Ever heard of selective mutism? I hadn’t, until my 13 year old daughter suddenly couldn’t talk to her grandparents, her aunties, our close family friends and some teachers. There’s nothing selective about this awful condition, which is caused by severe social anxiety. My daughter says that the words just get stuck and she literally can’t speak, even to say yes or no.
Thankfully, help is on the way. It took a lot of fighting against the system to reach this point, but getting specialist support is crucial, as selective mutism can persist into adulthood. Untreated, it can lead to a life of lost opportunities, limited career choices and frustration. We are also lucky enough to have wonderfully caring relatives, who are happy to just let my daughter be around without speaking. They know that my daughter wants to communicate and they appreciate her little wave from the car, her brief nods, her suppressed smiles and the twinkle in her eye when a joke is shared.