Myth No. 1 – Selective Mutism is just shyness. Kids with Selective Mutism will grow out of it.
Selective Mutism is a type of social anxiety that is much more extreme than ordinary shyness; it’s a paralyzing inability to speak which interferes with a child’s life and development. While some children do eventually overcome SM without treatment, they may endure years of suffering and miss out on age-appropriate activities and development.
Selective is NOT shyness, Don’t get me wrong we thought for a long time Evelena was just painfully shy and would eventually outgrow it. But as time went on, and as told in my post ‘Evelena and Selective Mutism’, she never started the ‘growing out of it’ process.
When I think of how SM differs from shyness I think of my eldest son Keelan who was a shy little boy, I remember all to well him clinging onto the car not wanting to go into the party, being the only mum in the room sat on the side-lines with Keelan planted firmly beside me watching all the other boys play football, too shy to join in, me sat with the fixed grin trying to look really cool about it when all I wanted to do was go home! I always tried to involve him in these ‘activities’ thinking it was a good idea and help with overcoming his shyness, it never did! Only time was going to do that.
However, unlike Evelena, as Keelan grew older he started to outgrow and leave his shyness behind and now at the ripe old age of 14 his shyness is all but a distant memory now replaced with an array of teenage challenges, one being how to avoid the embarrassment of being seen in public with his parents!!
Fortunately, Evelena is not an overally timid child, in lots of ways a very confident child which is one reason I think people often just assume she is just shy. However, Evelena has a real anxiety that has buried itself deep in her and in some ways it has become a way of life for her, but it’s a ‘way’ she now wants rid of, she wants to talk like her brothers and sister and everyone else out in the big world and is currently working really hard to overcome this hurdle. Go Evelena!