Selective Mutism - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Selective Mutism

I have been reading about selective mutism and believe I have had this most of my life.

I believe I had separation anxiety when I was 4 or so. When my mother was driving me to the daycare, I would start getting anxious. It would make me sick. As she took me inside to say goodbye, I would start crying. It happened for many months.
Then when I started kindergarten, I felt nervous and anxious, but don't remember the tears. I just remember the sick feeling. I didn't talk, but would try to play with groups during playtime/recess.

In first grade I remember my teacher not having the patience an elementary teacher should have. She would call on me and I would not answer. Too afraid. She called my parents in for a meeting. She told them that I was too immature for a first grader and that they should take all my toys, games and stuffed animals away from me for good. She thought this was the way and I would start talking. My family hid all my things from me and I started to panic. I had to get all my stuff back so I started looking for it, found it and claimed my stuff. To this day I really do get upset thinking back to that teacher.

I remember always feeling uneasy in all my classes in elementary school. I was scared. If I was called on in class, I would answer with "I don't know". Even if I knew the answer, I usually froze, and could not recall it.
I did not want the attention on me.

I remember feeling relaxed in one class -4th grade- I think. There was a reading area that had bean bag chairs and bright carpet. I was able to feel calm and relaxed in that area. Once reading time was up, it was back to the desks and I would get anxious again.

My school mates would call me "shy" and I thought that is what I was.
I somehow made it through elementary school and then there was middle school. There were more people in middle school - It was about six times the size of elementary school. New faces. I was excited because I was getting older, but scared because I would have to meet new people.

I took a speech class because of peer pressure. It was the most stressful because I obsessed over this class and it took over my life. Worried all the time. I made it through, but really was embarrased and did not want to see people from that class.

I had a bully that made fun of me because of my acne. I had horrible acne and was in such pain mentally because of this. The bully would greet me with "Hello Zit" each day. Could not avoid this person and this person was in a popular group so I did not know what to say. I would be in tears by the end of the day.

I would talk to close friends, but would not speak up in the classroom. That really scared me. I still did not want to be called on in the classroom.

I remember another bully walking behind me and swinging his backpack in his hand. His backpack picked up momentum and he hit my legs. I flew into the air and my books went everywhere. I landed in front of a crowd that was talking between classes. They all looked at me and laughed.
I did not know what to do. I couldn't believe this was happening to me.
I had never done anything like that to anyone.
I think my face turned red and I ran away in tears. The bully kept laughing.

High school was another story. I was merely trying to make it through each day. I could only think that things would get better after I graduated.
It was tough in high school, too. I was never in a group, but had 3-4 friends to rely on. We all had our problems like HS students do.
I had a line in a play that we were doing in a class. I knew my line well and to this day can repeat that line. When it was my turn to speak my line, my heart rate raced, mind raced, I got out one word. Then each word came out about 5 seconds apart. It seemed like longer. I looked at two popular people and they just laughed so hard at me.
I was so upset.

Somehow I made it through HS, but do not want to see any of those people again. It is sad.

Going to the university was even more overwhelming. I tried to pick the courses in the lecture halls so I could blend in. I was nervous when I was on campus, really nervous. If I had to present any project, I would speed through it so fast. I remember a class of about 40 students. Each of us had to research a subject and present it to the class. I did my research, and wrote a paper like I was supposed to. Then we had to present it to the class. I was so scared that I got up to the front, looked out and started reading from the paper. That was all I could do. I made a B, but saw the other students present with strength, using audiovisuals, etc.
I did not take a speech course in college, but if I go back, I may take interpersonal communication first. That might help me if I decide to take a speech class later on.

In the real world, I was working on a job, when I was still having the problem. Here is the story: My boss who had hired me was really great to work for. THis person had anxiety I could tell. This person was a hard worker and was a good person. I had worked with my boss for a few years and I really got comfortable with him. Well, the boss was offered another job and moved on. I suppose I had felt safe and comfortable working for that person and they left. I felt abandoned and felt I could not move forward. Anxious.
Well the Manager tried to have a meeting with a few of us that were still there. No one was really talking. One person up and walked out.
I was overwhelmed. The manager asked me some questions and I froze.
The manager said,"Do you not speak unless Ex- BOSS tells you to?" I could not believe this. I was anxious, was not used to working directly with the manager. I don't remember my reply, but it was prob. like 1 -2 words.

I have always had this and it seems to happen most when I am in a situation with an instructor and classroom of people or with an authoritative person.

Anyone have selective mutism?
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 09:15 PM
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Unfortunately, I do.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-06-2006, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your response. Selective mutism is so debilitating to me. It has caused so much distress in my life. It seems like people just think I am stupid since I have such a problem.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-06-2006, 11:20 AM
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Yeah, i feel that way too. Whenever I am in a classroom and am expected to speak I completely freeze up. And no one really understands why, at this age, I cannot manage to answer a simplle question.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-18-2006, 01:39 PM
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I had it too, from about ages 6 to 9

Started really when I changed schools, although I was very shy before that, but in my new school I never spoke for about 3 years!
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-19-2006, 04:45 AM
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Yeah I have this problem.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-19-2006, 01:56 PM
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My childhood was similar to yours. I had selective mutism at school starting in the third grade when I stopped talking completely at school for a year. I never did say much at school before or after that year.

When I was in first grade the teacher was so mean that I believed she took a job teaching little kids just so she could make them suffer. My second grade teacher for some reason made me sit in the back of the class with a bunch of boys who had failed the year before. I was the only girl back there. I have no idea what that was about.

School buses still make me queasy. I get to see them about every day now because I teach. I think something in me keeps forcing me to find the things that I fear most and do them. I wish I had an easier job that I really loved that paid well. I know my job is just about the most important job anyone could ever have and my admiration for teachers grows everyday. I know I'm having a major impact on these kids, I'm just not sure it's a positive one.

Sometimes when I lecture, I stutter. I never did before but now I do. It usually turns out okay anyway. The kids are sometimes incredibly caring and understanding people. Then again sometimes they can be incredibly hateful, disrespectful and rude.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-19-2006, 05:47 PM
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I had it from ages 5-17

At around 12 it began to get better.

Now i'm just dealing with the remrants of SM to me its like mild SA. It gets better with each year. I'm not shy/quiet/"insert lable here" with everyone. I'm silly, eccentric and random with my friends. But serious and quiet in new situations and in class.

My guy friend told me he started talking to me because I was so quiet in class. Now he says he loves talking to me. He was like "why be so quiet?" I told him why be so loud!

I spoke to this girl i knew in elementary school and she said "omg you are so not shy anymore! its not like speaking to a mute anymore" I wanted to punch her in the face lol. Instead we went to the beach lol.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-21-2006, 07:57 PM
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Yeah i was a selective mute on the school bus ever since i could remember. As in refusing to say one word to anybody... all the way through highschool.

Then i started doing the same thing when junior highschool started, at school. I would only talk if a teacher made me, and refused to talk to other students. I think mostly people thought i was just mentally handicapped or something.

It was too hard to just start talking since i was known as the kid who didn't talk. If i had moved, and been removed from everyone who knew me i'm sure i would have gotten rid of this disorder earlier.

But i went all through high school without speaking for the most part and graduated (still don't know how i managed to do that). Since graduation i have not had any selective mutism incidents, and will talk to anyone because i don't want to get stuck in those situations again.

Now i'm just socially undeveloped and have SA.

first post
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-21-2006, 08:02 PM
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I had this through much of my school years, would barely muster a word, never raised my hand to answer a question, especially kindgergarten and middle school/highschool years. But i really just want to forget that time in my life, I never think about school anymore now that i think of it.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-14-2006, 01:16 PM
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-14-2006, 02:18 PM
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I remember when I first heard about this I was just like wow that makes so much sense it describes me perfectly, especially my childhood. I remember other kids in kindergarten asking me why I never talk.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-15-2006, 06:11 PM
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I had selective mutism pretty much all through junior and senior high. In elementary I wasn't as bad, though I didn't speak at all in kindergarten. The kindergarten teacher told my parents that I either had a learning disability or was mentally handicapped. Luckily, my parents knew that something was amiss since I acted totally different at home compared to school. So, they kept me in the regular school system and I never had a problem with school work or marks, just with getting along with others...yeah.

I had a torturer on the school bus all the way up to high school. He would call me ugly, dumb, and a ton of other things....he wasn't very popular though, so his opinion didn't affect many other people. But, his constant berading just kept me from saying anything...and, when I did of course, it was criticised heavily. His cousin used to be one of my best friends but she never did anything about the torturing. She had become a "popular" girl. I remember she asked me who I was going to ask to the graduation and I told her I hadn't decided. She then told my friends that I thought I could ask anyone I wanted because I thought I was so pretty. I had a small group of friends but, by the end of grade 12 I felt like they wanted very little to do with me, so I pushed them away.

I don't care if I see these people again. I feel like they don't have as much power over me anymore. The sad thing took forever to finally realize I had to let those experiences go. The weird thing was, back in those days, I wasn't too scared to answer questions in class. I remember if I knew an answer, I didn't mind putting up my hand. But, when it came to talking to classmates, forget it. And, I had known most of these people for years because I grew up in a small community. I just felt like they knew me as the "quiet girl," the one who hardly ever spoke, and so I had no idea how to change that perception.....really weird. People still consider me "quiet" but I bet people from high school would be amazed at how much I speak now.

Sometimes I wish I were someone else, but then why not just try to be the person I want to be?

Crazy girl
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-15-2006, 07:47 PM
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Personally, I have note experienced this. However, I would very much recommend the book "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson to anyone who has - and even to those who have not. Technically it's an adolescent lit book (I read it for a class on controversial adolescent books), but it's really powerful. It's about a highschool girl who just stops talking...and no one notices for quite some time. Very good book. It won a bunch of awards, I believe...
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