Tell Us Your Story
We would greatly appreciate testimonials from everyone who has benefited from our work. How has the Selective Mutism Foundation Inc influenced you or your family, students, patients, etc.? What is your story?
“I’m 37 was diagnosed with SM that I recently found out went Thur my life not understanding what was wrong nobody had answers or didn’t understand so I always felt like a outcast. I’ve been doing research and a lot of my wondering has been answered. Doing so might have caused a trigger but I felt like I was alone and tired of why I am the way I am . Not understanding why my parents didn’t explain SM to me even me being a adult makes me feel like a secret. I think me learning about it will help me reverse some of it. I’m on citalopram helps a lot more outspoken still battling being in groups of ppl like a a table setting I get bad fluttering in my ears and my eyes feel weird and get very tired with blurry vision and hard to keep eyes open . I just wish I knew all this I think me a knowing about it would of made me a different person but I guess my parents and others decided it would be better for me not to know. I have recently and still battling symptoms I’m lost to what to do about fixing it but know I can inform my psychiatrist. And if you all have any opinions or more research on adult SM please inform me.”
I’m a 34-year-old man, who just learned that what I experienced in the early 90s, between the ages of 4 and 9, had a name: Selective Mutism.
My family moved from Brazil to the United States in late 1989, when I was 4 years old. In 1990, I started pre-school, and cried my eyes out when my mom would drop me off. Initially I would cry and yell that I wanted my mom in my native Portuguese, but eventually the crying and yelling faded, and I gradually (I don’t quite remember how gradually) just became silent in the school setting. I was very talkative and normal at home, and in some settings, including with neighborhood friends. But the mutism persisted when I moved on to kindergarten and through the end of 3rd grade, when my family and I moved back to Brazil. I also did not speak in other settings, such as swim practice, tennis lessons, and around specific people.
It was all very confusing and frustrating. I was almost held back in 1st grade, until I agreed to count to 50 in my math teacher’s ear (whispering), proving that I was learning and keeping up like the other students. I remember meetings with my mom and the vice-principle, who was sympathetic and tried to help. The end of each summer was difficult. My mom would have long conversations with me about this being the year I would start talking in school, encouraging me, pleading, making deals etc. But when school started I was not able to talk, and it felt like excruciating failure.
Despite my mutism, I had friends who I communicated with non-verbally, and I enjoyed much of school, swimming, tennis, and most aspects of my childhood. But at age 9, when it was becoming harder and harder to cope with, it was a relief to leave the U.S. and start anew in Brazil. I believe it would have been very hard to overcome the mutism had we stayed in our town. Indeed, we returned to the U.S. relatively frequently for visits, and in the first couple of times I continued not talking. It wasn’t until a few years later, as a teenager, that I mustered the courage to speak to people who had never before heard my voice…
It’s nice to know that this has been studied, and that there are resources out there to understand the condition and help. Just reading the materials available has helped me better understand that part of my life, and even how it affects my life today. Thanks for what you do!