Most parents wish they could see into the future to know what lies ahead for their child so they can make the best choices and decisions when coping with Selective Mutism. One of the most important things parents can do is to be assertive and effective advocates for their child’s needs. For those just beginning the journey, it is helpful to learn from other families’ experiences.
1. Know your child’s disorder.
Knowledge is power, especially when working with your child’s mental healthcare team. To be an effective advocate for your child, you need to be an educated parent. This may mean doing your own research about your child’s disorder or speaking to other families who have been through the process.
2. Build a trusting relationship with your mental health provider.
Your relationship with him/her is essential to your ability to advocate for your child’s emotional needs. It is crucial that your mental health providers see you and your child as vital members of the treatment team. It is important to be able to communicate openly and honestly about your concerns and doubts. If you do not feel satisfied with your care providers, you may need to find health care professionals you are able to trust and with whom you feel more comfortable. While it may feel awkward to switch, you and your child are the ones who have to cope with Selective Mutism.
3. Seek support.
The ups and downs associated with Selective Mutism can feel overwhelming at times. No one knows this better than another family who has been living through the ordeal. Talking with other families can enhance your knowledge, coping skills, and ability to advocate for your child. Remember, you are not alone!
4. Speak up and be persistent.
While diplomacy is important if you are not comfortable with your child’s care, speak up. You may need to be quite persistent, as people don’t always respond as quickly or as openly as you would like.
5. Trust your intuition.
Some of the most crucial pieces of information have come from parents who trusted their intuition. Even if it doesn’t make sense to others, it is important to follow-up until you feel comfortable. Regret is difficult to live with over time.
The above article was found in Transplant Chronicles, Vol. 6, No. 2 –Laura Basili, Ph. D., Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The article was adapted for the Selective Mutism child as it related to how all parents can advocate for their child no matter what the medical or mental health disorder is.