To be quite worried about my daughter's extreme shyness?

(161 Posts)
21stCenturyDropout Tue 02-Jul-13 21:22:44

I am getting increasingly worried and frustrated about my 5 year old Dd. She is a lovely child, really creative and funny and doesn't stop chatting when she is around her close family.
However, she started school in September and has found it hard to be part of group activities or anything that involves speaking or being centre of attention. So far we have had to watch her struggle through school activities like the nativity play and sports day. She couldn't even look up during her nativity play. Every parents evening her teacher says she is doing fine. Not the most outgoing child, but quietly confident doing her own thing, which is encouraging. But she can't bring herself to speak to adults who try to engage with her, and takes a very long time to warm up in social situations. Her birthday party was really awful as she couldn't even bring herself to sit at the table with the other children. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed that my child is so lacking in confidence.
My husband and I were both shy as kids, and still find some social situations a strain. I understand that some people are introverts and that it can be a real strength in life to be more sensitive. But I am so worried for her future. I don't want her to go through life missing out and feeling socially crippled.
What can I do to help her? I am so desperate to help her through this.

CrapBag Tue 02-Jul-13 22:09:57

My DS can be a bit like this but not to the extreme you describe.

We signed him up to karate. Trying to give him some confidence as well as exercise and an enjoyable activity. He is still shy and can hide a bit with the instructors and he has been going for a year but I am sure I can see some difference in him.

With his peers he is quite cocky and very outgoing, but he wouldn't even ask my dad for a ride in his car the other day, I had to do it. I am hoping that in time it will pass, if not I'll have to accept it. I was a very shy child and still am to the point that people generally think I am serious and reserved. I'm not though.

exoticfruits Tue 02-Jul-13 22:26:22

If you and your DH were shy as DCs then it is quite likely that she will be too.
You can help by being outgoing yourself and chatting to everyone, invite people around for coffee etc. Don't draw attention to her shyness, don't force her to be outgoing and don't enable her shyness,
Show her how to do it in everyday life and she will copy as she gains confidence. It will take time. DCs do as you do and not as you say.
Lots of DCs are shy. At Christmas there will be lots of posters complaining that their DC didn't get a main part and yet the DC probably wanted a place on the back row of the chorus.
I was very shy as a child and nothing makes you less likely to change than people making an issue of it.

cocolepew Tue 02-Jul-13 22:29:26

Why would you be ashamed?

Embarrassed and ashamed? Yes you should be - of yourself.

Get a grip.

exotic is spot on. Stop banging on about it and stop making it an issue.

We are all different.

Please don't feel embarrassed and ashamed that she is so shy. You just need to give her the time to do things at her own pace, even if it does mean lots of teeny tiny baby steps.

If she finds group settings difficult then, for example, don't have a big birthday party for her, instead invite round just a few friends to celebrate. Try not to make her feel uncomfortable and to ensure that social engagements are enjoyable and not a trial for her.

Try and find a hobby that she can take up where she is not in a big group environment. Maybe playing an instrument? Being good at something is such a great boost to confidence.

I was very much like your daughter. Couldn't speak in certain circumstances and I had lots of rules and fears with regards to socialising in big groups. It did get better, but it took time.

hexagonal Tue 02-Jul-13 22:42:16

could she have selective mutism? it's an anxiety disorder and is especially horrible if your parents are ashamed of you for it.

celestialbows Tue 02-Jul-13 22:44:41

My dd is very similar even with certain people she's known all her life. I don't know the answers and she is only 3, but I try to treat everyday social situations as normal and prep her if we are going to do anything out of the ordinary. I try and talk through what's going to happen before anything I know she struggles with.
I have had huge issues with anxiety which I guess she has inherited. I do feel bad about it at times but there are occasions where she's hugely confident so I don't worry too much.
Nursery say she is one of the quieter ones and they like having quiet ones to balance out some of the , ahem, spirited ones.

exoticfruits Tue 02-Jul-13 22:45:37

I hated birthday parties as a child. Too many parents seem to want their child to be the centre of a social circle and you get all the angst when their child isn't invited to a party, probably the DC is like me and would have hated the party of someone who merely happened to be in the same class. Did you actually ask her who she wanted at her party? Maybe one child for tea would have been better,
I think that you are projecting your own feelings on to her. Just give her time to develop in her own way in situations that she feels comfortable in. The teacher was quite positive. Many small children are frightened of standing on a stage. Would have been comfortable if the Head had said 'and we now call upon 21stCenturyDropOut to give a vote of thanks to the DCs'? I could do that now but it took me over 20yrs to get to that stage.

exoticfruits Tue 02-Jul-13 22:47:51

It isn't selective mutism- the teacher gave a positive report. As a shy child I can tell you there is nothing worse than being given a label.

binger Tue 02-Jul-13 22:59:50

You could have been describing my dd aged 5. She is 10 now and although still quieter than most of her peers she is a fairly confident girl now. The thing that surprises me most is when I see her with her friends, she is a different child than she was 5 years ago. She loves performing now (at her dance shows and class assemblies). She's still quiet in class participation settings but is a hard worker and gets on we'll with everyone.

I spent so much time worrying about her but she really has grown in confidence. I don't think she'll ever be one to want to be centre of attention but she's popular and compassionate which are great attributes.

Try not to worry, they grow so much at school and she'll find her way.

IdreamofFairies Tue 02-Jul-13 23:09:24

my dd is very quiet she has days when she wont speak to her teacher at all, all day not saying a word, thankfully these are getting less now.

she wont go to any ones to play but is happy to have someone here.

i never force her to do anything just let her do things at her own pace as already said everyone is different.

take things slow, make sure she is going to enjoy anything you organise and that she receives plenty of positive attention this will increase her confidence and hopefully reduce any anxiety she has.

HoppinMad Tue 02-Jul-13 23:10:08

Not much advice to offer but I can empathise OP. I have an extremely shy 3 year old, I know he is still small but tbh I cannot see him becoming confident any time soon. He has made friends at nursery but still refuses to engage with the staff and is almost mute in their company. Its difficult because like you, DH and I were also shy as kids and I always hated being so shy and remember hiding away when we had visitors over, never willing to put my hand up to answer a question in class despite knowing the answer, etc. So seeing him like this makes me feel very frustrated, not at him but at myself and the whole situation as I really feel guilty in a way. That he is the way he is because of us, because of OUR shyness and I dont want this holding him back in life the way it did me. Could that possibly be why you feel frustrated? Its stupid feeling guilty really as its something that cannot be helped, its part of who we are and my lovely df is in his 60s but a shy person still but I dont blame him for my shyness!

Back to my point though, it can be a little saddening when week in, week out as a parent you take dc to play groups almost religiously, becoming familiar with the other kids and see them interact and play so well but your own dc hardly utters a word and wont leave your side. It can be a little embarrassing too when other parents/staff make comments by pointing this out sad. I have been through it with ds and his anxiety when he would see the playroom full of people. I stopped for a while but with hardly any other social interactions at the time decided to continue.
Now, I try not to pressure him to talk at nursery if he chooses not to, as his keyworker and I have realised it makes him more reluctant to speak and interact so have left him to it and he seems happier tbh. I encourage him a lot to talk to certain friends and family though I admit that can be a little frustrating as he is also quiet with his gps who we see regularly, and will only nod or shake his head most days. Its hard.

crumblepie Tue 02-Jul-13 23:13:28

my dd was so shy when small , at toddler group would never interact with anyone so i stopped going, at preschool she spoke to one teaching assistant only in a whisper, in infants she stopped talking for a whole year outside the house and in school , got offered counselling but i didnt want her labelled ,all i did was never ever make a big deal of her shyness , just spoke normally if she didnt answer i never pushed it just got on with what i was doing, she just started talking again one day outside and it snow balled from there , she is now a 14yr old gobby mare and has a really nice group of friends , im sure your dd will get her confidence in time .

Burmillababe Tue 02-Jul-13 23:21:59

I was like that as a child - I was an only child and very self sufficient emotionally - I didnt particularly like being around others - and the more I was pushed, the more I hated it. I still spend a lot of time alone by choice - it is certainly not a negative thing as i love my own company! Fortunately my parents were not embarrassed or ashamed though.

Goldmandra Tue 02-Jul-13 23:23:59

My DD1 was like this but even more extreme as a child. Birthday parties were always a trial and the photos of her own birthday teas with two or three friends are all of her turned away from the cake burying her face in me. We aren't allowed to sing Happy Birthday to her ever.

She has always hated being the centre of attention and would do anything to avoid being talked to by a teacher or unfamiliar adult. School was quite an ordeal, as were Brownies, dance classes, swimming lessons, etc. I wish these days that we hadn't tried so hard to keep her in those groups.

This behaviour all made more sense when we found out that she has Asperger's Syndrome (not suggest that your DD has).

We always tried to accept her shyness and made a point of not pushing her because I remember what that felt like as a shy child. After the diagnosis we backed off even more and found ways to make it possible for her to remain in control of her own interactions. That seems to have been the right thing to do.

She's now 16 and her confidence has recently increased. She has found friends who accept her for what she is and she is comfortable in her own niche. She socialises in small groups and has a date for her prom later this week. She'll never be the life and soul of the party but she has found a way to fit in socially which suits her.

Today she went to our local town with four friends, had some lunch, bought a couple of things for her prom and hung around just enjoying each other's company for a while. If you'd told me three years ago that she would be doing that I probably would have decked you for taking the p* out of her. I truly never thought I'd see it happen.

Give your DD time and support. Don't push her to do things which don't feel comfortable and help her to see that she doesn't have to be the centre of attention to make a positive contribution. If she wants to sit and watch the others play at birthday parties let her do just that. Hopefully, one day, you'll watch her blossom into a beautiful 16 year old who's looking forward to her prom too .

FreyaSnow Tue 02-Jul-13 23:36:01

Being shy is not the same thing as being an introvert. I am an introvert but not shy. I don't find it at all difficult to talk to new people or groups; I just find it tiring after a while to be around other people constantly talking and like to have time on my own to get my energy back. I have a friend who is an extrovert (he gets his energy from being around others) but is very shy. We just accept that he can talk one to one but will be quiet when we're out in a large group, but he definitely is still enjoying being there.

Both my children are shy, which I didn't really know how to deal with as I'm not. They have been fine. They are not amazingly overwhelmingly popular, but it means they have both formed very close friendships with groups of other quiet children. DD has had the same best friend for ten years and DS has had the same group of close friends throughout the whole of secondary school.

I would say not to worry about it. It seems to me that shy people have an advantage in that they form very good, close and long lasting relationships which from what I see on MN, is a good thing as the lack of such friendships can lead to loneliness in more popular people.

ilikemysleep Tue 02-Jul-13 23:41:43

exotic fruit my son has selective mutism and it wasn't diagnosed until he was 11 because from reception to year 4 he spoke just enough that it was never raised as a serious concern, because he could and can answer if he is directly asked a work related question. Teachers giving a positive report doesn't mean that there isn't a real issue, where selective mutism is not completely pervasive it is often misunderstood. OP, don't discount selective mutism as your DD gets older. What can be passed off in a 5 year old as 'very shy' can become a serious issue in a 10 year old. My son was labelled anyway as he got older. he was labelled rude, because he couldn't look adults in the eye and answer them (he has no problems speaking to children, though all SM children differ). He was labelled defiant, because he 'wouldn't' (actually 'couldn't') provide a description to a dinner lady of an incident he had witnessed. I now have an 11 year old who is unable to order food in a cafe, unable to speak on a phone, unable to go into a shop and buy sweets, because I was made to feel like I was being silly when I raised concerns over my son's communication skills and told he was 'just shy'.

I cannot tell you whether your DD is or is not selectively mute, but the info I found really helpful from the SMIRA website was this page

Going back to exotic fruit's post, I would like to say that if you did feel your DD might be selectively mute, and this was confirmed by a SALT, then there are helpful resources out there. My son has found his diagnosis very helpful. He now knows why he finds communicating so difficult and he is working with support on a programme to develop his confidence. Just yesterday he went in to a cafe and asked the woman behind the counter for a can of coke. He would NEVER have done that even a month ago.

NatashaGurdin Wed 03-Jul-13 00:26:12

I must admit I haven't read the entire thread (will do so as soon as I can as am interested from a personal point of view) but please investigate further if you think your child has Selective (not Elective which implies some sort of choice on the part of the subject) Mutism. I had this as a child (am now 46) and wish I and my parents and teachers had had the insight that modern studies have had into this anxiety disorder because its fallout affects how I live my live now and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 07:27:27

I think that you are projecting your own situation ilikemysleep, and although I wouldn't rule it out as a possibility I can see nothing in the OP to suggest it.
Both parents were shy as children (maybe they are still shy now, it hasn't been said) and yet OP is ashamed to have one and wants her to be everything she was not.
I was merely a shy child, nothing more. I never shut up at home, I chatted away to those I knew - adults and children- I found it difficult to speak to strange adults, I hated being the centre of attention and I would never take part in class discussions etc unless directly asked a question. Lots of children are like it. My neighbours DS wouldn't even be in the back line of the chorus - he helped with the lights.
There is nothing worse than people drawing attention to it, trying to force it, treating it as a disability, or being embarrassed about it. Just treat them normally and gradually you gain confidence. I can go into a roomful of people I don't know now and chat and I can stand on a stage and talk to a hall full of people- it took years to get there.
I wonder if OP could take to the stage in amateur dramatics now and yet she is ashamed and embarrassed that her very young DD can't cope with a nativity play. My DS sat on Granny's knee in the audience, dressed as a shepherd for his first nativity play. By 11yrs he had lines to say and did it. He was never going to be a lead character. hmm

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 07:30:40

You have to be careful,Natasha wishes her parents had investigated - if my parents had investigated it would have had a detrimental effect on me by making out I had a disability when I didn't.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 07:33:04

I think that OP needs to ask herself 'would she go on a stage now with confidence?' If so 'at what age she became comfortable with it' and in that case 'why does she expect her DD to do it at 5yrs?'

I recommend reading 'quiet - the power of introverts in a world that won't stop talking' - this might help you appreciate your dds character and ways to cope.

canweseethebunnies Wed 03-Jul-13 07:46:13

ilikemysleep I suffered from selective mutism as a child and went undiagnosed. I didn't even know it was an actual disorder until I saw a programme about it in adulthood. I was just labelled as rude and defiant. I was actually deeply ashamed about it, but there was nothing I could do about it. A thoroughly unpleasant experience that would definitely have been helped by a diagnosis and someone explaining to me that I was not a total freak! Thanks for the link. I will have a good read, as I still don't know that much about it and have had no support around it at all.

Sorry to hijack!

ilikemysleep Wed 03-Jul-13 07:53:57

exotic fruits of course I am projecting my own situation, exactly the same way that you are! Did you read my link? If you are unable to initiate or ask for help or contribute to class discussions then you have a communication problem that is affecting you. If that is compounded by the teacher thinking you are rude or offensive or controlling or choosingto whom you speak and when, then that will be to your detriment.

Because you are glad no-one intervened and you still made progress doesn't mean that the OP's child doesn't need any intervention. My son and Natasha both have / had different experiences. The OP can consider the possibility that may not have occurred to her previously that her daughter may have selective mutism and act accordingly. Your stance of cutting it straight off as 'it's not SM' in your earlier response and saying there's nothing worse than calling attention to a communication problem or saying children have a disability when they don't in this later one seems to me to potentially put the OP in a difficult position if she thinks that she does need to investigate further. If the OP were to decide to have further investigations, a speech therapist or psychologist would advise as to whether the child is just shy or selectively mute after appropriate assessments, she wouldn't get the label willy nilly. The problem is that most people (including lots of teachers and even some psychs and SALTs) think that a child has to not speak at all in school ever to anyone to 'count' as being selectively mute, and that is not the case. So a teacher is unlikely to raise this.

In terms of no evidence for SM, the OP says she 'can't bring herself to speak to adults who try to engage with her'. She 'couldn't look up in her school play' (saying lines in a school play is a LOW communication load and likely to be on the easier end of communication for an SM child. The language is given and the situation entirely predictable. OP's DD managed to say the lines but couldn't look up. In less predictable situtaions she apparently cannot speak at all). Yet she 'chats away at home'. What would you consider to be markers for SM if failure to speak in certain situations isn't it? My son was 'just very shy' at age 5, people forgave him. By the time he got to be 9 and still couldn't speak when an adult spoke to him, it was 'rude' or 'defiant'. Kids get labelled by adults. Lets make sure that the labels are the right ones! BTW my DS doesn't think his SM makes him 'disabled'. He just knows why its been hard for him up to now and he is now getting support to overcome it. And the adults in his life no longer think of him as rude.

dotnet Wed 03-Jul-13 07:59:05

I can't offer any practical suggestions really, but I'm sorry you feel upset and it's understandable. It's very unlikely though that your dd won't move on gradually and - eventually - even be able to manage a 'stilted' conversation with a friendly adult!
It's hard, this socialisation lark, for a lot of people. Children grow though, and their social skills grow as well. Having said that, if I had a magic wand and could give my dd any gift, it would be - confidence. Confidence is a massive asset. You can pull the most amazing tricks career wise etc if you have confidence, even if ability is lacking. Not for nothing does 'confidence' begin with 'con'!

kelda Wed 03-Jul-13 08:01:32

If you want practical suggestions, I would just invite over one child at a time for a play date or birthday party. There is no point inviting half the class over if your dd is too shy to enjoy it.

Just invite one child, and keep them occupied with organised activities - nothing complicated - crafts games like snap.

Hissy Wed 03-Jul-13 08:11:57

I've known painfully shy toddlers, that blossom at nursery.

I've known painfully shy Reception children develop and grow into children on a par with their peers.

The MAIN thing in this is NOT to react, worry, panic or show that it's a concern to the child.

It'll be OK.

You and your H turned out OK didn't you?

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 08:12:30

All I am saying is that you have to be very careful. Treating it as a disability would have been the worst possible thing for me. OP was shy as a DC- it is highly likely she will have a shy child.
Mine was just shyness- all the attention drawn to me would have made it into a real problem when it really wasn't.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 08:13:23

Exactly Hissy.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 08:15:15

A lot of people don't understand shyness - it was a huge relief to me to find teachers who did.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 08:16:19

Why does OP think that if she and her DH were shy as DCs she will have an outgoing, confident DC?

samandi Wed 03-Jul-13 08:28:16

As other posters have highlighted, you could stop being embarrassed and ashamed of her hmm

Lj8893 Wed 03-Jul-13 08:31:59

I was extremely shy as a child, not with my family etc but with other people I was awful!

Roll on several years I have a musical theatre degree and have done many many shows, auditions and am never afraid to perform in front of people.

I'm quite often told to stop talking so much Cus I chatter on and on. And when I tell people now that I used to be shy they laugh at me.

2rebecca Wed 03-Jul-13 08:35:47

If she's shy I agree with those who say stop organising big parties, a birthday should contain things the child likes not the parent, and get her doing small group things or playing one to one. Some kids who have never been to child minders or nurseries and who have a SAHM find the transition to school difficult.
I wouldn't discuss her shyness with her but just be supportive but maybe do a few more sociable things as a family than you would normally do and encourage her in hobbies she enjoys to build up her confidence.
I would work on your own confidence as well as maybe you have avoided socialising as a family due to that.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 08:37:49

Seeing the parents being outgoing and confident is much the most helpful thing.

shewhowines Wed 03-Jul-13 08:59:09

My DS was very shy as a young child, particularly with adults. At nursery he followed his friend round all the time and talked to no one else.

It wasn't learnt behaviour. I talk to all and sundry, all the time. Yet both my kids would put their heads down and refuse to say hello back when friends wallked past them.

And it is embarrassing when they are too shy to say thank you etc to adults who give them things or talk to them. Understandable and I never made an issue of it but you do feel uncomfortable.

In fact I probably should have made more of an issue of it. I probably babied him and allowed him to sit on my knee etc and made excuses for him too much. I perhaps should have made him say thank you etc. I would prompt him but never forced him. I don't know though, perhaps it would have made it worse. It got better when I had a more "deal with it" attitude but perhaps he was just growing up anyway.

He's now a popular, confident boy with his peers and not too bad with adults.

Try not to worry too much. She'll find her own way and as long as she is happy about it, then leave her to it.

mamadoc Wed 03-Jul-13 08:59:11

I'm not going to judge you for occasionally feeling embarrassed and ashamed.
I love my DD so much and am very proud of her but she is very shy and at times yes it is embarrassing.
DD is 6, just finishing Y1. She has a small group of friends who she is really comfortable and quite confident with, she's usually fine with adults she knows after a warm up period but with unfamiliar adults she won't say a word. Not even good morning to her teacher for most of the year. She will almost never answer or speak up in class. People try to speak to her and she just doesn't reply-it does look rude.
I have felt embarrassed because I know that other adults are judging her as being rude. One family member has said I should discipline her for it but I don't feel that's going to help. I have tried to reward her when she does manage it but it rarely lasts long. I am hoping she will just grow out of it.
I don't have any magic answers. Getting angry about it doesn't help, bribery doesn't really help. I try to talk about it to her and explain that although I understand she is frightened others might not but she is really embarrassed and just says she knows already but can't help it.
I think just trying not to put pressure on and lots of praise for trying is the only thing you can do.
I think DD gets it from DH as MIL says he spent most of his childhood hiding behind her skirt and he's turned out just fine.

shewhowines Wed 03-Jul-13 09:06:35

Yes mama adults do judge you. My elderly granfdfather in particular used to be very vocal about it.

CHJR Wed 03-Jul-13 09:11:24

Oh, God, yes, those terrible moments when you realize your child has inherited the exact, precise trait you have always most hated in yourself! YABU and YANBU, and it’s pretty clear from your OP that you do sort of know that. Her life already ruined at age 5, yeah right.

About shyness, may I provide a multi-cultural view? I have only been in this country six years and I still notice that the British particularly value what they call “social skills” in quite small children, one of those cultural rules along with “the playing fields of Eton” (your son’s a failure if he doesn’t love ball games) and “cleanliness is next to Godliness” (if you don’t wash your hair now you must be an axe murderer). Now I grew up in the Middle East, bounced through the refugee process around countries like Sweden and Canada, married my equally shy husband here and immediately spent the next two decades in far East Asia. In none of these countries would a child even be in school yet before 6!

This isn’t to deny your perception that your DD is very shy, sounds like she is. But where I’ve been most of my life the advice would be: don’t force her. If you have a delicate flower, you keep her in the greenhouse a little longer and plant her out later in the spring. If your ankle is sprained, running a marathon will make it worse, not better. Acknowledging she’s shy will help her to learn strategies. For instance, when they meet new people I still prompt mine (some of them teenagers), “Shake hands and say hello to Mrs X, and then you may go play.” This gives them something specific to do, cues Mrs X that the kids are shy, and demonstrates that even so I’m still a Good Mother who Values Manners. At the nativity play, teachers will quickly learn to cast her as a wordless lamb instead of the Virgin Mary, and you can tell her to look for you in the audience (sit front and central and give her a good wave, it’s hard to see from the stage) and just keep her eyes on you the whole way through, so at least her head will be up. As for birthday parties, some will remind you they’re not at all necessary, but she might well want one even if they make her shy. In our family it’s always been considered normal that at the moment the cake comes out, the birthday child will be having extra birthday cuddles in mum’s lap, pretty much cheek-to-cheek, and we will cut the cake hand-on-hand which gives us something to look at instead of all the singers.

You do have to be your child’s advocate. Ask the teacher, or DD, if there’s one perhaps also rather quiet child she sometimes chats to, and invite that child for a short playdate, perhaps with mother. And put out play-dough or paints or a paddle pool so they can play side-by-side instead of directly interacting. When you drop DD at school try to look round and say, “There’s Sarah, she’s having trouble with her coat, let’s go help her with the zip.” As classes are reshuffled from year-to-year ask the head or the teacher to try and keep DD with at least one or two friendly kids; I still do this for DS (9).

When we first moved here 6 years ago my older son’s new teacher got cross because he didn’t look her in the eye and shake her hand at the door the first day: “You need to teach him some manners!” I was too shy myself to answer, but when I got home in tears, DH reminded me: “In the country we just came from, it would be so arrogant for a small child to stare in an adult’s eyes and touch them without permission!” I was shy, still feel it often, but you notice no one can shut me up!

GinniferAndTonic Wed 03-Jul-13 09:43:46

OP, my DD is 5 and has selective mutism. Now, this is not the same thing as being shy, but some of the same techniques might be of help. And anyway I second the idea of looking into selective mutism (the SMIRA website linked to by a poster above is excellent) just to see if it fits your situation. The Selective Mutism Resource Manual by Maggie Johnson and Alison Wintgens has been a big help.

The key thing to understand is that your child's perception of some ordinary situations differs from yours, in that to her they seem huge and insurmountable. You must think of ways to break things into very small steps, and give lots of help and encouragement so your DD is able to start taking these steps. When she gets a sense that she is moving forward, she will become more and more keen to take more steps. Be creative and try to give her social situations that favor quieter children. For example, my DD does ballet - it's a group activity but one where she gets positive feedback for being quiet and attentive. This has boosted her self-confidence a lot, and I'm convinced it has helped her make progress in other areas.

21stCenturyDropout Wed 03-Jul-13 09:44:34

Exotic fruits you seem to assume that by saying that I am embarrassed and ashamed on this post, that is the way I behave towards my Dd.

Did you really read that from my post? All I am trying to do is help my daughter. I don't need to feel ashamed for the way I feel.
I am not a complete monster. There is no way I let her know how I am feeling inside about this. When we are out I don't make a big thing of her shyness, I just give her a cuddle and reassure her.
On the subject of Selective Mutism, I have briefly looked into this but it may be a bit early to tell as she is only 5.
I am ok with her being shy. What I am not ok with, is her missing out on experiences because her shyness and lack of self confidence holds her back.
Thanks to everyone else for the kind and helpful comments.

Loulybelle Wed 03-Jul-13 09:46:31

21st you could be describing my daughter, shes the same age and has been diagnosed with selective mutism, that pattern fits my DD to tee, but she is starting to open up and trust more now.

ARealDame Wed 03-Jul-13 09:47:40

I knew a boy like that at school. He would not speak to anyone - teachers or pupils, except my son for some reason. At home he was apparently chatty.

I don't know all the ins and outs of it, but he did grow out of it, and according to my son, doesn't stop talking now ...

But I agree, school support might be helpful. I am sure they see this kind of thing a lot.

(I also read Quiet - the Power of Introverts In A World That Won't Stop Talking. Fantastic, recommended).

LilacPeony Wed 03-Jul-13 09:48:09

I felt so embarrassed and ashamed that my child is so lacking in confidence. Maybe the OP wasn't saying she was ashamed of her child, maybe she meant that she was upset with herself for not managing to bring her up to be confident? Us parents have a habit of blaming ourselves for how our kids turn out and wondering what we could have done differently, even though there was probably nothing we could have done differently and it is just how they are!

LilacPeony Wed 03-Jul-13 09:48:30

Cross posted!

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Wed 03-Jul-13 09:56:28

Very sad, OP.
i would throw her in the deep end, I think. Sign her up to lots of after school activities, invite lots of friends round, socialise with others on the weekend, send her up to the counter to buy sweets and cake in cafes whilst you watch. Kill or cure. Good luck!

21stCenturyDropout Wed 03-Jul-13 09:57:14

CHJR I just read your post again and it must say it has really stuck a chord with me. Particularly the line about having a Delicate Flower! Thanks for that perspective. I will try to remember that at tricky moments!

Sometimes it feels as though to be valued in this world you have to shout the loudest and be larger than life. Whether or not my Dd just happens to be in a class where most of the kids are outgoing I am not sure. But like it or not, it is upsetting when it feels like your child is the only one finding it hard. Its nice to know that she is not alone.

takeaway2 Wed 03-Jul-13 10:14:49

A v quick post just to say I'm really interested in this SM as I have a dd and it all sounds v similar. I am abroad for work so will post when I'm back in the UK.

Goldmandra Wed 03-Jul-13 10:22:46

Sign her up to lots of after school activities, invite lots of friends round, socialise with others on the weekend, send her up to the counter to buy sweets and cake in cafes whilst you watch. Kill or cure.


Why on earth would you put the child through this sort of hellish experience?

She already goes to school. What would enforced extension of the school day doing things she hasn't chosen to do add?

How would forcing her into situations where she feels under enormous pressure make her less anxious about speaking? How would she feel standing in front of a stranger in a cafe with everyone looking at her expectantly but being unable to speak? That would destroy her.

The problem with throwing children in at the deep end is that they either drown or end up even more terrified of the water.

I'm all for challenging children in ways they can rise to but they should never be set up to fail like this.

youmeatsix Wed 03-Jul-13 10:27:02

you pretty much described my middle daughter OP, oldest and youngest were much more confident, and she wouldnt even speak to my mum if we met her outside until she was about 4 years old. by the time she went to school i was worried, she seemed much quieter than her peers. P1 she did well, but didnt seem to have made many friends. As time went on, she came out her shell, bit by bit. Looking back there were no definitive moments, by the time high school came she was still that bit quieter than the others but perfectly happy and capable. Through high school she "levelled" out and is now a happy confident young lady. dont make an issue out of it, its rare extreme shyness carries onto be problematic in adulthood

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Wed 03-Jul-13 10:31:13

Yes, as I said. Kill or cure. Of it fails them accept you have a selective mute on your hands and seek appropriate help.

mrsjay Wed 03-Jul-13 10:32:45

you are ashamed of your little girl shyness that is sad, your child is shy thats all you need to with it and let her be who she is, I have a very shy child yes it can be awkward at times but they manage to make friends and cope at school they are just quiet about it, confidence is something that happens your little girl is introverted this is her personality she will be fine, dd is now a grown up while still introverted she copes fine works goes to college and manages life just in a bit of a quieter way.

Goldmandra Wed 03-Jul-13 11:28:47

Of it fails them accept you have a selective mute on your hands and seek appropriate help.

There are much safer and more appropriate ways to work out if a child should be diagnosed with selective mutism.

Fortunately we've moved on from trial by ordeal.

I'm sure the OP is offering her DD lots of appropriate opportunities to develop her confidence and communication skills.

LilacPeony Wed 03-Jul-13 11:33:43

I think the usual advice would be to gradually acclimatise children to things they are scared of, going at their own pace and at a level they are comfortable with. It isn't to terrify them by throwing them in at the deep end.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Wed 03-Jul-13 11:34:13

Some people prefer to try everything before giving up and accepting a problem. Perhaps that's not you, Gold.....

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Wed 03-Jul-13 11:36:37

If op's dd does not enjoy Brownies, swimming, football, trips to parks with others and buying sweets on her own then all best attempts to socialise have not come off. I would then look at going to GP for help. We are all different.

SoniaGluck Wed 03-Jul-13 11:46:09

Some people prefer to try everything before giving up and accepting a problem. Perhaps that's not you, Gold.....

I agree with Gold. I was a very shy child and my mother tried the kill or cure approach that you advocate. It was excruciating and it made me feel worse, I just got tongue tied and felt useless. I am still socially awkward and inept at times.

DD1 was also very shy as a small child - the others were not and would talk to anyone. She would hide upstairs if we had visitors, for example. Having been forced into doing stuff that made me uncomfortable, I didn't force her into things but let her be.

She is now 23, has many friends, enjoys going out socialising, is very confident and ambitious in her career. Of course, she might have developed exactly the same way if I had pushed her to be more outgoing but I'm not convinced of that.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 12:26:43

I really don't know why my advice wasn't helpful! I was the shy 5yr old and I know what helped me and it certainly wasn't a mother trying to engineer situations for me or thinking I was missing out or starting to worry about selective mutism. My children were shy. There is nothing wrong with it. They are adults now and socialise, are confident and live quite happily away from home. I - and they- achieved it by a laid back approach and letting them take their own time.
Anything else is excruitiating for the shy child.
As a teacher I have come across literally 100s of shy children and 2selective mutes, some teachers never come across a selective mute- it is rare.
I agree with Sonia. Plants don't thrive if you keep lifting them up to look at the roots! Give her space and time.

mrsjay Wed 03-Jul-13 12:37:13

I agree with exotic trying to find something wrong with a shy or introverted person isn't helpful imo and it just labels them further , my own dd never used to be able to ask for sweets hated handing over money in shops would never ever want to be in front at school play crickey it took her to her last year in high school to play in the school band and she was bricking it

, now she is a grown up she works in a shop she has to speak to customers has friends goes out puts herself into situations that she is maybe not that comfy with, and is quite confident or at least manages, she will be working in creative industries (hopefully if she gets a job) so she is going to have to cope, I dont think forcing children helps but gently encouraging and seeing what they can cope with when they are little does pay off when they are older

SoniaGluck Wed 03-Jul-13 12:48:17

I think you were spot on exotic. My mother's pushing certainly made my shyness a problem for me when I might easily just have grown out of it given patience and time.

Her problem was that she saw having a shy child as her failure and felt that it reflected badly on her child rearing skills.

I tried never to label DD1 as shy and if other people said it I would disagree with them. I believe she was just taking her time to weigh situations up and allowing her to do that with no pressure meant that built up enough confidence to make her own judgements.

She is certainly confident enough these days. smile

Loa Wed 03-Jul-13 12:50:50

My DC are shy - though I prefer to call it slow to warm up and tell people that and that it is fine for them to be that way. I was less strict about that with second DC and he started referring to himself as shy - which really didn't help.

I spent years at toddler groups with them not venturing far - and that was o.k as I played with them nearby and they saw me interact with others and they all eventually after months went of independently.

Eldest has done better at school - class of 30 - than at her small nursery which always made a big deal of her not wanting to be center of attention.

She is now 7 and has been performing on stage in an outside school activity this week at her request - she hated and looked very unhappy in her reception nativity play.

It taken my DS a lot longer to be more relaxed - end of year 1 he is shy but its not anywhere near as bad and only in new situations when he is by himself with no one he knows - which is extremely rare - and he is not an introvert.

I do think you are confusing - low self -confidence, being introverted and lacking confidence.

Perhaps smaller birthday parties, or days out instead, or more low key one where is is only center of attention for candle blowing - I found soft play parties are like that - DC off playing then sit down to food but attention only on birthday DC for cake blowing really.

You probably also need to work on worrying about what others think of you and your DC behavior. At 5 I sure she really isn't missing out on much - and with time and patience she'll be able to manage her reticence in social situation better.

Loa Wed 03-Jul-13 12:55:30

I do think you are confusing - low self -confidence, being introverted and shyness


I did prof read as well.

HandMini Wed 03-Jul-13 13:06:48

My DD is shy. And it is awkward at parties and groups when she runs away from other children and buries her head in my legs.

I don't think you're being awful to admit to feeling embarrassed or ashamed by it. I sometimes do. I feel embarrassed because it sometimes comes across as rude (turning her back on a mum offering birthday cake) and I feel ashamed (of myself not her) because I think other mums must think her shyness stems from me mollycoddling her or I'm really precious. I don't think I am. Maybe that's all just my anxiety.

Anyway, what I try to do is:

- not make a big deal of it
- stay in one place at groups and parties in the hope that she'll go off and play alone a bit but she always knows where I am
- I tell her "it's ok to feel shy, but you have to be polite" and as other posters have done, give her clear instructions like "take the plate, say thank you and sit here next to X"

CHJR - what a lovely post and a great viewpoint.

I have a very introverted DD ( now nearly 18). Reading this book really helped me understand where she is coming from:
That said, she is now on her own on a month volunteer project several thousand miles away, living with and dealing with strangers every day. It hasn't held her back from anything.
Her school reports were always excellent academically but always marred by comments like "She needs to ask more questions/speak more". She used to say "why- I don't need to ask a question?".
The book above shows how we have come to the situation where being sociable/chatty etc is so valued and how this is flawed.
Its also a very readable book.

ilikemysleep Wed 03-Jul-13 13:10:55

Look, I am sure you don't mean it that way, but I find your posts, exotic and mrsjay, really offensive. The implication is that I and other parents who have sought help for our SM children have uselessly labelled them or branded them disabled. No-one here has said to the OP that her child is definitely selectively mute, it has merely been suggested as a possibility which the OP might consider. The OP has herself come back and said that she has indeed considered it and thinks her DD is too young to make a judgement. That is a perfectly sensible response. She is aware of the possibility and will consider it. Why keep coming back to it and justifying why the OP should rule that possibility out, and in fact that people shouldn't seek further assessment for their children if they are worried, on the basis that you or your children struggled as children and are fine now? FYI there are plenty of adults on the SM boards who have never managed to overcome their mutism and whose lives are blighted. There are also those who have managed to overcome it with or without help, but many talk about years of feeling misunderstood.

My son was in an incident at playtime when he was 10, in year 5, pre-diagnosis. The teacher questioned him. The TA came in to 'help' because he couldn't talk to the teacher. Then they called in his best friend to talk to him, he was still so anxious that he could not speak. After 45 minutes of questioning during which time he sobbed constantly but could not explain what had happened (he had bitten a younger child, so a serious incident, and they needed to have his side of the story) someone gave him a pencil and paper. Do you know what he eventually wrote through his tears? 'No-one understands me'. That scenario would not happen now, because finally people DO understand him. I know that SM is not the same as shyness, I don't know what OP is dealing with but as her dd is only 5 and lots of 5 year olds are shy - but OP is 'worried' - that suggests more to me than needing 20 mins to warm up socially in a new situation. You're right, there's nothing wrong with being shy, and there's lots of good advice on the thread, some of which is to be aware that it might turn out to be more than 'just shyness'. And if it doesn't, that is great. But don't tell me that an 11 year old who is able to answer direct questions about work but can't say hello to someone, or order in a cafe, or visit their new secondary school without clinging on to their mum like a 3 year old, shaking and unable to speak at all, is 'just shy' and I should have left him to it. Because that suggestion upsets me.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 13:18:33

I agree with MrsJay and Sonia- it is a subject that I feel strongly about and am a bit upset to be told that my advice was unhelpful because it obviously rubs a nerve with OP.
The worst thing ever for me were adults engineering situations to 'help'me. The best were adults who took time to draw me out without making it obvious that was what they were doing or expecting anything from it. It was also very difficult to live with the label 'shy'.
My school reports all had things like 'exotic would get more from her lessons if she took a more active part' - as if I was to think 'yay why ever didn't I think of that' and start doing it! When my DSs were in secondary school I spent my time explaining on parent's evenings that it wasn't easy and when they gained the confidence they would speak more. I was thrilled when I got a Geography teacher who understood- she had been that child.
I managed to go away from home, I became a teacher- someone who is always talking! My children went away from home and are perfectly well balanced, sociable adults. None of us are comfortable on a stage though- we avoid stages although it hasn't always been possible in my case.
Time- space- a laid back approach- treat it as normal.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 13:20:37

Sorry- ilikemysleep-but you are reading your experience into OP who merely has a shy child. Selective mutes don't even reply to the school register.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 13:22:02

If I thought it was more than shyness I would give different advice.

Arabesque Wed 03-Jul-13 13:27:17

Just leave her alone. Her teachers obviously don't think there's a problem. Agitating and getting upset over it is just going to make her go in on herself even more. Lots of 5 year olds are shy and grow out of it. The worst thing you could possibly do is make an issue out of it. You'll only make her feel like she's strange or odd and then she'll become even more self concious.

ilikemysleep Wed 03-Jul-13 13:35:48

Yes, but Exotic fruits, unless you know the OP, how do you know that her DD is just shy? I was told that for years, I believed that for years. I was a shy child. My son was a very very shy child whose behaviour we could excuse as shyness for years until it became clear that he actually has severe social anxiety. I cannot see how you can be so positive from a brief description in the original post. Unless you are wrongly thinking that selectively mute children never speak at all to anyone in school. Selectively mute children DO answer the register, soemtimes, it depends on the scope of the mutism. My son answers the register, and speaks to his friends, and answers the teacher if she asks what is 5 times 6 or some other question where he knows the answer. Because it is SELECTIVE mutism. That means it happens some ofthe time. the aspect of communication that makes him anxious is giving open answers, being asked something by a teacher that is not related to the work, or speaking to adults in authority. It's like being scared of spiders. You are only scared if you see a spider. You wouldn't necessarily be scared of a ladybird. My son is selectively mute, in specific communication situations, because it is those aspects of communication that make him anxious. I can see now why you were so positive as your understanding of selective mutism is wrong.

The fact is, neither of us knows, and another post has made a generalisation about people trying to find 'something wrong' with shy children. Sometimes, there IS something wrong.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shewhowines Wed 03-Jul-13 13:50:51

Thanks ilike for clarifying that it is not all the time. I really think that is a common misconception.

I taught a SM once. She had just come up from the infants (where she really did speak to no one) to my class in a different junior school(age 8). It was probably that it was a new school and a new situation but she really improved over the year. The parents cried at one point, in their gratitude after she said a few words in assembly. I really don't think it was anything I did. I just treated her normally and didn't put pressure on to her. Sometimes I whispered in her ear, asking her if she wanted to contribute but other than that I did nothing extra. The point I am trying to make, is to give you hope that these things may not be permanent and sometimes things change for the better for no apparent reason. By the time she left juniors, nobody would ever have realised there was ever a problem.

Goldmandra Wed 03-Jul-13 13:58:53

Some people prefer to try everything before giving up and accepting a problem. Perhaps that's not you, Gold.....

No. I prefer to label them with every disorder going, wrap them in cotton wool and make sure they never have an opportunity to spread their wings and achieve their full potential hmm

There is a significant and crucially important difference between trying different supportive strategies to enable a child to succeed and setting them up to fail spectacularly and publicly in order to prove that they have a real difficulty.

kerala Wed 03-Jul-13 13:59:56

My sister was like this parents were very concerned. Now has top job in the arts manages team of 30 and hosts fundraising events for royalty politicians and the super rich who she schmoozes. It was a phase but she was chronically shy until she started secondary at 11 and "didn't want to be like that anymore"

hexagonal Wed 03-Jul-13 17:03:37

I'm quite surprised at the amount of people just in this thread that have had SM or had children with it. When I had it I would have loved to know that there was a name for it and there were other people with it. I genuinely believed I was the only one in the world.

FreudiansSlipper Wed 03-Jul-13 17:16:05

ds was like this and still is a little shy at times

it was very difficult to watch as he would struggle in groups of children and with adults too. he attended some dance/drama classes and that really really helped the staff were great. i do not think he is heading for the stage but a few months of going and he really came out of himself

mrsjay Wed 03-Jul-13 17:19:01

just want to say I apologise I did not mean the posters children with selective mutism all i meant was you cant say every shy child is SM it is a very rare condition

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 19:00:32

I don't want to keep banging on but the teacher has said that she is doing fine, and you don't say that if there is the merest hint of selective mutism.
I would bet that SM children don't answer the register to a supply teacher- regardless of whether they manage with the normal routine. If it is more than a shy child then other children will explain her to strangers like supply teachers. They do not explain shy children.(based on supply teaching 100s of children)
I have had many parents very grateful for my treatment of shy children- I am able to be helpful because I was the shy child.
While I can see that it must be a relief to have a diagnosis if you have more than shyness, I can't think of anything worse than my mother wanting to get me tested or discussed in any way or feeling that she needed to send me to activies or wanted to see me being confident centre stage.
Just be normal, be outgoing yourself, don't force her into things but at the same time don't collude in avoiding things. Above all avoid the label 'shy'.
I also think that you have to be realistic, and if you found it difficult to be centre of attention on a stage at 5yrs or found it difficult to converse with strangers then it is quite likely your child will find it difficult at 5yrs - and there is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed. It doesn't automatically follow- shy people can produce confident extroverts who love centre stage. Just support the child you have - rather than the one you want.

ilikemysleep Wed 03-Jul-13 19:59:14

Ironically, the advice you are giving, ie to remove pressure and reduce anxiety, is exactly the same as sm advice. The only add on is a bit of therapeutic work around desensitisation or 'sliding in'. SM advice would never be to put a big spotlight on the child or force them to do things that make them uncomfortable. You advice is spot on, but I am still blown away by how authoritatively you talk about SM and how teachers would never overlook it when clearly you had a misunderstanding yourself about what might constitute SM. And when many, many kids where the SM is not fully pervasive (ie they are not completely silent all the time in school) do not have that experience. Children being overlooked and misinterpreted is not only something that happens in sm, it is the norm, and it saddens me that you resolutely refuse to accept that when several posters have said that they themselves as children in retrospect had sm and it was never recognised, and when my son was 'fine' according to teachers for 4 years. Maybe you are a remarkable teacher who has never assumed a child is rude or defiant when they don't talk in cettain circumstances, because of your own childhood experiences. But having that judgement made of them is the norm for most sm kids.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 03-Jul-13 20:06:50

Hello, hope you don't mind but I have only read the OP. I do have a little advice and I would say that you stop worrying completely, if she wants to huddle to you and cuddle in allow it, just try to encourage the minimum of politeness (just say hello/thank you then you can sit on my knee all night if you like etc etc) Don't force anything. It might take two weeks or three months or six months but it doesn't matter, in the end she will start to explore things a little. Never be embarrassed by her wanting to cling to you rather than mingle. Never feel ashamed in front of other mothers. Don't care about what they think, the only important thing is helping your child feel secure. Make her feel totally secure with you, no forced playdates, no forced sports events, if she doesn't want to be in the school play just allow it. I know it sounds indulgent but I cannot recommend it strongly enough. Of course not having read the thread this would be my advice for a very shy child and if you have been talking about different extra problems I have no experience of those.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 03-Jul-13 20:08:00

Also, I'm sorry if people already said this.

Owzat Wed 03-Jul-13 20:21:03

My daughter is very much like yours, OP, but a bit younger (3).

She starts nursery in September, and I'm worried for her as I know she will be wellout of her comfort zonee. She starting with 10 hours (2 mornings) a week, and we'll take it from there. She is my eldest child, and I've always noted how introverted she is when compared with her peers. I've taken her to various classes and toddler groups, visited people etc, and she goes to a childminder 1 day a week. I always gently encourage her to interact but she's really not keen. Like others, Apsergers has crossed my mind as she is intelligent, bookish, and logical - along with the 'shyness'. Whatever she is, she has some great qualities, and I'm sure she'll grow to a place where she's able to get along just fine. I'm proud of her - she's calm and sensitive, can focus on things, has a fantastic memory, and enjoys friendships with a couple of people she sees regularly. She doesn't get into conflicts and doesn't tantrum.

BUT, it's taken me a while to truely accept her as she is. I was embarassed by the extreme shyness and forever making excuses. I've had a lot of people giving me 'advice' and disapproval. To be fair, I've only recently fully accepted my own introvert tendencies. Not everyone needs to be in the limelight, and nor should they. Whilst I realise school is likely to be an uncomfortable world for my DD, I now feel able to support her through it, and I believe 'gently, gently' is the way to go.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 03-Jul-13 20:24:22

Yes that's it owzat, accepting as she is!

Owzat Wed 03-Jul-13 20:53:09

crumbled That's exactly the approach I'm taking now. I've already seen small improvements, compared with me mithering her constantly to talk!


briany Wed 03-Jul-13 21:25:36

Mine's a bit like this too, now 7. It has got better over the years. I totally understand you being embarrassed, because people who don't understand think they're being rude or standoffish. The number of times people have reacted as though their dc is being snubbed. When the reality is mine is like this with everyone. It takes her ages to warm up in social situations. She often doesn't respond to people she knows well who say hello in the street. Every morning the TA says good morning as she walks in, but she never replies. It's mortifying.

She's now of an age where I can try to explain to her - how do you think they felt that they came up and said hello and you didn't reply? And that actually it's far easier to just very quickly say hello rather than hide.

Going forward - mine is fine with one or two close friends. She can't really cope with more than that. So we have small parties that she can cope with, usually about people. If she's trying something new, I try to get a friend to go with her. She quite enjoys trying new things if it's a small group - so I try to find things like that.

As for school plays and reading out loud - mine still doesn't do that. But I just think there's no rush. I was the same at her age and I was forced to take main parts in plays which caused me huge amounts of stress. I'm glad they don't seem to be doing that to her.

I am now an adult and have done presentations and things for uni and work. I still have social problems - I don't do well in groups. But mostly I'm fine. She's just inherited some social anxiety I think. I think my aim is to try and manage it.

i don't know what the answer is. just to accept her as she is and try and increase her confidence slowly. it's funny but as time goes on they all shine in different ways. whereas some of her friends are the all singing and dancing types good at so many things and so confident, she has had prizes for artwork, maths, being kind. have faith in her abilities in other ways.

21stCenturyDropout Wed 03-Jul-13 22:18:42

Hand mini, that's exactly how I feel. I am always completely honest on here because what is the point in hiding how you feel. Just reading some of the comments (and disagreements) on here highlights what an emotive subject it is.
I think everyone feels negative emotions concerning their children at some point and I would question anyone who says otherwise. I take great care to show empathy towards my child. After all, I have been there and I do understand. But it is still frustrating.
Exoticfruits please don't think your comments were not helpful, I have read through again and I do agree with you that it is not helpful to push a shy child into things when they are not ready. And no, you wouldn't catch me on stage if my life depended on it! grin I think my wording in my OP was a little off. I feel ashamed and embarrassed on my own behalf as I worry that it is my fault that she is having problems.
I am sure everyone is right, and she will thrive despite her shyness. But I will definitely be getting her assessed if I feel she might have SM.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 22:42:52

It isn't your fault she is having problems- are you even sure that she finds it a problem? I can't say that I did particularly - it was quite possible to stay in the background- it is more of a problem because other people see it as a problem if you can follow that rather convoluted thinking! Personally I was very happy curled up with a book or with a few friends or just people watching and had no desire to be madly social or in the limelight. Even now I need time on my own in absolute silence, and while I go to parties and interact without problems I can't say that I enjoy them unless I really know the people well.
I understand that you feel it held you back and you want her to do the things that you missed out on , which is where I think we got the misunderstanding of 'ashamed' and 'embarrassed'.
I think you have to stop projecting- she is not you. Owzat has the answer, accept her for what she is - celebrate what she can do and her good qualities- and don't dwell on what she can't do. She may well do them next month, next year or in 10 yrs time, As said gently, gently and you don't have to make excuses or blame yourself. (Mothers are very good at guilt!)

EugenesAxe Wed 03-Jul-13 22:54:25

I used to love the book 'Leo The Late Bloomer' - and while she is blooming in many ways, I'd venture to say she's just taking her time on this one. Leo's mum says 'A watched bloomer doesn't bloom.'

My DN has been a bit like this but has really taken a step forward in terms of confidence in the year of age 7-8.

Is it I think the baby whisperer books that say love the child you have and not the child you want? I think everyone's right... relax and things will probably improve on their own.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Jul-13 22:55:24

Since your posts I have been reading up on SM, iliketosleep, and all sites say it is rare. They also advocate the very things I am saying e.g. Remove pressure.
I still can't see anything in OP to indicate it and in OP's case I wouldn't investigate it as yet because it is doing the very thing that I would have hated as a child- drawing attention to me and calling me a problem when I was merely shy. Most of the population are shy- very few people could stand up and make a speech in front of a few hundred people without qualms- even those who do it for a living get stage fright! Some people are better at hiding it than others.

Georgetta Thu 04-Jul-13 01:35:27

Completely agree here with Ilikemysleep.While it may be simple shyness it also might not be.What you describe OP is exactly like my own dd.I wont trawl through her entire history but she remained like this to present day-she is now 16 and was diagnosed last year with Aspergers and social anxiety.I really wish I had flagged her issues much earlier. However,I simply always assumed she was just extremely shy and would grow out of it confused.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 07:56:06

I would suggest that OP reads up on these things before she goes down the route of investigating them. SM is very rare, DCs on AS spectrum are more common- but simple shyness is very common. Lots of children are shy - if you start a thread on here asking posters if they are shy it will be full in no time- and then you have to bear in mind that many shy people won't admit to it.
Most parents would like a socially confident child who can charm adults, be invited to all parties, can take the lead in school plays etc. In reality very few get it. You can get the opposite problem where the DC is overconfident, has no social boundaries, is overbearing and bossy.
Life is a journey- you don't arrive at 5yrs being mature and and confident- it takes a life time for some and some never get there! You can still enjoy the journey.
A lot of people never get over being shy, they just learn to deal with it or hide it. Generally they just gain in confidence and find that they can do easily things that they used to find difficult.

ilikemysleep Thu 04-Jul-13 07:59:30

Exoticfruits. Like many sens, selective mutism is a spectrum disorder. Do you remember when autism was extremely rare? Websites then said that it was 1 in 1000. Now we are at 1in 88 on tha autism spectrum, because a wider range of manifestations is recognised. All of whose lives are impacted in some way by their autism. I suspect that SM is similar and in its fullest range of manifestations nowhere near as rare as you think. Look at how many people on this thread have recognised it in their or their children's pasts. Thank you for doing some research though. Do you read any of my posts? I have said that your advice is the same as what would be advised for SM. I have also respected the op's pov that she thinks she will wait and see as she thinks her dd might be a bit young. At no point have I pushed herto get her dd assessed, only to be aware that, it might be, something to consider at some point despite you saying early on and with authority that this was definitely NOT SM when actually you do not have the expertise to rule that out, then repeating with confidence that you knew the child was 'merely shy' on the grounds that SM children don't answer the register. When actually, some do. All through the thread you have told other posters they are projecting their own experiences, yet you seem unable to recognise that you are projecting your own, advising op not to seek further assessment because YOU would have hated it. All I am trying to do is counterbalance your strong message that this child is merely shy and will be fine (which might well be the case) with my own, which is that sometimes children are nit merely shy so bear that in mind and see how your daughter gies on, op, don't take exotic fruits overconfident assertion that she knows your daughter does not have selective mutism as gospel truth.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 08:09:03

I haven't said that she doesn't have it! I have read up on it and every single website about it said that it was rare.
On a very simple level other children never explain shy children to a supply teacher - even if they are very shy- they always explain an abnormally shy child. There is nothing in OP to suggest that other children would feel the need to explain her DC.
My answer is to be laid back and relaxed and treat it as normal. Immediately you start investigating reasons you are giving the message that it is a problem and you are anxious.
All I am saying is don't do this unless you have a real worry that there is an underlying cause. Children pick up on what you don't say - they are very astute.

merlincat Thu 04-Jul-13 08:10:17

ilikemysleep, I agree about the prevalence of SM, both of my Dds had it (now recovered) and there were children at both of their schools who had it too, to varying degrees.

biryani Thu 04-Jul-13 08:11:55

I don't understand why it's so important to be outgoing. I was desperately shy as a child and hated being made to mingle. I still find socialising difficult even now.

There's a really good book around at the moment called Quiet which celebrates quiet, introverted types. Really good read.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 08:17:40

Neither do I biryani- which is why I keep banging on. I don't see it as a disability - and I hate this idea that you have to assume there is something wrong. Adults just have to work a little harder getting to know the child. I was fed up with the doctor at my DSs 3yr check- he had just been utterly charmed by a very chatty, friendly girl. He would have found my DS equally charming given time and patience. Telling how lovely the last child was didn't help! He didn't get a word out of my DS.
I can't see why being the extrovert is so superior.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 08:27:14

I would say that my brother is on the mild end of the AS spectrum - had it being know about when he was 5yrs. I can't see how the knowledge helps , then or now, he has an active life and is married with 3children. If it was severe then it would have helped to be diagnosed.

2rebecca Thu 04-Jul-13 08:33:25

I don't think it's important to be outgoing, but I do think being confident helps all aspects of life. Confidence isn't linked to extroversion, there are some insecure people who never shut up. You can be quietly confident.
A child that won't look at people or say hello lacks confidence. Teaching your child they are as good as other people and that other people aren't scary and building their confidence can only help them.
I agree that often their self confidence just grows with time and there is no need to push them into stressful situations all the time. I wouldn't let them hide from social situations either though, although i do think performing on a stage should be as optional for young children as it is for adults.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 09:06:58

Building confidence is a long slow progress- it is not a short term thing. Treating it as a problem isn't going to help.
Normality is what you want- don't push them into stressful situations but don't let them hide from them either.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 09:08:27

And if they do have success just treat it as normal- making a big thing of it pushed me right back in my shell! Avoid discussing them when they can hear.

mrsjay Thu 04-Jul-13 09:14:53

I can't see why being the extrovert is so superior.

I can't either sorry to quote exotic but i couldnt find the words but being social and loud and all the rest of it is not the only way to be, being introverted is just a personality trait and there is nothing wrong with it,

Goldmandra Thu 04-Jul-13 09:43:49

I'm a bit worried about the message which is coming across about assessment and treatment of Selective Mutism.

There is no reason why a child should feel put under the spotlight or under more pressure simply because they are being assessed.

Professionals can observe children in the classroom without them being aware that they are the focus of the exercise and strategies to support their communication can be used by familiar staff during everyday activities and while working as a whole class or in small groups. The strategies are more about how other people respond to the child than getting the child to change what they are doing.

I don't want parents whose children may have SM to feel that by asking for assessment or support for their child they will be automatically putting their child in a more stressful situation or making the problem worse for them.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 09:52:22

"Do you remember when autism was extremely rare? Websites then said that it was 1 in 1000"

Can I just say, it used to be one in 10,000 to one in 5,000.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 12:10:02

I had enough problems talking to teachers about my children and saying that given time and experience they would gain confidence and it wasn't something you can force. I am very thankful that I didn't have them suggesting they were assessed or that people needed strategies to deal with them. They are and were perfectly normal- it wasn't a disability. At 5yrs old they are not long from babyhood and having to cope with a long day, unfamiliar people and different routines- who can blame them for not immediately taking to it and be able to chat all, read in front of others, run with an audience?
Any hint of people discussing me as a problem or that they had 'strategies' to deal with me would have magnified the problem. I remember once I was talking freely with a group and my friend butted in, the teacher immediately asked the friend to let me finish( this wasn't in class it was just informal) I at once realised that she was treating me differently and encouraging me and that was it- dried up completely. Had she let the friend continue as normal conversation I would have slotted back in.
I can't say we have any extroverts in our extended family- it therefore is hardly surprising that my DCs don't want to be centre stage.
I think it was Andy Warhol who said 'everyone wants their 5mins of fame' and I want to shout 'NO THEY DON'T. Some want to blend in the background- and why not?

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 12:42:56

Exotic, I totally agree with your post and everything in it, every word. We should as parents listen to our children and try to understand - if they're shy, they're shy. They're allowed to be shy all their lives. Our job as parents is to help them be confident about themselves, happy about themselves, able to be content. That is rarely achieved by pushing them and forcing them to be something they are not, just because we're embarrassed in front of other mums. Never be ashamed of a shy child. They are shy, and they are allowed to be.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 12:43:45

And by confident I don't mean socially confident there. I mean confident and happy in themselves, in the decisions and choices they make.

ilikemysleep Thu 04-Jul-13 13:04:15

Other than one post by one poster early on, who is suggesting pushing any child whether they are shy or SM? The 'strategies' used are low key and designed to reduce anxiety and in any case (excuse the capitalisation here but I feel like some people are just not getting it) YOU WOULDN'T USE THEM IN AN ORDINARY SHY CHILD, ONLY ONE WHERE THE SHYNESS HAS BECOME SEVERE SOCIAL ANXIETY AND THE CHILD IS SO MASSIVELY ANXIOUS IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS THAT THEY ARE RENDERED LITERALLY SPEECHLESS. Let me put this loud and clear - I am not talking about the OP's child here, I am talking as a general principle - no-one has said that being introverted is bad. However there is a difference between not being a party person or a confident public speaker, but to have close friends and be perfectly functional, and being so massively socially anxious that you cannot go into a shop and ask for a can of coke, or make appointments on the phone, or visit your gp and talk to them about your health, or manage to speak at all in a job interview. We are talking at complete cross purposes here and I don't know how to make you understand that IF your child is selectively mute, then getting some assessment and support is a GOOD IDEA. It will not turn them into an extrovert. But it MIGHT mean that they are able to function as an introvert in society - and as you say, THAT IS FINE.

ilikemysleep Thu 04-Jul-13 13:05:48

Goldmantra - thankyou. That is also my concern. Parents who may well have children who need help are being told that seeking help might be damaging, and that worries me.

formicadinosaur Thu 04-Jul-13 13:08:51

My son was like this in reception and by year 3 he had made massive leaps. Now in year 6 he is VERY confident about speaking out yet is very aware of the rules about speaking in groups.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 13:28:51

Would just to add that SM isn't as rare as you think. According to research SM affects 1 in 1000 referred for mental health assessment. It often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed according to research.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 13:37:26

Maybe undiagnosed because of the stigma some attach to 'labels'. 'Label' isn't a dirty word and often a diagnosis brings much needed help and support and early intervention often brings much better outcomes for the child.

Professionals don't hand out 'labels' like smarties.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 13:45:24

Ilikemysleep- I appreciate your points but SM is rare - shyness is common.
If OP's DD is able to access the curriculum then I can't see a need other than to relax and encourage.
As a supply teacher I have taught many 5yr olds- often going in without ever having met them before. I do what the teacher does. I hear them read. They have all read on a one to one basis and many have been shy. They won't all speak if you are talking to the whole class but they listen to instructions, do the work, will answer my questions if asked on a one to one- maybe just with one word- but they will reply, they will play alongside others.
There were three exceptions - the 2selective mutes and one other who I would say was bordering on it and possibly worth assessing. Maybe there were others that you could say were mild cases, but they were accessing the curriculum and seeing as the answer seems to be not to put on pressure and to build confidence I can't see the point in giving it a name if it is mild and it doesn't need more. The one that I mentioned that was mild was the class rep by year 6 and reporting back to class on meetings- not in the most gregarious way- but he did it.
It is easy for others not to understand. Even in 6th form DS1's form tutor said that she didn't know how he would cope at university- I said that he would be absolutely fine- I knew he would. She mistook it-he had never been shy- he was reserved. He travels the world in his job now and meets all sorts.
DS2 was the shyest- he couldn't do sleepovers- the yr6 residential was a huge source of anxiety but he did it. He is the most outgoing of them all now.
DS3 was very outgoing at 5yrs - he became introverted at around 14 yrs.

They are all different. I think it was 'child of our time' where they did experiments with the babies with strange noises- some were curious and some cried. Some DCs are just naturally confident. I'm sure that we all know the sort of 5yr old who can talk in a dramatic and interesting way in front of 20 or so other children. They didn't learn it- it just comes naturally.

Know your DC is the first step. ilikemysleep obviously knew hers and did the best thing for him- she doesn't know me and it would have been the worst thing for me. None of us know OPs DC so only she can tell. But based on the fact the teacher isn't concerned, shyness is common and she and her DH were shy children I would say that she is merely shy and unless she really can't access the curriculum and play with other children I would just give her space and time.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 13:47:59

Re assess later if necessary.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 14:00:57

Exotic, as I pointed out earlier its not as rare as you think and parents are often told by professionals, ie teachers who are neither trained or experts in SM or any other conditions that their children are 'fine' or 'just shy'.

I totally agree the OP knows her child best and if she has any real concerns she can speak to her GP. However I also totally agree with Ilikemysleep for raising awareness of SM and providing info for the OP to read. I don't see any harm in that whatsoever.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 14:11:06

I would also point out that non communication, reduced social and emotional skills ARE barriers to accessing the curriculum, not just academics

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 14:11:30

Raising awareness is fine, reading about it is fine- there is no harm in it at all. There is real harm in treating a normal human condition as a disability.

Unless the SM is severe enough to stop children accessing the curriculum or having friends and unless it stops adults holding a job and doing normal things like the shopping I can't see why you need the label and why you can't just relax and enjoy life - confidence comes for relaxed parents- not ones full of anxiety who are looking for underlying problems that don't exist.
It would have made my shyness much, much worse as a child and I really don't think I am alone in this.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 14:13:47

I have only known 3children out of thousands whose shyness stopped them accessing the curriculum. More commonly shy children are at the top end and do well- for a start they escape into books- I did.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 14:21:12

I can't see what is so wrong about being shy!

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 14:25:29

Exotic, Im sure if your parents had REAL concerns about you when you were younger, they would have spoken to your GP and got a second opinion as any parent would. So I assume your parents didn't have any real concerns and you were just shy. However we are talking about parents who do have REAL concerns about their children and what they can do about it.

CeliaFate Thu 04-Jul-13 14:26:23

OP, I was in your shoes.
My dd would attend parties and spend all of it crying on my lap. She never wanted to leave and always looked forward to going to the next party.

Every sports day she would spend in tears, trembling, almost being physically sick.

She would cry whenever she was handed to anyone but me and dh as a baby.

As a toddler she would stick to my side like glue and never wanted to go to nursery.

She would cry every morning before school, but would be fine when she was there.

She'd cry if a stranger (child) sat next to her on a bus or a ride at a funfair.

She'd cry if it was too noisy or crowded anywhere.

I bought every book on the subject.

I took her to the gp and asked could she be referred to a psychologist. He said let's wait and see.

In year 5, she wanted to try a drama group. She went and loved it. She felt able to express herself in a safe environment. Since then she has gone from strength to strength and now at nearly 13 is a confident, beautiful, funny, friendly girl who stands on stage and takes part in plays. She is in top sets and loves school. She has a close circle of friends whom she loves to go shopping with. She still hates crowds and noisy venues, so concerts are still not something she enjoys so we don't go.

It sounds as though your daughter is sensitive and a deep thinker. I thoroughly recommend the books "What to do when you worry too much" and "The Highly Sensitive Child".

Sometimes, the world is overwhelming for these children and they need a quiet environment to thrive.

She'll get there.

CeliaFate Thu 04-Jul-13 14:31:21

This is the online quiz for highly sensitive children. There's one for adults too.

MumuDeLulu Thu 04-Jul-13 14:50:56

Celia has recommended two lovely books which are well worth a look.

Those who say extroversion is over-rated have a point, and it's positive that she is happy and chatty at home. What you describe is the far end of the shyness spectrum, and the fact it's making you feel embarrassed and upset suggests you're really worried that it may not settle.

At the same time, it's ok to have a child who is different, and it's ok to plan life around the difficulties. Not entirely, they learn by being challenged, but miss out the certain-disasters which distress them. So 3 friends to cinema & pizza rather than class party. Ask for her to be in charge of costumes for the next school play, rather than on stage. Etc.

Ilike is right in saying selective mutism doesn't have to mean she is silent in school (the clue is in the name: selective mutism) and it can be less problematic when tackled effectively and early. My eldest has adhd and asd so he had the opposite problem (talking nonsense all day long). It took 4 long years to gradually, carefully teach him to stop. I dread to think what would've happened if we'd agreed just to wait and see.

Goldmandra Thu 04-Jul-13 14:54:23

From the OP:

has found it hard to be part of..... anything that involves speaking...

she can't bring herself to speak to adults who try to engage with her

she couldn't even bring herself to sit at the table with the other children.

I don't want her to go through life missing out and feeling socially crippled.

This post isn't about being shy. As the title says, it is about extreme shyness.

The OP is concerned about the impact her DD's difficulties are having on her ability to life an everyday life.

As detailed as the description is, it isn't possible to tell what impact this child's difficulties are really having on her well-being. The child may be happy but she may also be very frustrated.

Lots of really god advice and reassurance has been offered on this thread and I'm sure it has been taken on board.

If the OP begins to feel that her DD has communication difficulties which can't be managed simply by letting her blend into the background and take her time to develop in her own way, she should have confidence that there are professionals out there who can help.

Professionals working with children who have anxiety-based disorders don't tend to go blundering in and make the problem 100 times worse by singling the child out and making them feel inadequate. It would be wrong to allow parents who are considering asking for support to believe that they do, as it may prevent children getting support they really need.

Labelling a child as shy when they have SM is no better than labelling them with a disorder they don't have. There are people better qualified than teachers to make these judgements and they generally don't dole out diagnoses without very good reasons.

yoshipoppet Thu 04-Jul-13 14:57:41

OP, I was the same when I was about your DD's age. I was so bad that I was sent to a psychologist. I don't remember this but my mum says I refused to speak to him so that was a waste of time! But I can remember the horrible embarrassment of being singled out for attention (at any time) and the desire to hide away from it all.
My parents were very sensible and let me develop social skills at my own pace. Once I had worked out that not everyone in the world was out to get me I began to come out of my shell a bit. I hope the same goes for your DD.

Onetwo34 Thu 04-Jul-13 14:57:52

DD is selectively mute. If you are concerned that your DD may be, OP, I must say the assessment process didn't cause her any stress or make her feel the centre of attention or anything like that.

It's been a great help to have the label, for us, because her teachers thought she was terribly behind, where the assessment showed she is actually ahead. Our parents evening / reports certainly didn't say everything was fine though!

I thought I would write because some people seemed to be talking as if it would put the spotlight on your DD to go see someone about it, but it really isn't like that at all. It's all very unobtrusive and undemanding.
She may be just shy of course! Good luck anyway!

Loulybelle Thu 04-Jul-13 15:01:40

My DD is also a selective mute, and since shes been diagnosed, shes beginning to show herself more, she even volunteered to do show and tell, and actually coped with the spotlight on her.

Now the school know her issues, they can work with her and give her the support she needs.

You can pursue this with the help of the school.

Happymum22 Thu 04-Jul-13 15:14:48

I completely can empathise with you OP and hope you take the useful comments from this thread and ignore the unhelpful ones.
One of my DDs was just as you describe. I can empathise with the feelings of being ashamed and I know you feel this probably in a way that you blame yourself, worry she is unhappy and unfulfilled and perhaps even guilt that she inherited it from you.
You need to try and wipe all these feelings or she will pick up on them and it will make her even less confident. You need to be praising and celebrating her and what she does well. As well as simply accepting her attributes and not constantly fighting it. Know before you go into a situation she may feel anxious, don't say to her 'now, I expect you to go in and play with the other girls with no fuss' - this simply sets up her fears and portrays to her your embarrassment and own anxiety. Say 'there are going to be lots of friendly other girls, lots won't know anyone else either. It sounds like there are lots of fun activities going on to so we can see what they are'

Find lots of different opportunities for her to join in groups or activities. Usually ones where 'doing' is the main element rather than any pressure to talk or socialise. For example, a sport rather than rainbows or drama.
Never ever label her shy or let anyone label her shy. If anyone says how shy she is to her face, say 'oh no she certainly isn't shy, she is wonderful at X'.
The biggest barrier I remember I had as a child is everyone's expectations of me. I was so firmly labelled shy that to break that label was my biggest fear. Sometimes even in anew situation the first thing my mum would say would be 'she is so shy don''t expect her to speak to you'. Everyone knew I was shy, expected me not to put my hand up in class or join in with plays/nativity etc. I was scared of how people would react if I was any different from that.

And as others have said, celebrate her shyness and introversion. Try and build her confidence so she isn't unfulfilled or unhappy and so she can deal with these social situations (Even if it is just so she is quiet but confident in them). But at the end of the day, IMO introverts are so wonderful and often achieve so much more. My DD grew up always very popular, she was a great loyal friend, would happily engage in play, could be really fun but would never be bossy or 'in your face'. She is now 23 and very confident and successful, working in the city and very happy. I saw the following quote a few years ago and it always sticks in my mind when I meet one of those 'in your face' people who just don't let anyone get a word in! It also makes me think of my DD as she really knows who she is and is a very secure person.
'Knowing who you are is confidence. Confidence, not cockiness. Cockiness is knowing who you are and pushing it down everyone's throat.'

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 15:22:30

I will leave you all too it, having had more than my fair share of time. But this is a very young child, she is either reception or a very young year 1 child. She has had a huge life change and it takes time, especially if she comes from a quiet household where she doesn't have to shout to get attention. I absolutely adored school when I was 5yrs but I had one friend, spoke to the teacher on a one to one and embarrassed my mother by not saying a simple hello to people. It is very common. Some children can go in and immediately be everything that adults see as 'desirable'- it isn't fixed for life and they quite probably won't do any better.
A mother who drew attention to it, singled me out, wanted strategies in school and gave me a label would have been unbearable. She just left me alone, gave me love and security and support.
If there is a very noisy, sociable group now I will avoid them so I expect that you could call me a selective mute- there is nothing wrong in that- I would much rather go for a long walk with someone that I can talk to easily.
I suspect we all select and have people where the conversation flows without effort and those we can't communicate with- even those who have never known a day's shyness.
I suppose that it depends whether you are a cup half full or cup half empty sort of person, Goldmandra has a completely different interpretation of OP to mine.
Only OP knows whether assessment would aid her DD or hinder her. We can't tell- we are all projecting our own experiences onto it- as is OP who wants her DD to be what she wasn't whereas she may be quite like her.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Jul-13 15:27:31

One last word- an excellent post from HappyMum22- I would agree with every word- especially on how to treat the shy child- and the thing that rang the bell loudly was the label- if you are called shy it is doubly difficult to break out- you can't stand the surprise and attention it will give.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 15:33:26

Ds is extremely passive, introvert and suffers with severe anxiety. He also has ASD. He doesn't have a diagnosis of SM, however when relaxed and comfortable he can talk for England, when nervous, anxious or uncomfortable he chooses not to speak or engage.

One of the things that CAMHS recommend is gradual exposure to the situations he finds stressful, rather than avoidance.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 15:39:44

I couldn't agree more with everything exotic has said.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 15:50:30

"The current edition, DSM-IV-TR (APA, 2000) states that the following criteria must be met in order to qualify for a diagnosis of selective mutism:

An inability to speak in at least one specific social situation where speaking is expected (e.g., at school) despite speaking in other situations (e.g., at home); The disturbance has interfered with educational or occupational achievement or with social communication; The duration of the selective mutism is at least one month and is not limited to the first month of school; The inability to speak is not due to to a lack of knowledge of or discomfort with the primary language required in the social situation; and, The disturbance cannot better be accounted for by a communication disorder (e.g. stuttering) and does not occur exclusively during the course of a pervasive developmental disorder, schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder"

I agree with Exotic, in as much as it is totally up to the parents who know their child best to decided whether they feel their child needs expert support or not.

dev9aug Thu 04-Jul-13 15:51:27

I am sorry Exoticfruits but as well intentioned your points are, the OP is clearly concerned about it to come on here and ask for help. Your posts are based on your own experiences and there is nothing wrong with that as thats what ilikemysleep is doing. So if there is something going on there, then whats the harm in seeking professional advice.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 16:10:20

There seems to some confusion between the difference of a 'label' and a diagnosis. Labels are 'shy', 'rude' 'disruptive' etc and can be damaging to a child.

Diagnosis is the act of deciding the nature of a disease, situation, problem, etc. by examination and analysis. It hopefully brings understanding, help and support, improvements and better outcomes.

Without a diagnosis is often when damaging 'labels' come into play. Rather than understanding, help and support a child is labelled 'shy' 'disruptive' etc, etc.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 16:18:16

Yes Claw. And even the DSM is becoming notorious for labelling natural characteristics as illnesses or disorders, requiring treatment or even drugs. This edition (V) they want to label bereavement grief which lasts "too long" - as a psychiatric illness.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 16:26:27

That hasn't been my experience of the mental health service, quite the opposite in fact, they often decline referrals, extremely long waiting lists and very reluctant to diagnose. Diagnosis = help and support = spending money. I would say its in their best interest not to diagnosis unless absolutely necessary.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 16:27:43

Yes Claw tb fair I wasn't talking about the NHS but the DSM manual smile

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 16:28:18

As in the people who write it are more likely to be linked with the people who get the money. grin

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 16:41:58

Im not so sure about that, as with all NHS services the government is constantly cutting spending/budgets and in a lot of cases services are simply not available to many. All services in my experience are often offered incentives to save money.

I feel uncomfortable with the implication that diagnosis are made up, rather than recognised, it takes me back 50 years to when parents were to blame for ASD for being cold mothers. Or when bad parenting was reasonable for ADHD or when all people suffering from depression just needed a kick up the arse.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 16:46:50

I would also point out that you don't NOT have to accept a diagnosis. So if they have now labelled bereavement grief which lasts "too long" - as a psychiatric illness, it must be because it has been debilitating for the people suffering with it.

If someone who is suffering from grief for 'too long' didn't want the diagnosis or thought it was a load of rubbish. They do not have a) seek help in the first place or b) accept a diagnosis.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 16:49:18

Oops excuse my grammar, I have a puppy pulling on my shoe laces!

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 17:04:30

Crumbled seems you have 'labelled bereavement grief which lasts "too long" - as a psychiatric illness' confused with DSM lifting "bereavement exclusion” — a DSM-IV rule that instructed clinicians not to diagnose major depressive disorder (MDD) after the recent death of a loved one (bereavement) — even when the patient met the usual MDD criteria.

"Unfortunately, the DSM-5’s decision continues to be misrepresented in the popular media.

Consider, for example, this statement in a recent (5/15/13) Reuters press release:

“Now [with DSM-5], if a father grieves for a murdered child for more than a couple of weeks, he is mentally ill.”

This statement is patently false and misleading. There is nothing in the elimination of the bereavement exclusion that would label bereaved persons “mentally ill” simply because they are “grieving” for their lost loved ones. Nor does the DSM-5 place any arbitrary time limit on ordinary grief, in the context of bereavement — another issue widely misrepresented in the general media, and even by some clinicians.

By removing the bereavement exclusion, the DSM-5 says this: a person who meets the full symptom, severity, duration and impairment criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) will no longer be denied that diagnosis, solely because the person recently lost a loved one. Importantly, the death may or may not be the main, underlying cause of the person’s depression. There are, for example, many medical causes for depression that may happen to coincide with a recent death"

Goldmandra Thu 04-Jul-13 17:29:45

In my experience and that of many other parents I know whose children have SNs of some sort, professionals are very reluctant to diagnose children with any sort of disorder. The very last thing they want to do is single children out, draw attention to their differences, make a big thing about special treatment or label them.

Quite the opposite is the case in fact. We have just reluctantly accepted been informed that my DD2 needs increased support in school and the biggest concern expressed by the professionals involved in any discussion about her is how to offer her support without making it apparent either to her or to her peers.

All teachers use strategies to support the needs and learning of individual children dozens, if not hundreds of times every single day in the classroom. That is part and parcel of understanding and getting the best from the children they are working with. Suggested strategies for working with a child who is shy have already been identified on this thread and I know these will have been used in classrooms all across the country throughout today.

Teachers can't be expected to be experts in every illness or disability and sometimes they need advice from specialists to help them to fully understand and meet the needs of a particular child, possibly by adjusting their approach slightly or offering helpful group activities. With SM these could be simply slight extensions of what the teacher would already do for a shy child and there's no reason for them to cause negative experiences.

Where a parent has a serious concern about their child's ability to access normal, everyday activities or the impact a difficulty is having on their self esteem, it is perfectly appropriate for them to consider asking for specialist advice. Sometimes the wait for that advice will be long and the problem will resolve itself in the meantime which is great.

I have come across several teaching staff who have a rigid view that identifying a particular need in a child is labeling them in a negative way and that it should be avoided. I find this attitude quite bizarre as I am yet to see an incidence of a child I know being put at a serious disadvantage as a result of having a diagnosis which explains their additional needs. I have, however, seen countless examples of children being severely and repeatedly damaged when labeled as naughty, disobedient, difficult, challenging, manipulative, lazy, willful, attention seeking, selfish, rude, anti-social, spoilt, etc due to the fact that their additional needs have not been assessed and identified.

Clumsy oafs, of course, exist in all walks of life and there's always a chance that someone inept could make the whole thing worse for a child. This person could be, but is unlikely to be, a specialist who has been brought in to help. It could just as easily be a parent, lunchtime supervisor, teacher, TA or GP. It isn't a reason not to look for support if a child needs it and the specialist could be the person who spots someone who thinks throwing the child in the deep end is the way to go and sorts them out smile.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 17:46:31

"Of the 170 DSM panel members 95 (56%) had one or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. One hundred percent of the members of the panels on 'Mood Disorders' and 'Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders' had financial ties to drug companies. The leading categories of financial interest held by panel members were research funding (42%), consultancies (22%) and speakers bureau (16%)."

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 17:48:45

Claw: it is not uncontroversial. You come down on one side of the argument. There is another.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 17:52:38

ps I wish I had a puppy.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Thu 04-Jul-13 17:54:53

I am sorry to hear your child has SN, Gold sad. Deep end would not help her, I agree. Fingers crossed though that OP's child is NT and things will resolve in time for her.

Goldmandra Thu 04-Jul-13 17:57:20

ps I wish I had a puppy.

Careful what you wish for! I've just had to manage the mayhem cause by our puppy chewing up a favourite stress ball in the 30 seconds I left the room to go to the toilet!

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 18:58:22

Awww how sweet! (from someone many miles away through the internet and not cleaning up the mess!)

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 19:07:51

Sorry, I wasn't ignoring you, had to take said puppy for a walk!

I suppose it is a case of what came first the chicken or the egg or in this case the condition or investment in pharmaceutical industry.

It is much like the education 'industry' of SN's and provision, where the government have the monopoly on assessment and provision. The same person is responsible for sub contracting assessments of needs, as is providing of provision and purse strings.

Regardless of finance gain, I am sure there are many who have been crippled with severe depression, some maybe even suicidal who have welcomed those drugs/help/support to enable them to function.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 04-Jul-13 19:10:01

Lol don't worry and I'm sure what you say is true.

MumuDeLulu Thu 04-Jul-13 19:17:20

Blimey! An AIBU thread about possible SN / possible far end of 'ordinary' in which the vast majority of posts are respectful and possibly very helpful.

We need to report it. Is this a record?

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 19:25:02

I was just thinking the same, how it turned into an interesting respectful discussion!

MumuDeLulu Thu 04-Jul-13 19:33:15

And covered all the pros and cons of Normalising-wait&see v. Investigating-treating.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 19:39:24

We even covered puppies, which i would highly recommend for socially awkward kids, what more could you ask for!

Goldmandra Thu 04-Jul-13 19:43:15

We even covered puppies, which i would highly recommend for socially awkward kids, what more could you ask for!

Agreed, apart from when said child loses it about the chewed up stress ball. We'd just tidied that bedroom too sad

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 19:59:44

Oh yes Goldmandra smile or when puppy does a runner with a little Moshi Monster figure which ds has carefully lined up in a lovely neat row with all other figures, which NO ONE is allowed to touch!

Although he is forgiven, eventually! Ds chats away to him for hours and has connection with him, he just doesn't take to humans in the same way, puppies are far less complicated!

Goldmandra Thu 04-Jul-13 20:41:47

All seems to be forgiven. She is now rolling round the living room floor being jumped on and licked by the puppy and the Jack Russell. She's in heaven.

I just have to source and new blue and green globe stress ball now.

I blame the OP for starting such a stimulating thread that I forgot to move it before leaving the room wink

ilikemysleep Thu 04-Jul-13 20:49:13

Cracking post up there, Goldmandra. (not the puppy one, lovely though that is, the long one smile ) You said more or less what I was trying and failing to say. Thanks.

claw2 Thu 04-Jul-13 21:13:25

"In my experience and that of many other parents I know whose children have SNs of some sort, professionals are very reluctant to diagnose children with any sort of disorder"

My experience exactly, it took us 3 and half years to get a diagnosis.

"I have come across several teaching staff who have a rigid view that identifying a particular need in a child is labeling them in a negative way and that it should be avoided"

Again my experience exactly, it was due to ill informed or inexperienced teachers, that prolonged the whole diagnosis process and in fact was very detrimental to the support that ds received and made his behaviour far worse.

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