Thursday, February 17, 2011

The smaller things can be so significant

Well, we are now in February. Things are going along quite nicely it was only 5 weeks ago when Josiah wasn't speaking at all. So school has been going well as far as we can tell. I love it that he comes home with new words and more language each day. We have had a big of a bonus day today I felt quite pleased with my son's progress in so many areas:
  • At the audiologist appointment we attended first of all his hearing is much better from what I can tell. Second of all the audiologist commented that this is the most that he has spoken in any appointment I have been seeing the same audiologist since he was 12mo, he is now 4. He is not speaking to hear per-say but in her presence very much so.
  • Josiah had his fourth speech therapy session today, in which with a lot of gentle prodding from the speech therapist he is talking a lot more. What I have noticed that works is to start off with no pressure to speak obviously, then work with structured activities and it is amazing what happens. I feel that within structure socially he knows what to do this makes him less anxious. He has made so much progress just by speaking full sentences and now mostly at a normal volume.
  • For the first real time I remember he told a full story from beginning to end. He struggles to say what has happened in the day, events and so forth. But at school he come up to me and told me the story about the gingerbread man and what they did.
  • Then in the shops today he even responded to the Cashier in the shop with a full sentence, I nearly passed out I swear!
  • Tonight at dinner he spoke a full sentence to a close friend of mine, this is the first time he has spoken to her and she has known him from when he was born, just amazing.
So at the end of a long day I sit here a very happy Mum, there is always hope and your children are always capable of more than we know and I know that God is answering my prayers one by one!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant

Fear mastered me. It dictated my movements and responses in any given situation. Fear has disguised itself as what I could not do, did not have, and did not have time to do, and as what others would not let me do. I have disguised fear as the need to be somewhere else, doing something else, not knowing how to do something, and not needing to do something. I set a table in my life for fear to become a gluttonous and insatiable master.
This quote stirs something within me, how many times do we hold back, because of fear. This is a struggle for adults, teens and children. Anxiety can also be described as fear. Our journey is to realign our children to be in a position where they can master their master. Not an easy task, but you must agree a necessary one.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My first webinar on Selective Mutism

So today after getting posted a sign up sheet from a fellow SM Mum from the yahoo group Selective Mutism Support Group I signed in and have just attended the webinar. I found Dr Chu very interesting and knowledgeable on the subject of Selective Mutism. He gave practical information for all group such as parents, children, therapists and school professionals. What I enjoyed the most was the following:
  1. Information on the hierarchy and how it would work in real life, there is a step ladder approach to dealing with anxiety and he illustrated an example of a child buying icecream how as parents we can accommodate the anxiety in a negative way thus robbing the child of opportunities to learn to master his anxiety.
  2. Practical steps as a parent how to deal with our participation and role in assisting our children the empathize and encourage step was really interesting and simplified we need to first of all empathize show our child that we know they find it hard to ......... but then move onto encouragement where we then progress to saying I know you can do this. And then encouraging them to take the step to overcome.
  3. Great insight on understanding that my child who is 4.5 (I asked a question) and it was explained that I should not expect him to be capable of insight of his critical thinking such as I can't won't etc.... that links to his SM but give him practical ways for him to gain confidence so that these thoughts no longer dominate his thinking. This was very helpful for me.
  4. The idea that if the child escapes from overcoming his anxiety, then he will not be provided a natural opportunity for his body to overcome this anxiety, as the exposure to the anxiety increases so this then lessens the effect on the person. Practical and insightful!
So for my first webinar I actually learnt a lot, it felt like I was this sponge listening to everything they had to say and the questions that were asked. Please feel comfortable to go to the website and download the webinar and listen for yourself check out the questions that are being asked as this will be answered during the week.

Here are the links you will need, the webinar was hosted I know it sounds random but the New Jersey Center for Tourette Sydrome, the webinar link is for Selective Mutism: Coordinated Behavioural Approaches for Therapists, Parents, and Schools. Once on the website you can download the power point slides (which are very helpful) and participate in chat with Dr Chu.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nurture vs. Rescue

When we look within what do we see? The challenge of parenting is to know the line between nurture, one would encourage development rescue discourages development and growth and allows my son to stay where he is. In understanding I look at the definitions of nurture and rescue:

Nurture: to feed, care for. Synonyms: back, bolster, bring up, cherish, cultivate, develop, discipline, educate, foster, instruct, nourish, nurse. Antonyms: Deprive, ignore, neglect starve.

Rescue: save from danger, Synonyms: bail one out, conserve, deliver, dis-embarrass, disentangle, emancipate, extricate, free, get out, get out of hock, give a break, hold over, keep, liberate, manumit, preserve, protect, pull out of the fire, ransom, recapture, recover, redeem, regain, release, retain, retrieve, safeguard, salvage, save life of, set free, spring, unleash, unloose. Antonyms: harm, hurt, imperil, injure.

As parents how do we contribute to our children's anxiety. Social pressure can make us react in strange ways. Each time someone talks to my son there is a lot that goes on in my mind "how will they react when he doesn't talk back, will they judge me or think the is being rude, will they wait too long for him to respond, when should I respond, should I do anything." My son needs to overcome Selective Mutism and there are things that I do that can rob him of the opportunity to overcome his fear.

Therein lies a choice the easy path is to continue to rescue when my son feels uncomfortable. Or I can take the hard path examine myself, observe my son and allow him to learn how to overcome his fears, the hard part is I can't control those around me, explain the rules to everyone:) but he needs to opportunities to overcome. I don't want to be part of my son's defeat.

On the other hand I deal with pushing my child to communicate again, all throughout the day I know I need to encourage him to use his verbal communication not non verbal this is extremely difficult some days. One day I remember my son having a 20-30 minute tantrum yelling at me because I wouldn't give him his drink he wasn't saying please non verbally or verbally. This is a problem that we deal with and his behaviour can be trying, I know that if I wasn't nurturing my son I would just give in straight away to his tantrums, but I don't. Regardless of his communication style being rude, demanding and anger are not rewarded.

The true role of a mother is to nurture some of us have been taught the opposite in rescuing and parents of children with Selective Mutism can all relate to the pressure especially socially to respond to situations with a rescuing mentality, because some people don't understand the dynamics of SM and some realistically should not be expected to know. So what have I concluded my desire is to nurture but I know that I might fail and enable and rescue my child. But what I can do is provide situations when I know he is safe for him to practice social skills and to allow him to feel uncomfortable in these moments.

“Selective Mutism: Coordinated Behavioral Approaches for Therapists, Parents, and Schools”

For those who are starved for more information. Tomorrow there will be a free webinar on Selective Mutism run by the NJ Center for Tourette's Syndrome and Other Disorders. Looks very interesting the time posted is US Time you can convert to your area in google. If you are not able to watch it at the time listed you can download it afterwards and watch at your own convenience.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's the little things that give us hope

Over the last summer life has been stressful to say the least. Basically I spent 6 weeks where Josiah stopped talking at all and only in the last few weeks has he come out of it and started speaking to me normally again. I realize now that hey I do know a thing or too and my approach to everything did work even if it hasn't worked as fast as I would like. At a doctors visit the doctor commented that Josiah had improved a lot since she last saw him and this was down to my parenting and encouragement. So we are onto the next steps in most areas.

Last week was the start of Pre-Primary, a big deal for me as Mum. This means that Josiah will be at school for five full days a week. Honestly after everything that happened I really did not know how he would cope with school. So after taking him to school I forgot his bag and realized I wasn't as organised as I thought hehe. As they sitting down for mat time, the teacher asked him where he would like to sit and he was able to point for the teacher, man did that make me feel better. So I come to pick him up and looked at him through the window, Josiah saw me and instantly started to gesture with large hand motions snap snap (regular fixture in our home) and he pointed wildly to the corner of the room. This made me laugh apparently there is a axolotil in his classroom and he thinks it is totally cool.

So in terms of support for him, the school he attends a private one has a theme this year on care and support. They have set up some programs to help those who are struggling and to give some extra support when needed. They have three staff to work on this area, this is a great relief to me. As well as this I had my first chat with the teacher and we are going to set some things up soon and Josiah might have a similar program to last year where Josiah had some one on one play time with the teacher after class. What is next is the parent interview where most of this will be set up. All this gives me some hope, Josiah is in a good place the teachers are willing to understand and learn (the teacher had already read the information she was given) and there is more support for him this year. I keep praying that 2011 will be the year of progress for Josiah.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The feelings that sometimes consume and distract me

So today we had an appointment with a Psychologist, the appointment went well for my son or so I thought. The Psychologist afterwards spoke to me and discussed how she believed I was overcompensating and basically took over the session. This hit me like a brick, was what she said true or is it just another opinion? I am still reeling from what was said, in reflection these are the things I have concluded:
  1. Being a parent to a child with Selective Mutism means that as a parent you can feel anxious because you worry about every time your child gets spoken to, can he respond, what will they think, do I need to do something, say something. Where is the line between encouraging your child to grow and keeping them safe.
  2. I thought I believed that my son having Selective Mutism did not have any reflection on my identity as a parent, but knowing and believing are two different things. There are times where I want my son to be seen as normal and not needing help but the fact remains he does.
  3. Helping the child also means empowering the parent, not disempowering the parent.
  4. That I wish people could see Josiah when he is free from fear and able to speak, how he plays his loudness, his talking, chatting endlessly. But who they see is not the same Josiah I know.
  5. That trusting people to help your son, is very scary
Where to from here, some time soon I need someone to help me work out the dynamics of being a parent to a child with Selective Mutism, as well as I wish there was a support group or even to meet another parent of a child with Selective Mutism would be so helpful about now. I think that I need to take some action in this area and start to advertise or something to get one operating.