B1 Intermediate AU 194 Folder Collection
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At first glance, three year old Maya appears to be a perfectly normal little girl.
She's confident, cheerful, and mischievous.
But when people spend time with her, they realize something's missing.
"Maya, can you tell me how old you are and where you're from?"
Her voice, Maya, has selective mutism.
Maya can speak, but in front of most people, she chooses not to.
"Would you like *food*?"
Instead, she resorts to noises and gestures to communicate.
*child speaks in home video*
"I think she started being selectively mute about a year ago."
"She stopped talking to people that were acquaintances of ours."
"If we bumped into people in the supermarket or wherever, she would just go quiet."
"Then, close friends she's just suddenly stopped talking to."
"And then within the last four months, she's stopped talking to grandparents...um...in fact, everyone."
"You're not gonna do Hickory Dickory Dock with me?"
*child shakes head, makes noise*
"Why not? Would you like to go home?"
*child nods*
What's baffled Maya's parents is that when she's on her own,
with her immediate family, not only does she talk,
but she's an extremely confident and chatty little girl.
Brother: "Hello Maya, what are you?"
"I...I'm...I'm a elephant!"
Brother: "Is it fun to be a elephant?"
"Yes! Look at this trunk!"
"I find it very upsetting. It's like people look her and think, 'Well, can't she talk?'"
"Yeah, she can."
"They don't see it. They just see this child that says nothing."
"Or grunts." "Or grunts."
"And uh...and that has been frustrating."
"What are you looking for?"
*child points and makes noise*
"A bear, that's right!"
"The key factor about selective mutism
is that children can speak fully and freely in one situation,
*elephant noise* Maya: "That sound like my elephant!"
but not in others."
"How come Beauty's wearing a blue dress?"
"Selective mutism has been thought of as being a phobia
uh...and the child has acute anxiety about the expectation to talk."
When there's no expectation to talk during the car journey Maya is extremely chatty and verbal.
Maya: "When I grow up I want to be Cinderella and the toothfairy!"
"Do you?"
Until she realizes that she's arrived at a family friend's home.
"We're at Auntie Jennings." "We are at Auntie Jennings."
And at that moment, she completely shuts down and becomes silent.
"When they're out and about they're constantly on their guard,
looking, you can see the sort of watchful, wary looks that they have."
"Wondering if people are going to expect them to talk."
"Or put demands on them to talk."
"So what else are you going to do on your birthday?"
"What else are you going to do on your birthday?"
"It doesn't make sense to me. I can't make sense of her having this condition."
"You used to talk, didn't you?"
"Why are we saying 'shhhh' ?"
"You have to be quiet!"
"I have no idea how the next few years are going to be."
"What I'm concerned about is getting the right treatment for her."
"Do you think now that you'd like to talk to all these people?"
"Because I just don't know how to talk to all my people."
While Maya's parents continue in their search for treatment,
another family, who knows exactly what they're going through, are the Hancocks.
Their daughter, Luisa, was selectively mute between the ages of 3 and 5.
"Towards the age of 3, I realized that something wasn't quite right."
"As soon as she went into a group situation with friends, she would remain silent."
After extensive research, the couple found Alison Wintgen's Selective Mutism Resource Manual invaluable.
"It's helpful to avoid eye contact, which is rather different from how you would normally talk to a child who has difficulty talking."
"And to avoid asking them questions."
"It's very helpful if people offer a selectively mute child the opportunity to speak but not the expectation to speak."
"Sometimes when I'm talking to selectively mute children, I say
'Ooh, I wonder if you might be somebody who likes drawing,
or perhaps you'd prefer to do building.'"
"But I'm not expecting them to answer."
"But they just might."
It took 2 1/2 years before Luisa's mom finally noticed that her daughter
was starting to show signs of improvement.
"It was a real breakthrough. It happened to be on a playdate.
We had one of Luisa's friends just around to play as you do
and she'd shut the door behind her, which is not unusual
And I was downstairs and all of a sudden I thought, 'I'm sure I can hear two voices up there.'
I went upstairs. That's Luisa speaking.
She's talking to her friend.
And for me that was quite an emotional moment."
Luisa's journey is testimony that with hard work and support,
this unusual condition can be overcome.
"I can't imagine to stop talking now."
"As I am now a chatterbox, so I just knew I would start talking again."
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This Morning Selective Mutism

194 Folder Collection
Liao published on January 9, 2017
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