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Anxiety and selective mutism

Anxiety and selective mutism

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Anxiety and selective mutism

About four years ago now our daughter was refusing to go to school. She would say that she wasn't feeling well, that she was sick and lots of other reasons. We would allow her to stay home if she wasn't feeling well, as it was unlike her to try and put one on if that makes sense.
Slowly over time she started to flat out refusing to go to school. Unaware that she was being picked on/bullyied at the time as she had not said anything we made her go to school. I even called the school to see if there was any issues, long story short we found out the hard way she was being bullied.i put in a complaint with the school and i was told it wasn't serious and nothing to worry about but it turned out it was very serious and it ended up with me getting a text message from my daughter while she was at school.asking if she could leave otherwiseshe was going to burst into tears infront of the class. Boys in her class were hitting her while she sat at her desk, pushing her into walls, chairs etc. I had to call the front office of the school and send another teacher into the class to break it up. (This is only one incident there were others we were unaware of)

The only way our daughter would go to school was if she was allowed to sit in the office.
Things got so bad that she started self harming and wanted to kill her self. We ended up pulling her out of school completely and tried home schooling but we were encourage not to take that course for her education.

Long story short after a 6 months we finally managed to get her into headspace and a referal to cahms. The bullying has had such effect on her that she was diagnosed with social anxiety and selective mutism.
Been a tough battle but we managed to get her to do a cert2 in animal studies but she couldn't finish the course due to the fact she had to interact with other people and be the team leader. It was too much to ask of her.
But we did manage to get her certificate 2 in Adult education
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Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

However even that was a battle she couldn't cope with other people asking for help or talking to others in general.
She is 18 now but will not leave the house unless family is with her. The idea of going for a job interview scares the hell out of her. Once she turned 18 she decided to stop taking her antidepressants that was prescibed for her anxiety.

The only time she leaves the house with out us is for 1 hour a week for a driving lesson.

I have been told because she is 18 i can not drag her to counciling. She doesn't have to go if she doesn't want to.

But i am at a loss as what to do now. Only peice of advice we got from cahms was " be gentle but firm, make home life uncomfortable for her so she wants to leave"
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Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

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Hi @Alaya thank you for sharing with us and welcome to ReachOut. I'm sorry to hear that your daughter has experienced bullying, that's a terrible situation to have been in. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to support her. Regarding her social anxiety and not wanting to leave the house, would she be open to something like online support as a starting point? eheadspace and Kids Helpline (14-25 years) provide an online web chat or telephone counselling support which she might find useful. I'll also tag some of our other members for further support and advice @Sister @taokat @sunflowermom @Schooner

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Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

Unfortunately we have tried headspace and cahms. Both have said because she will not engaged there is no point in her seeing them.
When she was seeing them she couldn't talk, hence the mutism. She wont talk to any one that she doesn't feel comfortable with. Shes 19 this year and has no friends, she doesn't go out unless it is with family. Getting her to visit the gp is a nightmare. The gp feels uncomfortable talking as if our daughter isn't there when she is in the room. Not really sure what we are going to do. W she loves art but wont explore going to tafe to improve her skills because that means dealing with people
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Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

We have tried online schooling but that made her uncomfortable even tho she wasn't required to actually physically speak.

We have tried things like going away and leaving money for food and such incase she runs out of anything but she waits untill we come home before deciding items need to be restocked.
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Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

@Alaya Wow you have tried so many avenues well done. I can sense so much love and care for her. It must be exhausting at times moving through this process. Have you managed any downtime for yourself?

 

Are there any other clinical avenues you have thought of trying? Services outside of headspace and the GP?

There's also of course some of the alternative therapies such as Kineseology etc. A friend of mine who has a daughter with ASD says Kineseology helps her daughter as it incorporates the mind and the body & requires less dialogue. How are you feeling now about everything? 

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Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

Down time for my self is spending time with a good book. Or going camping when we get the chance. Tomorrow Hubby and I are going to do a little hiking. Our 17 year old is making lemon myrtle cheese cake for mother's day and wants me out of the house for several hours.

I have broached the idea of seeing another therapist and physcolist but she is opposed to that. I have tried getting her interested in all sorts of art things but not interested. She likes computer games and i have encouraged her to learn coding and i have several different art apps installed on the computer for her to use. She loves to use the home design software on Google to design houses. I have encouraged that because I thought maybe one day she might be able to study something along those lines.
She gets on better with animals better than people, well she is more comfortable with animals, dogs are her favorite.

Cahms that as a family we should all volunteer at an animal shelter.
But i would rather not be there if we can convince her to do it. It is going to sound awfully harsh of ne but I feel if we are there then she will have us yo fall back on instead of taking a step forwards. I feel as if she needs to realize Mum and Dad can not always be there to help when things get scary / hard and that sometimes every one needs to face what unsettles us to see that it isnt really as bad as we might think if that makes sense.

I am not sure if we would be able to get her to agree to visiting a Kineseology clinic.

Recently she has started growing hair on her face i can't even get her to agree to a visit to the beautician. Its as if she doesn't want any one to look at her. She wont go swimming unless she is covered from neck to ankle.
I have managed to get all her hormones tested and everything is normal. Even her thyroid. Her heart races and blood pressure goes through the roof when visiting places like cahms or the gp.

Unlike many other parents who complain about not knowing where their child is. I know exactly where mine is 24/7 365 days of the year. She doesnt drink, smoke ,swear , she is never late home she has never been in trouble for anything. She is always at home in her room or playing with her dog Barry. We got him because we figured it might bring her out of her shell a little and encourage her to continue her certificate 2 in animal studies. While she loves barry and he is there to keep her company he hasn't inspired her to keep going with her studies.
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Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

Hello @Alaya

I am sorry you and your family are going through this. This has to be such a difficult time for all of you.  When reading this I heard a few really positive things from you.  I love that your daughter has a Barry as a support animal.  I can relate because my daughter also has a dog that she relies on for emotional support.  There have been times that she has told me her dog is her only reason for living.  So I realize our kids having pets is  more comforting than we realize.  I also loved that you try to get away a little bit, short camping trips, hikes.  I know that getting time out away from my daughter has refueled me to keep going through these tough times. I understand what you mean about your daughter volunteering and the suggestion you being there as a family.  It must be frustrating to feel you always have to be there.  I know when my daughter did some volunteer work at a food bank she was too scared to do it alone so I also did it.  But after the first couple times since she knew the layout she was ok by herself.  I did have to explain to the supervisor her social anxiety and he gave her tasks with that in mind. 

I know we don't have all the answers here but its nice to not feel alone during this stressful time.

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Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

Sunflower she has managed to do 40 hours of volunteering at Native Arc , a native wildlife rescue shelter but that was while she was studying her cert 2 in animals studies.
However there was a misunderstanding with her Lecturer and it made her doubt her self even more I guess.

As much as it seem I am whining and whinging i am actually very proud of how far she has come. I guess I'm just fustrated and worried about what might happen to her if she doesn't develop friends or take a step outside into the big wide world.
Parent Community Champion

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

hi @Alaya

You don't sound like your whining at all and I totally get you being nervous about the future, I get that way too. Sometimes I need to remember to focus on the present and not worry so much about the future. It sounds like you have an amazing daughter who loves animals very much and may have found her calling.  She has already  accomplished so much and you must remind her of that when she starts doubting herself.

Hugs to you today and Happy Mothers day!