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Anxiety and selective mutism

Anxiety and selective mutism

Parent Community Champion

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

@Alaya that's totally understandable that you're worried about her future - but as you say it sounds like she is making amazing progress, and that you are being incredibly supportive - what a lovely idea to get her the dog. 

Does Barry help her to get out of the house for walks? Sometimes dogs can also be helpful to ease "awkwardness" in social situations. 


It absolutely doesn't sound like you're whining - it's a slow and challenging journey that you and your daughter are on, but it really does sound like with small steps, your daughter can work towards some bigger goals. 

Frequent scribe

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

She loves dogs more than anything. Unfortunately depending on your view, the dog she picked from the from the dog shelter also suffers from anxiety and is reactive around other dogs, so we can not allow her to walk him alone. There was also an indecent while we were walking Barry when out of nowhere another dog came bounding around the corner and attacked Barry who was at the time quite happy sniffing a lamp post. That has made her wary about taking him out as she worries about him being attacked again.

I have encouraged her to volunteer at the shelter but she refuses and the last time she did anything like that was 2 years ago.

I tell her all the time how funny and smart she is. I also tell her that she is beautiful inside and out.

Unfortunately she had a fight with her older brother the other night. Not sure exactly what was said but i got a text message saying

" I don't see why I should be here if all I am is an inconvenience"

I told her that she wasn't and never has been an inconvenience and she shouldn't think like that. I have been keeping an eye on her because of self harm in the past.

I managed to convince her to leave the house today. Got her hair cut, she wouldn't talk to the hairdresser . But i did manage to convince her to order her own subway for lunch. Its a small win but i will take what i can get.
Parent Community Champion

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

I think it's a big win! Getting out when she feels like she can is so great! For us interaction in the outside world might just be an hour a day, like going to the store or to the gym together. I'm sorry to hear about the struggle she has with her brother. Siblings just don't always get it. They know the right thing to say to really hurt the vulnerable ones. Plus I think there is jealousy that we are giving more attention to the child that needs it the most. At least that happens in my house. It's a constant struggle to share my attention, affection and worn out self.

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

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Have you heard of the SMart Center? (Selective Mutism, Anxiety, and Related disorders Treatment Center) They deal with and treat people with selective mutism from all over the world. They would be happy to see your daughter, even though she can’t speak to them. Here’s their website -
Frequent scribe

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

Our Daughter will be 20 in July. Since going to Cahms when she was first diagnosed when she was 15 going on 16 .cahms put her on medication to help with her anxiety, we were told to do things such as take her to the local shopping centre and leave her alone for 5 minutes then 10 minutes increasing the length each time. We were told to try to get her to order her own meals. However because she wouldn't talk with the therapist and the psychologist they basicly said that she didn't have to be there if she didn't want to be. (Which was very helpful.. not) we did get a second referal to see cahms again after there was a miss understanding/miss communication with her animal studies teacher at tafe. Once again cahms was very helpful in saying that she didn't have to be there if she didn't want to be, she has great family support and try to get her to volunteer at say a dog shelter. She never went back to finish her course.(We keep encouraging her, but she can not handle front of house stuff nor deal with humans on the other end of leashes of dogs)
She however since turning 18 decided the pills were not working for her. Stopped taking her medication; will not leave the house on her own.
My husband and I have done things such as leaving her enough money to pay for bills and go shopping while we have traveled from Perth to Ayres Rock and Adelaide. Hoping that while we were gone she would try to venture out and do her own thing with out us.
However unless a family member is with her, she will not venture out even to buy her self something.

She refuses to see her doctor or even think about going back to school. We encourage her as much as we can but nothing has worked. These days we would have to get her to agree to seek out help and it is at this point in time very unlikely.
I guess all we can do is keep trying, keep pushing, keep hoping that one day she might decide to get help.
Frequent scribe

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

I will get her to look at the site and see if it is something that might work for her.
Thank you for the suggestion.
We have also managed to get her to go for driving lessons with an female instructor for 1 hour a week. It was a big step for her. But her first p plate exam her anxiety got the better of her and she failed. We managed with a little convincing to get her to try a second time but once again the little monster got the better of her. We are trying for a 3rd time but she is digging her heels in believing that she can't do it. She drives perfectly with us and her brilliant instructor but gets anxious with the examiner.
Prolific scribe

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

Thank you for sharing that resource @Silentbutterfly! Welcome to the forums! Smiley Happy



Hey there @Alaya and welcome back to the forums! Smiley Happy

It sounds like you care a lot about your daughter, it is wonderful that she has a wonderful support like you in her life Smiley Happy

Some things that can be helpful for driving exams is for the instructor to treat lessons like the exam. My brother took the exam at least five times before he passed. Perhaps it might be helpful for you to find people who can share their own stories about driving exams to help ease her anxiety about the situation? What do you think?


I hope things have been going okay this week, we're here to listen Smiley Happy



Frequent scribe

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

We have tried that. Even told her stories about how her uncle tried 12 times before he finally passed. It hasn't helped. Her instructor once she felt our daughter was ready started treating each lesson as an exam/test. Her instructor has given her free lessons , told her stories about how many times some of her students take to get their p plates. Watched the learner driver shows that were on t.v so she could see that she isn't the only one who had issues.
We encourage her as much as we can. We try to get her to expand her interest away from the house. For example she likes to cook so her aunt ordered a Batch of mushroom and bacon arachini balls for her to take to a work function. After paying for the ingredients and her time she made a profit of $40. But it didn't entice her to try cooking classes. We have also made suggestions about making pet treats that she could sell to family and friends. The idea being that maybe she might realize how nice it is to have her own money to buy things she might like and not wait for mum and Dad to maybe buy her something.
But that idea didn't pan out.
Frequent scribe

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

This week has been quiet aside from us trying to convince her to see a dermatologist. Which she is refusing. She has this issue of not wanting people to look at her. At least that is how it seems to us.

Our son keeps telling us we are to too soft on her and we shouldn't listen to the therapist and the psychologist. So we are getting it from him who can not see all the different things we are trying.

Our youngest who is 18, just finished her certificate 2 in salon assistant. But she is not sure she wants to be a hair dresser now.
She is worried about trying to make small talk with her clients. With the completion of her tafe course she now holds cert 2 in hospitality, cert 3 in music.
She doesn't want to work as a waitress as she is worried about similar things as to her concerns with hair dressing. It also didn't help when she took part in the state skill share competition she spilt a drink on one of the her customers. She did however get top marks for being the only person to enquire about allgeries and make sure no one was served anything they were allergic too.

She is about to start a university bridging course in July as she wants to try her hand at game design and coding. We have encouraged her by buying coding books and a online coding course that teaches her the basics at her own pace.
We have encouraged our older daughter to watch in the hopes maybe she might find something that might work for her.

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

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Hi @Alaya, thanks for sharing that with us. I can tell how creative and resourceful you are as a parent! You have tried a lot of strategies to motivate and encourage your daughter. It seems like you have really done all you can to ensure that your family is well supported. No easy task by any means and quite stressful. What you wrote earlier about 'keep trying, keep pushing, keep hoping' is very valuable. It sounds like you have made progress throughout your efforts. All you can do is be there for her and to support her. Do you think she would use a web chat service or the ReachOut Youth forums? It may be less daunting and confrontational for her as it is anonymous and online. It may help just to let her know that these services are available if she ever wants to use them.


How do your younger daughter and middle daughter get along? It sounds like she has a wide scope of interests which is great. She has many avenues to explore to find her groove and you are very supportive as parents. Would she find practicing small talk helpful? Adolescence often find small talk daunting, so she is definitely not alone. I personally felt that way until I started working then I realised it is not so bad. Of course, anxiety can further complicate this and it is not so simple/easy for some. Throughout all of this, how do you look after yourself? It must be difficult and tiring to bear all of this. Please keep us updated and best of luck Heart

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