Meet Leila

After being diagnosed with Selective Mutism, Leila found the SMart Center and started working through her nerves and anxieties after finding the SMart Center and working with Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum. After going through an Individualized Intensive with us and continued care, Leila wrote an essay for the National Honors Society on her experience with Selective Mutism.

Read Leila’s SM journey from her own perspective below!

“I remember the day I was diagnosed with selective mutism. I was confused and nervous for what was to come, as I barely knew anything about the disorder. The Dr. Suess quote, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” describes my journey with selective mutism well. Shortly after my diagnosis, I went to the SMart Center, a place that specializes in selective mutism. There I met Dr. E., whose daughter had selective mutism, and who has dedicated her life’s work to researching selective mutism and how to effectively treat it. She didn’t stop at her daughter. Dr. E created a center with the mission to treat kids with selective mutism. Kids from around the world. I am fortunate to be one of those kids. My first appointment with Dr. E, I was nervous and unsure of what to expect, but I have never felt more understood in my life. For the first time, I felt like someone knew exactly what I had been going through for so long, and more than that, Dr. E knew the way out. For the first time in a long time, I felt hope. Hope that I would not be scared to use my own voice forever. It’s not an easy journey and I still struggle today, but the hope of getting through it at all would not have been possible without Dr. E’s program. Not without her caring for her daughter. Not without her caring enough to want to help kids everywhere who struggle with the same thing. Not without her caring a whole awful lot about kids like me. Now a camp counselor at the SMart Center, I use my voice to tell other kids it’s going to get better. It is.”

Leila now is a junior Communicamp counselor, working directly with other kids who have also been through the program and process and making new patients feel comfortable and safe as they work with the SMart Center.