Selective mutism explained by someone who experienced it as a child


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/02/selective-mutism-explained-by.html


#2

A famous case from the UK

Juvenile delinquents get two years in prison… We got 12 years of hell because we didn’t speak… We lost hope, really. I wrote a letter to the Queen, asking her to get us out. But we were trapped.


#3

Wow she seems like a sweetheart but I can’t help but worry about a girl with CF living in her car. I hope she has friends who can get her to a hospital if she needs. I had a friend with that when I was younger but she died suddenly and young despite years of doing pretty well into adulthood. It’s a horrible disease. On being mute, actually I was like that as a kid. They actually were testing me for cognitive impairment in order to shuffle me off to a “special” school, but I kept acing the tests so they couldn’t get rid of me so easily. Eventually I became good at a couple things and used that to distance myself from others reducing the population of people who expect me to talk to them quite a lot. Then I eventually learned tight scripts to stick to that continually point away from me and towards anything else, or scripts that shut down communication quickly leading to awkwardness and for me the desired effect of ending the interaction. Hard to believe for people who know me through the internet probably but I’m basically a non-actor socially. I avoid everyone but my mother and my boyfriend. For a while I was pushing myself outward all of the time because I always saw myself as flawed or broken because of how painful things other people enjoy are for me. But in the last few years I’ve become more withdrawn, talking mostly to my boyfriend and occasionally my mother, ex-spouse, and work -specific topics with coworkers only in work environments. I got off of social media. It sounds like I’m crashing but honestly I’ve never gotten to ask myself how much is too much and where do I want the line to be before so it feels exciting. I hope kids like this are getting better treatment than when I was a kid. I really only narrowly avoided segregation, I can’t imagine how much worse it would be for a kid who also freezes under the pressure of being hauled off to a hospital, locked in a room with a stranger, and forced to do a confusing array of random actions that stranger commands in order to save oneself from adults who clearly already dislike you. I hope… but considering that hoping kids don’t have to get shot is asking a lot, that hope is very very thin.


#4

My wife and I have worked really hard to stop making excuses when our 3yo daughter doesn’t want to talk to people she doesn’t know well. I’ve tried to cut the words “Sorry, she’s shy” completely out of my lexicon. Being a parent has opened my eyes to how much people have an expectation that children are going to brighten their day and give them a smile and validation regardless of how the child might be experiencing the world. Strangers or acquaintances saying hello to her, then looking up at us and saying “she’s shy huh” with some level or other of judgment or disappointment has started to grate on me in the same way that assholes tell women to smile on street.

Our daughter is a wild thing, bright and expressive, hilarious and imaginative…with people she knows, trusts and likes (and her figurines and stuffed animals.) I’m a naturally gregarious and people-pleasing, but my wife is careful and no-nonsense, and it took me a while to understand and respect her way of approaching the world. But once I did, I realized I was ignoring a lot of bullshit. The world is not always a nice or friendly place. There’s no reason why people should expect children to naturally assume it is.


#5

so, for someone that wants to explain why they talk the way they do, why do they edit out every single pause between words in their video to make it look like they talk different than they really do?


#6

She’s got a great story.
At first I though it’d be a good movie, and then I realized that it is already in the right format.


#7

What a darling child, wish she was one of mine.


#8

CF is a terrible disease and it drastically shortens the life of all who suffer from it. Having made it into her 20’s, she is already past the average lifespan for someone with CF. I had someone in my life for a few years (Mooselungs) who was afflicted with CF. She was very sick into her 20’s but was lucky enough to receive transplant lungs in her mid 20’s. She lived her ‘new lung’ life like every day was her last and she made sure to enjoy herself. She was a lot of fun to be around.

The woman in the video seems to be doing the same thing, living her life to the fullest. Good for her! She deserves to enjoy her life and all this world has to offer!

Regarding the other video, Honda designed the Element for this use. I had an Element and it was an amazing road trip car. I took it up and down the West Coast a few times and on 2 different cross-country trips. It had more than enough room for 2 adults and pets, it was easy to drive, and completely reliable for the entire 130k miles of my ownership. If you want to go on a road trip and you don’t want to invest in an RV or an unwieldy van or SUV, the Element is your ticket!


#9

My son was born in a tiny country town. He was bright and outgoing, but if he showed the least bit of shyness around a stranger, they called him “backward.” This made me so angry at first, because where I come from it means stupid.


#10

My eldest had always been willing to engage with the people we’d see on our nightly walks in the neighborhood, until one day she was all of a sudden very “shy”. Luckily, I’d just read an article about how you should not call a child shy, because they tend to internalize it. Instead, we talk about how sometimes she likes to stay quiet around people she doesn’t know. Then it’s something she does, rather than something she is. She grew out of it, but each of our kids has gone through a similar stage.


#11

I had a student once who had this. I was the only person at the school he would talk to, but his parents said he was fine at home. The general consensus (among the teachers, not his parents) was that he was autistic, but I had some serious doubts about that, since I’ve known autistic people, and I never got that vibe when I was talking with him. Seeing that this is a thing, I think this is a much more likely explanation.

This was in Japan, so my operating hypothesis was that it was some kind of social anxiety, and that since I was, to some extent, outside of the social system that produced the anxiety, he could talk to me.


#12

That SHOULD make you angry; the only other real meaning for that usage is “ignorant” >.<’.


#13

“etc.” meaning any social setting imposed on one by the structure of “society”?
Plenty of folks dread those sorts of events.


#14

We moved back to Canada from Oz when my daughter was half-way through Grade 1. Near the end of the school year we got called in for a parent-teacher conference. The teacher said, “your daughter should be evaluated for autism.” When I asked why, he said that she hadn’t spoken since arriving … 4 months earlier. This absolutely stunned me because at home and out with us in public she was talkative. Stress manifests itself in strange ways.


#15

I had to look “CF”, which stands for “cystic fibrosis”, better known in other languages as “mucoviscidosis”.

It is indeed a terrible disease, but I think your estimate of average lifespan must be corrected. Tremendous progresses were made and life expectancy with modern treatment is over 50 years.


#16

Well in central Maryland it seems to mean shy. Don’t blame me, I’m just the reporter.


#17

Where do they use backward as shy ?? I’ve never heard it used that way before, and I do relate to think that backward comes closer to idiotic rather than sheepish


#18

I remember for whatever reason around 1st 2nd grade I would always have these panic attacks and would want to puke, I would always get a gag feeling but when I got to school everything was fine, it sparked up again later around 4th. Never really found out why


#19

Jason seems like a bit of a butt though.


#20

I was born and raised in the DC/Maryland area, and yes, “backward” means “stupid” or ignorant ^^’.