle hearing it. Imagine if the child was told this information? I feel one of the worst things we can do is tell our children they are not expected to talk for years. Instead, we should approach them with positivity and encouragement. Saying, “the doctor feels it may take you a while to learn to deal with the stress and anxiety you feel” is so much better than limiting your child to a timeline. And in our particular case, our child talked an entire year sooner than the doctor expected. Had we labeled him and informed him of the expected timeline, he may have taken longer to speak aloud in public. Sort of a self-fulfilling philosophy.
Anxiety, at any age is difficult to control. But the best approach starts with understanding. Accepting there is no “shut off” switch to our emotions, gives us an open platform to learn to deal with said emotions. Focusing on small daily improvements is more beneficial than trying to tackle the whole issue. Begin with daily breathing exercises, then adding one more attainable goal each day will help a person to learn to overcome their anxieties, including Selective Mutsim.