“My parents first noticed that I was struggling from Selective Mutism when I was about three-years-old and would socially “shut down” during preschool and Sunday School. I could not speak or communicate in any way with anyone outside of my immediate family.
My younger self described it as a “dragon inside of my brain, and I wished that “either a wizard would make it go away or that it would die.” I wanted to talk so badly, but I physically could not.
My parents found Dr. E when I was four. I remember treatment because it was the first time that someone else truly understood what I was going through. Dr. E introduced me to her Ritual Sound Approach® (RSA®), which I went through with all of my teachers and preschool classmates. By the end of preschool, I had truly conquered SM and even sang with my peers in a springtime performance.
My advice to families currently affected by Selective Mutism would be to believe that they can indeed conquer this. Keep pushing. Treatment can be time-consuming, but it is SO worth it. Currently, I am living a very full life. I have so many amazing friends, and I’m involved in several school activities. I am passionate about the performing arts, and right now I am planning on majoring in music education. If my parents had not pursued full treatment, I would never have had the opportunity to discover my passion for music, and I would never have gotten to know so many of the wonderful people in my life. So have faith. Carry out treatment all the way. There is SO much hope! Never give up, because the end result will be so rewarding.”
To effectively overcome Selective Mutism and all anxieties, an individual needs to be involved in a treatment program, such as those rooted in evidenced-based Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®), like Individualized Intensives and CommuniCamp. Developed by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum, this holistic or “whole-person” treatment approach is designed to reduce anxiety, build self-esteem, increase social comfort and communication in all settings.
As a physician, Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum (“Dr. E”) views SM as a social communication anxiety where mutism is merely a symptom. The key to an effective treatment plan is understanding factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of SM as well as understanding a child’s baseline stage of social communication on the Social Communication Bridge®. Then, working as a team, the treatment professional, parents, and school staff members help the child build coping skills to combat anxious feelings and to progress across the Social Communication Bridge©.