Today I’d like to write about selective mutism.
Recently I have been invited into schools to support pupils who are selective mute. I’m not sure everybody really understands what it means so thought I’d write a few words to try and explain.
Selective Mutism also known as SM is an anxiety disorder in which a person feels unable to speak to certain people, in certain places, or in certain situations.
It is something I had to deal with not that long ago.
Selective Mutism is NOT the same as being shy. A shy child or young person will ‘warm up’ when they become more confident and comfortable, they may join in when they realise it’s not that bad or hard.
When people hear selective mute they think people don’t talk at all, this is not true. It is being in certain situations that causes anxiety. E.g., in school, large places, new places. Most SM people mostly talk at home or with family, but also friends they are confident and comfortable with.
All SM people are affected differently but in my case, I would speak to a select few teachers in school, when trust was developed and I was confident they were helping. I was mostly affected in high school for reasons such as the size of the school, the noise……
I never knew where my journey would take me but having been on this ‘path’ has helped me a lot when I go into our schools and support younger pupils when they become SM.
I can use my experience to help Teachers, TA’s, Mums, Dads and the young person – what helps, what triggers, what could be done differently. I would never change my SEND journey, it has given me invaluable experience and helped me become the person I am today.
I found a poem I related to. It is Called That Question.
I hope they don’t ask me that question today.
I’ll freeze on the spot. I’ll have nothing to say.
My voice just stops working each morning at eight
It simply shuts down as I walk through the gate
People say, ‘hi’, but I can’t say hello.
Why I can’t say it, I really don’t know.
I don’t understand it – what its all about.
Why I cannot seem to get the words out.
I don’t understand why I tremble with fear.
But when I’m at school I cannot let them hear.
My throat closes up as they gather around.
They ask me to speak but I can’t make a sound.
‘Why don’t you talk’ they ask, ‘are you just shy?’
But I cannot answer. I can’t explain why.
‘Go on’, they say. ‘Just say one word for me!’
But my words get stuck. Not one word can get free.
If they only knew, I hate being this way.
I do want to talk I have so much to say.
I wish they could see that although I am quiet,
I can be fun too! I can be a riot!
I love to play games, to join in the fun.
Or sometimes just sit back and watch with someone.
I love a good joke. I wish that they knew,
I do get the joke! I am laughing too!
If only they knew how I try every day.
I talk without words. I talk in my own way.
I talk with my body. I talk with my eyes.
I say, ‘yes! Me too!’ and….
‘What a surprise!’
I wish they could see that it isn’t my choice.
I may not have words….
But I do have a voice!
But maybe they won’t ask that question today.
Maybe they’ll see me…
And just want to play.
The full story can be found here!