Aymie was the sweetest little girl. She had so much to share, like all the time. There were times when I had to turn off my ears to get time to think my own thoughts. She even chose to sit in the kitchen and talk to the mum when the children were over at the neighbour’s to play.
Then she started preschool at 4 years old and something happened. Until this day we don’t know what she experienced. The teachers at the preschool told us that she never spoke a word. When she played with her sister and their two friends the teachers saw that she interacted normally, but in the larger group she was silent. Every day.
At home nothing had changed. Coming home at the end of the day she shared all her experiences with me. She was the same happy, chatty little girl. It was difficult to understand that she was a different child at school.
Whatever it was that made her silent in school kept her silent as she grew up. She moved to another school, still not saying a word to anyone. It puzzled us and it puzzled all our close friends. At home she was a different child. Some of our relatives didn’t believe us when we told them about the school Aymie. And her teachers didn’t believe us when we told them she was different at home.
One of Aymies favourite persons in the world, her grandfather, once said with a smile; “I can’t believe that child can manage to be quiet for ten minutes.”
It took years before we found out that Aymie suffered from something called Selective Mutism. A form of social anxiety that makes you not able to talk in specific situations. For Aymie it was school, always school, and in some larger settings. Especially if there were other children present. She has been accused of being rude for not speaking up or saying hello. I remember that old lady in church who was offended by Aymie not returning her smile and hello. But it has nothing to do with rudeness. A person with Selective Mutism often wants to speak and even tries to, but can’t. For people who don’t know, it is difficult to understand. Many tears have been shed over the years. Frustration and grief over a situation that can not be overcome by pure will or determination. It just is.
I have asked Aymie to share her experience of Selective Mutism. To help others with the same condition, but also to help us who don’t understand what it is like. Both Aymie and I will share memories and the journey over the years with you. You will also find some research on Selective Mutism here.
But the main reason I have asked Aymie to start blogging is because I know there is a little chatterbox inside her who is longing to share everything that is on her heart. Joy, wisdom, curiosity, memories and thoughts are just waiting for an audience. And I can’t wait to hear it!