adult family member with selective mutism - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-26-2011, 01:05 PM Thread Starter
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adult family member with selective mutism

I have pretty bad social anxiety myself. However, this post is actually about my husband's sister. I am pretty sure she has selective mutism. I have known her since she was seven years old, and she still will not speak directly to me and my husband. (My husband is much older than her so they did not grow up in the same house together.) I played with her when she was a little kid and she whispered one or two sentences to me at the time. Other than that, she's only spoken about 7 words in my presence over the past 11 years and none of them were directed to my husband or me.

I blame a lot of the problem on her family. They would keep pointing out how she wasn't speaking and when she just waved to a family member, her mom made a huge deal out of it. Even as a teenager, when she was interested to new people, she was automatically introduced as the one who won't say anything to them. So it's not too surprising she's always felt more comfortable saying completely silent than saying a single word.

I can't help feeling that we've missed out on having a relationship with her because of this, and that she's missed out as well. I don't want her to feel like she has to talk all the time, but I don't want her to feel so anxious around us that she feels the need to hide and not say a single word. It's a catch-22 though. When we speak to her, she clearly seems really anxious and uncomfortable. When we don't speak to her, it reinforces the expectation that she won't talk. I'm trying to make sure her boyfriend gets included in our conversations since she's always with him, but I wonder if anybody else has any other ideas for what I could do. She is moving out with her boyfriend to a town that's closer to where my husband and I live, and I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to offer to take them out to dinner. Can anybody relate to her, or does anybody have insight onto the situation?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-26-2011, 01:52 PM
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i have a few traits of selecive mutism and i refuse to go out to dinner with my family because i feel so much pressure to talk in sit down restaurants where waiters and other people can look at your tale and see if conversation is happening. i would just want to maybe start out with us doing something together like watching a movie or something and you talking to her every now and then even if she doesnt answer. i think the more she hears your voice without feeling obligated to say something is reassureing. you could also help her move in with her bf, being friendly and supportiv all the way. then, just keep slow progress from there
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-26-2011, 02:27 PM
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I can identify with her. I was reading the post and I was like, "Omg, are they talking about me?!" But then I remembered that none of my brothers were married when I was seven, so it can't be me. But, had one of my brothers married when I was seven, I could totally see this happening.

Thinking... if you were my sister in law.. Hmm... Maybe you could write to her. Either you could write her a letter/email, for her to read & reply on her own time; or you could get a sheet of paper and write a short message, and see if she writes something back. Personally, I would prefer the short message/response, as I get intimidated by longer messages from people I don't know very well; but I don't know what she would prefer. Maybe she doesn't like people watching her write, and would prefer to write letters out of sight. Either way, if someone did this for me, I would know that they were attempting to communicate with me without making me talk to them, and I would appreciate it. Just an idea, it may or may not work for her, but it would work for me.

Good luck, whatever you decide to do

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