Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Holidays

The holidays are upon us.  Only a week to go and ol' St. Nick will be making the rounds.  We spent Thanksgiving with one of my very best friends and her family, it was a wonderful day.  More importantly I was so proud of the girls.  They were answering forced choice questions with people they barely knew.  They were being bribed shamelessly with left over Halloween candy, but whatever works right?!  I even got reports of them saying "Please, Thank you and reciting first names!"  Our psychologist has said before that those three are the hardest for SM kids to say.  I kept hearing from everyone too how relaxed the kids looked. Their body language wasn't quite so curled in and they did a much better job with their eye contact and maintaining it. 
I think I can say this for all parents of kids with SM.  People outside your child's vocal circle don't get to experience your child like you do and we just want them to see what we see in them.  I have friends who just oooooh and ahhhh when we're on the phone and one of the girls is hassling me, like ALL kids do.  Sometimes that's the only opportunity they get to hear my kids.  I had recently posted a video of my two reciting the pledge of allegiance on my Facebook.  For some of my family members that's the first time they've ever heard them talk beyond saying "hi."
I am diligent with trying to help my kids get over the anxiety they feel and to help them connect and build relationships with those that want to love them so badly.  They deserve to be able to be confident enough to tell their Grandma they love them. 
I saw great strides just this past week in fact.  Last year I took them to a portrait studio to get their yearly pictures taken.  It took nearly an hour to get a few decent shots.  This year I told the girls what my plans were and that if they were brave and looked at the camera, held still and kept their hands down away from their face we could go and visit Santa.
Days ago I was shocked when they asked to go see him.  Since they've been 2 I quit taking them to go see Santa cause they'd throw such a fit.  This year they wanted to make sure he knew what they wanted for Christmas.  They dictated a list to me just in case they couldn't tell him and promised to sit on his lap and look at the camera for a quick picture. 
The seeing Santa bribe worked.  We were in and out of the portrait studio in under an hour with pictures in hand.  I took them to the mall and they got to see Santa.  They even said "Hi" to him without much coaxing and sat on his lap to get their pictures taken without fidgeting. 
If we go somewhere through out the week to run errands they ask to "be brave" to the people we may encounter.  Lately I've been telling them, "You don't have to ask to be brave, just be brave and say hello."  Not sure how to transition them to start spontaneously speaking on their own to these folks.   A question to ask the psychologist on our next visit. 
We've taken a break from our curriculum and have been enjoying the holidays.  We've been counting down the days til Christmas and learning about the birth of Jesus.  It's been a nice break.  I'm hoping they don't completely forget their vowels sounds by the time we start back in a couple weeks.  Keep your fingers crossed for me. 
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and my God bless you abundantly in the New Year.   

PS. Hug your little ones no matter how big they may be a little tighter and don't take anything for granted.  Tomorrow is not promised, that's why today is called "the present." 


  1. Hi Deanna,
    I was just researching homeschooling children with SM, when I came across your blog. I have a 9-yr old with Selective Mutism and she's been making great strides.
    You were curious about how to get your girls to spontaneously speak to people they encounter, but I was thinking about how "far along" something like that is for a child with SM. My daughter started to communicate socially first by doing hand over/take over. It's a more gradual step to social communication; like steps one would take reduce a phobia. I would take my daughter out and she would hand money/credit card/menu/keys whatever to the cashier or waiter and the person would hand them back. This really helps... then there are other steps to take as your child gets more comfortable just handing things to people. (Like you giving two choices on a menu in front of a waiter and asking your child to point to one. When she gets comfortable with pointing, you might move on to a verbal reply.) Initiating speech is one of the last steps. My daughter has been initiating in some cases now! We have had to follow these other steps first to get here, though. I'd be happy to give you more info and the name of the SMart center, where they specialize in SM. It seems like you're doing a great job and maybe you already even do some of the social communication steps that we've learned, but I couldn't help sharing because they are so crucial to helping my daughter (as well as my other 4 kids who have varying degrees of Social Anxiety.) I'm off to read some of the earlier entries on your blog :) Wishing you the best. -Dianna P.

  2. Oh Dianna! This is brilliant! Yes, they do have lots of hesitation just on handing something over. Just today I was trying to get them to show someone their little cats they had brought along on our adventures out. Neither one of them wanted to oblige me. But this is a great place to start. We've been seeing a therapist for over a year and it's always been the speech/fear hierarchy ladder that they work on. It's never occurred to me to take little steps like this but it makes so much sense. Thank you so much for sharing and your insight. I would love it if you could stop by once in a while and offer your wisdom and progress on your children.


Be brave.....