What is behind the child silence?

your child is talkative and does not give the impression that in anything he is different from his peers. What is behind the child silence.

What is behind the child silence?
What is behind the child silence?

Our child faces the challenge of starting education. We choose a facility, participate in open days, adaptations, and buy a layette. We've prepared ourselves well. Full of hope, we let our consolation out into the world. The first few days are a bit hard. The child is reluctant to leave us. We take comfort in the fact that it is normal that this is a new stage in his life and everything will be sure to turn out soon. However, the next weeks pass and the situation does not improve. Morning break-ups are becoming more and more difficult, and finally the tutor invites us to a meeting where we learn that our son, our daughter not only tolerates the separation from us badly, but during his stay in his group he does not speak, does not participate in games or discussions , does not eat or use the toilet. A suggestion is made to enroll the child in a psychological and pedagogical counseling center for diagnosis. Perhaps it is selective mutism. You are surprised because this is the first time you hear about such a disorder, and at home your child is talkative and does not give the impression that in anything he is different from his peers. What is behind the child silence.

This is just one scenario. Selective mutism is not always accompanied by separation anxiety, and a silent child may well go unnoticed by the teacher, because he is not bothersome, he is polite, he does not disturb. Then it is more difficult to diagnose. However, there are symptoms that should worry parents and prompt them to take action.

Some observable anxiety emerges from interviews with caregivers of children with selective mutism. Of course, one should be aware that developmental fears accompany every child, but their intensity sometimes forces us to reflect on whether we should go to a consultation. These can be fears related to the darkness, noise, being in a group, dressing up as some fairy-tale character, caution when playing outdoors, trying new food, difficulty in carrying out balances with a pediatrician. Perhaps our child does not speak to someone from his extended family and runs away to his room during Christmas dinners.

What does the diagnosis process look like?

Sometimes we feel relieved that someone has named the child's difficulties, but sometimes we try to contradict them - after all, at home the son / daughter functions normally. The words of the family that "you were like that too as a child and grew up" or "she is just shy" do not help then. What's more, there is a common belief that children are now inventing diseases or, even worse, that they are in fashion.

 Before the meeting with the doctor, we collect the necessary documentation - an opinion from a kindergarten, school, psychological and pedagogical counseling center (the clinic submits an application with a request for a test), recordings of the child's behavior in the home environment and, if possible, in the preschool / school environment.

After obtaining a medical diagnosis, we apply to a psychological and pedagogical counseling center with a request for an opinion on the need for early support for the child's development (when our child is in kindergarten) or a decision on the need for special education (when attending school). In cases of a mild form of selective mutism, an opinion with a recommendation to provide the child with psychological and pedagogical assistance at the institution he attends is often sufficient.

Which doesn't help

Our approach to the topic of non-speech in kindergarten / school is of great importance in the process of recovering a child from selective mutism. It is too much pressure for the child to focus on whether or not the child has said anything. Instead of asking "did you say something in kindergarten today?", Ask "what were you doing interesting today?"

Must Read: Zero waste “ a way of life without burdening the planet

It is very important to give your child a signal that we understand his fear, that it's okay, that many people are afraid of something, but that we will do our best to help him, An outstanding British therapist, during her training sessions, points out not to promise the child that we will help him talk, because he will be afraid of failing us, which also causes unnecessary tension. The child also senses our perplexity with his silence. In a situation where he fails to help with our help, for example, to answer questions from a neighbor, it is worth changing the topic or just saying goodbye. Sometimes we feel as if we can bribe a child to speak, but we must not succumb to this temptation. We must also be aware that there are many myths about selective mutism, such as the one that children manipulate us. If anyone tells you that your child is not telling you to get your attention, you can rest assured that they don't know anything about the disorder.

What the therapy should look like

Therapy should take place wherever the child is unable to communicate verbally. Therefore, we mostly work in a kindergarten / school. In-office therapy conducted only in a clinic is ineffective and may even increase anxiety. The child should learn to speak without fear in the conditions of his daily functioning. Before starting therapy, remove supporting factors, prepare a plan, and appoint an action coordinator.

Allows the best solutions to be tailored to the specific child. about working on selective mutism in the field. In conversations with neighbors, doctors, salespeople or extended family, the 5-second technique works, the main goal of which is not to answer for a child (if the answer is not given, repeat the question or transform it into one with a limited choice and we wait 5 seconds for an answer after each question - it's a long time, contrary to appearances!) and the triangle tactic in which the parent acts as an intermediary in interactions with other people.

Selective mutism most often occurs between the third and fifth years of a child's life, if the child remains silent after the adaptation period in the facility after 4-6 weeks, he should be referred for diagnosis. You should be aware that ignoring selective mutism can lead to serious consequences, such as social phobia, depression, and in adulthood - difficulties in finding employment. Working on selective mutism is not complicated. It is important to take action, even before receiving an official diagnosis. The sooner it is, the greater the chance of overcoming the disorder.