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Social Anxiety and Selective Mutism suport thread lets talk about school

(28 Posts)
AramintaCane Fri 14-Aug-09 13:40:20

Lets hold hands on the way back to school. If you have experiences to share of selective mutism and anxiety disorders. If any tips or advice please say hi especially if your name is jamsandwich grin

I will start. Arriving at school very early rather than late helped us. I found dd prefers to watch the other children arrive and has time to adjust to being in school.

mrz Fri 14-Aug-09 13:51:21

Please ensure the teacher knows don't assume it will have been passed on.

AramintaCane Fri 14-Aug-09 14:14:03

Good point our nursery did not pass on the information despite our requests.

usernametaken Fri 14-Aug-09 16:23:59

I second Mrz- don't assume that all teachers involved with your child will have read any information on your child. DD's report has not been read by her key teachers, we only found out at the end of term when they told us she was behind on social interaction...um, yes...it is in the report. I'll be sending a copy of the report a week or two into school to her Reception teacher. It explains a lot.

We've had a lot of playdates over the holidays with classmates, these are helping so much. What she'll be like when she is in the classroom setting is another matter though, but I would like to hope that her saying the odd word now to her friends might transfer into school.

DD loves school though, she silently participates in everything but refuses to show them anything, a real hider. She is very bright but the school is yet to see that. Thankfully the Psych report shows she is...but the school haven't read it!

AramintaCane Fri 14-Aug-09 16:30:08

Our situation was very similar to yours. Once the teacher had read the report she was excellent though. She did a great deal of internet research and made a huge difference to our dd. By the end of the year dd had improved a great deal.

Playdates help a great deal. Even though my dd did not speak to children at school for some time she made lots of friends. The kids did not see it as a problem at all.

oneplusone Fri 14-Aug-09 16:37:10

I think I might belong to this thread. DS is only 3 so not starting school til next year. But he is very shy and anxious in new settings and new people, he will cling to me and take a long time to feel comfortable.

He has been at day nursery part time since he was 2 and it is only recently that he seems to have made a close friend. He will talk to his friend whilst at nursery but will not talk to any of the staff there.

Is it is this type of thing that you have with your DC's? At home he is happy and confident and a chatterbox, he is only like this outside the home and particularly with new adults. I am worried about him starting at a new nursery this september. He is a really bright and intelligent little boy, but i am sure he will completely clam up with the nursery staff and they will get nothing out of him and not realise how much he knows and how clever he is.

oneplusone Fri 14-Aug-09 16:40:21

Araminta, thank you for your tip regarding arriving early. I have a feeling that might also help DS when he starts nursery, arriving early and establishing himself instead of being thrown into a room full of noisy children. I am always late so will have to change my habits dramatically and soon.

AramintaCane Fri 14-Aug-09 16:43:09

Yes that is the type of thing oneplusone. He is still very young so he may improve and not need extra help though. If you do a google search for selective mutism you can see the symptoms. There are also youtube videos about it. SM children are often very bright and people underestimate their abilities because they do not interact at school/nursery.

oneplusone Fri 14-Aug-09 18:55:06

araminta, thank you. I am off to google and youtube. smile

jamsandwich Fri 14-Aug-09 22:27:01

hey, hey, I've found you!
Thank God for the internet, otherwise I would truly have no idea what my dd is going through and would never have found any other parents in the same situation.

We're about to dive into the whole school thing, as people from the heated school uniform thread will know (it wasn't meant to be about the rights and wrongs of uniform! just how to make it more palatable. people really just don't get anxiety, I think)

Anyway, arriving early will be v hard for us, but I think it needs to be done. Maggie Johnson, SM guru, recommends getting to class before school starts, if that can be negotiated with school, so parent and child can get chatting alone first and see how it goes as children arrive. Just have to see if they agree to it.

we've had a few encouraging developments over last few weeks, dd speaking to a few more people than usual, so I've got that weird mix of excitement and terror about her starting school!

asdx2 Sat 15-Aug-09 07:33:00

At ds's secondary school he has a sheet of paper on his desk and "participates" in class discussion by writing his thoughts or answers down. He's quite happy for teacher to read them so long as they don't pick up the sheet and seemingly read to the class but a glance and an acknowledgement is fine.

AramintaCane Sat 15-Aug-09 12:15:34

jamsandwich - you are right about people not understanding anxiety. I have had some awful comments from people over the years. For example that I should just tell dd to pull herself together. If only it were that simple. We even had a SENCO tell us she was just stubborn and naughty.

On the plus side. In general the teachers we have had have been excellent once we have explained things to them properly. DD enjoys school has lots of friends and is very happy.

The getting to school early really does seem to make the morning calmer.

The most important thing to remind the teachers is not to make comments about not speaking. If the teacher boosts confidence in other areas the speech will slowly follow in many cases. Questions such as are you going to be good today and talk to me are not appropriate. Make sure all members of staff know this.

Making a child a helper is good. Asking them to get the register or fruit builds confidence.

Remind the teacher not to give up on asking questions just because they don't answer. They can still ask them to think about a particular thing.

Giving them gestures is helpful as well. When my dd taps the teacher on the shoulder twice this means she wants to go to the tiolet. We agreed this at the start of last year. This saved us from the accidents of the reception year. Now that she is gaining confidence speech is starting to follow.

DD still does show and tell even though she does not speak. She shows and the teacher asks questions that require a yes or no answer. In the beginning she just nodded or shook her head but now she actually answers smile

Lunch times can be a problem make sure you inform the dinnerladies of the situation. They will not know unless you inform them. DD now uses sign language to say thankyou. This saves her being told off for rudeness by staff.

If you are faced with anybody who implies you are just being silly and there is nothing wrong with your child hand them a leaflet and walk away.

BTW not preaching here just want to share what has helped us all so far.

asdx2 thanks for that tip may be useful for us in KS2.

oneplusone Sat 15-Aug-09 12:58:50

I am so glad i have found this thread. I googled and came across some interesting information. One thing that struck me was that this type of behaviour could perhaps be inherited/passed down. And i know where DS could have inherited his social anxiety from: me sad. Because the sort of thing talked about on the websites i came across describe me as well as DS, both as a child and now as an adult. Although as an adult i have managed to find ways to help myself but i have not actually changed the way i feel, i have just learned to cope with it.

Does anyone else identify with me?

admylin Sat 15-Aug-09 13:59:05

I just thought I'd let you know that my dd had SM when she started kindergarden and spent well over a year not speaking at all - the teachers were well trained and understood so they just left her to play and she loved it and even went back to the afternoon optional sessions. Then one day, out of the blue she just started talking to het best friend infront of a teacher who very carefully acted as if it was the most normal thing in the world!

She is still quite anxious about things and is alos a perfectionist so if things go wrong with school work she worried alot but otherwise she's popular and easily makes friends. So all the patience and treating with respect will pay off in the end, there's nothing worse than saying tell her not to be silly or getting angry with SM dc.

AramintaCane Sat 15-Aug-09 13:59:09

Yes oneplusone I can Identify with that smile. Have you read The Higly Senstive Child there is an adult book as well. There have been quite a few people on both sides of our family like dd. It has not stopped them from having very happy and succesful lives though. smile

oneplusone Sat 15-Aug-09 14:14:59

Hi aram, no i haven't read that book, will do so. I am so glad that i found all of you before DS starts at his new nursery so i have a chance to speak to his new teachers and if they are not already aware, hopefully enlighten them about how to get the best out of DS and more importantly how to avoid making him feel even more anxious.

admylin, instinct tells me that that would probably be the best approach for DS. Leave him alone and in his own time he will feel confident to speak to one of the staff and interact more.

I myself have great anxiety about speaking up in front of a lot of people, i am absolutely fine on a one to one basis or in a small group. But i get very anxious indeed if i have to talk out loud in front of a big class or something, and i think that is exactly how DS feels. I don't feel i lack confidence in general, just at 'public speaking' i suppose.

changenameruk Sat 15-Aug-09 18:56:47

dd has sm. she has got better. mute in nursery and reception. started talking a bit in year 1.
tips ?
ask teacher is they can nodd or give a thumbs up for the register.

if there is peer talking as part of a lesson, ask if your child can have a set partner so build confidence.

show and tell - get them to bring in special objects. this was for a long time the only time dd spoke in class

usernametaken Sat 15-Aug-09 19:28:38

I second (or third) all the 'Show and Tell' tips. It took DD 6 months to take anything in, but once she started she never stopped! She didn't say anything to begin with, more a nod or shake of the head. By the end of term she was saying the odd word or two. One day she even took in a swimming certificate which got shown in assembly...and she went on stage and got it! I practically fell over when her teacher told me this. Such a huge step for her.

AramintaCane Sun 16-Aug-09 09:46:19

Being second in the queue for things really helps my DD. For exapmle in a swimming class when they take it turns to jump in. First is too much pressure anywhere near the end of the queue allows anxieties to build and she will not do it. Second is about right. It may help to ask a teacher to consider it if you have a problem with this. It also helped with gym/answering register at school. Now that confidence has built up she will do it anyway.

jamsandwich Tue 18-Aug-09 20:31:19

I also HATE public speaking (not that keen on small groups either sometimes) so at least it helps me identify with DD's anguish.

I also found the Highly Sensitive Child/ Person very relevant to us both. It has really helped me understand why my brother has such problems relating to my dd. He doesn't have any dc, no other niece or neph and does love kids so it should be a straightforward match. But I can tell he really strugggles with the relationship (while she dotes on him, and can speak to him too). e.g. her needing time to warm up to people/ situations and he can't understand why she can become distressed at his very blunt way of talking (e.g. this weekend, he gave her an ice cream and was straight in there with "aren't you going to say thank you then?") It's the same with her grandfather - both men are totally "non-sensitive".

if only we could do an HSP profile on the teaching staff and try to find those that will "get it"!

oneplusone - have you looked at SMIRA chat forums? They have one for adult sufferers/ ex sufferers, if you think you might fit this category. or are you seeing it more as social anxiety?

AramintaCane Wed 19-Aug-09 09:39:38

hmmm I agree with the profile bit that would be good. Last year we had a brilliant empathic teacher. I have met this years teacher and I think it will not be the same.

jamsandwich Wed 19-Aug-09 20:45:39

what amazes me, when you do find the empathic people who really get the whole SM thing, is how they can get to know your dc so well, without ever hearing them speak.

DD just had last day of nursery with our very, very favourite member of staff - 60 year old very nurturing woman who has cared for hundreds of other dcs. Yet she has been telling me for weeks how upset she will be on dd's last day, greeted us with tears in her eyes, just at the sight of dd and carried on all day fighting off the tears, according to her colleague. She also wrote the sweetest note to dd - all this without ever having heard her say more than a handful of words in 18 months!

this isn't meant to be a promotional piece about just how marvellous dd is (no, honestly wink), more to offer reassurance that the right people can really get to know them, nurture and love them for what they are, even without ever hearing them.

somehow, dd and I managed to get her into a position of being everyone's favourite at nursery - a delightful enigma rather than a touchy pita which I was scared was how they would see her. Obviously, personality shows itself without speech. The puzzle is now how to get her into the same position in school, where there are twice the number of children and a lot more pressure to conform. My fear is that she will be overlooked, as she will be quiet and try to fade into the background, at first at least.

jamsandwich Mon 07-Sep-09 20:01:07

OK then, where are you all? I've been resisting posting.

First day was today. Drop-off was OK, collection ecstatic and she is full of positive things to say about school, so far so good. But of course I can't ask her if she spoke and no chance to speak to poor besieged teachers. I sent a book in with her, as agreed with teacher, for them to note down her non-verbal/ any verbal communication etc. No sign of it this pm, not surprisingly for first day of term.

Just wondering how often other people get/ got feedback from teachers? What is reasonable to ask for? I want a daily digest, but realise it's not realistic. And prefer not to discuss as old radar-ears will pick up everything we say and that can increase her anxiety.

Any tips/ thoughts/ news from you all?!

usernametaken Mon 07-Sep-09 20:12:52

My DD is doing brilliantly- all the enforced socialising I arranged over the summer is paying off! I feel that we have turned a huge corner. I don't know how much she is talking to the teachers (or if she is talking at all) but she looks happy and she is playing with her friends.

I'll investigate further on friday when she's had more time to settle and for the novelty of school to wear off, but I am hopeful that we are over a hump right now.

jamsandwich Mon 07-Sep-09 20:41:14

Oh that's brilliant news, well done! Do report back!

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