My daughter is happy to talk at home, but NOT at many OTHER PLACES or with MANY OTHER PEOPLE!
Going back a couple of years, my two year old was a very confident, outgoing little girl; who loved singing, dancing and storytelling. From a parent point of view; I had no concerns for her… from my Speech Pathologist point of view, her oral language skills were certainly developing age appropriately.
She started childcare at 2 ½ years of age, and was always happy to go there. On the way home after pick up time; she would recount the events of the day with enthusiasm. Home play activities often included her role playing as one of her teachers, whilst her little sister was the “student”.
All sounds pretty typical right?
A few months into that year; it became apparent whilst talking to her teachers, that my daughter was not actually “using her words” to communicate.
“Wow! Why?! Really?! She is totally different at home, very loud and vocal!” Was my initial surprised reaction.
I then wondered about Selective Mutism; I had seen children at work that fit this category, I check out their speech and language skill development to determine if I need to have any professional input, and then I get a Psychologist on board to assist with the social anxiety, presenting as Selective Mutism. So that is what I did with my daughter.
The psychologist sessions were great. They assisted in setting realistic goals at home and other everyday environments (relatives/ friends places; supermarket, cafes etc.) The Psychologist also directly liaised with the childcare; to set up goals there; so everyone was on the same page. This had my daughter progress quickly and positively.
One of the things that I was (and still am) very mindful of was to not label my daughter “shy”, particularly in front of her. I felt that applying this label may provoke her to try and “fit the mould”. I found it quietly annoying when people would call her “shy” when she didn’t respond to their bombardment of questions!
She has certainly come a long way since then. She is just turned 4, and will still prefer some ‘warm up’ time around new people; and continued monitoring/ review of how she is progressing.
Getting some help was certainly worthwhile, and most of all, it is lovely to have other people enjoy the wonderful personality that she has, and the joys she has to offer!
This article was published in the November 2014 issue of Shire’s Children www.shireschildren.com.au