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Anxiety and selective mutism

Discussion forum for parents in Australia

Frequent scribe

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

@Taylor-RO Unfortunately she won't even use online chat text or via a headset. We ran into this issue when we tried home schooling via online classes. All she had to do was either talk or push a button to show she acknowledged instructions. We have even tried social side of gaming but she won't partake in that either. She will play games but will not talk to any one that she doesn't know. She wont even talk to some family members if she hasnt seen them in a while. We are trying very hard to be supportive and understanding.


Our daughters get on quite well together. If the older one wants to go to the shop she will talk the younger one into going with her. It usually ends up with our youngest interacting with the the person at the check out or they both will use self service if they feel it's easier. If the younger one doesn't want to go then no one  goes.


We have given Daughter 2 ideas on small talk and we  try to encourage her as much as we can. She and I are in the middle of doing  a cosplay for supanova next weekend. She wants to go  as Dabi from the Anime My hero academia. D2 likes villains she likes the psychology behind them, as in she is interested in what  makes them the way they are. she did think about  studying psychology but she doesn't want to practice it. She does have a wide and varying range of interest and doesn't like to feel as if she is  stuck in a box


Right now aside from dealing with the social anxiety and selective mutism, Hubby and I are dealing with his brother who suffers from borderline autism or these days Asperger's. He is diabetic and last year he had to have part of his left foot amputated. During recovery he put most of his weight on the other foot which now has an ulcer that as developed gang green and we are waiting to find out when that part of the affected  right foot will be removed. On top of that the moon boot he was wearing to help distribute his weight  was rubbing against his leg which took some of the skin off. 


Last Monday my cousin suddenly died from a heart attack while he was in hospital. At the same time his father has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. Which we know is no walk in the park.I'm not sure how my aunt who is slowly going blind is going deal with things. Their daughter is taking the lost of her brother very hard ,the news about her father won't be helping either. 


My husband's uncle has this also (he is level2). He likes to do odd things such as sleep with a ladder in his bedroom just incase the neighbors are climbing on the roof to smash his tiles(it isnt happening) or he has become very paranoid believing  that there are people out there trying to poison his  vegie patch or his  grass. When we find the time we take him on day trips to give his aunt a break.


My other aunt has emphysema, it is hard for her to breathe. She gets tried quickly. Unfortunately hubby and I have gone through this before as we watched his mum die from it. However she is on her way to visit my uncle who just lost his son. It must be horrible for her with her own mortality looming.


As for looking after my self, I read or play the odd game of world of Warcraft. Some times we have a family gaming night were we take turns in trying to figure out puzzles in a video game or we watch movies at home together. We play board games.


If we find time between work, uncles ,brothers and such we go camping just hubby and I. we leave the girls at home with money to cover everything they might need while we are away. However we have had moments where we are halfway to Onslow but get a phone call asking us to bring milk or bread home. We can laugh about it now but it gets a little frustrating.  Some times  we just go  hiking  in the local bush land as hubby is also  diabetic and we have found it a great way to help control his  sugars. we are also doing  the 5:2 diet on which I have lost about 30 kgs and hubby has lost 20, his  blood glucose as stabilized and he no longer has to test himself every day.


We are trying our best. Which is all any one can do I guess.


The therapist and the psychologist told us to make home uncomfortable for our daughter who suffers from anxiety and selective mutism as in make it so she wants to leave but we are uncomfortable with that. Home should be a safe place where you can just be. ( more then likely comes from my very horrible abusive childhood) we make her do most of the chores before she is allowed to do other things.( that is not to say we  allow the others to get away with not helping . if they live at home they must help in some way be it around the house or the yard or with bills. We as parents can not be expected even tho we are supportive to  do every thing ) She would much rather do that then go out. 20 in July  and she has no friends her own age. we have suggested support groups but she  just dismisses the idea 


Super contributor

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

Hi @Alaya, thanks for responding. That is great that your daughters get on well together. Your second daughter has identified what interests her but it sounds like she is trying to figure out how to express it. It is great that she has a place to start - that can be the most difficult part of being a teenager sometimes Smiley Happy You have a lot going on with your family, your plate is certainly full! I am sorry to read about all these challenges that your family has faced. It must be so difficult to manage all of these health issues alongside your struggles with your daughters. So that being said, it is amazing to hear that you have some ways of winding down and enjoying yourself. It is so important to look after yourself especially when times are challenging, tiring and stressful. So well done!

It is a really difficult and complex situation.. perhaps you could seek a second opinion on the issue, if you haven't already? I do understand about home being a place of peace and comfort.. which is really important. It does sound scary and I can understand that you don't want to feel like you are causing discomfort or distress to your daughters. The other perspective is that going outside our comfort zone is uncomfortable.. and so if we have the choice, we would prefer to stay with the safe and the 'known'. Changing or growing can definitely be uncomfortable at times but you could discuss what level of discomfort is appropriate with the health professionals. Did they have any ideas on what making it uncomfortable would look like? I can tell that you have come up with a whole lot of strategies - it honestly sounds like you have thought of everything. It is really heart-warming to see how much effort you go to. You can absolutely tell that you love and care about your daughters so very much Heart

Frequent scribe

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

Other then giving her chores not really. We get D1 to do things like clean the bathrooms ,toilets, hang out the the washing, help with the dishes. She preps her own meals. Picks up after the dog. Mow the lawns.
Her older brother likes to try to get her to clean his room and do his washing. We do not buy her anything unless she actually had done everything ask of her and done things with out being asked. She very rarely asks for anything unless it is ingredients for a meal which we push her to buy with out us talking to the person at the check out. There is no t.v in her room. She has no laptop.

If you can give me some constructive ideas about how to make her uncomfortable at home. So that she feels more comfortable with teachers who she has lost trust in so she will feel more comfortable back at school that would be great. But I'm not sure how much more we can do. I did actually think about taking her bedroom door off at point but I was worried about going to far.
I would love to get a second opinion but how do I get an almost 20 year old to agree to visit a psychologist? Especially when she has been told repeatedly that she doesn't have to be here if she doesn't want to. Only take your pills until you feel you have got the best out of them?

We actually have 3 daughters and 1 son. Our eldest is 29 this year and our youngest just turned 18. Out of the 4 ,three still live at home. The therapist told us if it was down to our parenting style then all 4 children would have issues. But all this ,the self harming ,the not talking the not wanting to leave the house stems from the bullying at school and online. Being called horrid names having rumors spread about her taking naked photos and sending them to the boys in school at the time. (Didnt happen as i had access to all her social media accounts) Having boys talk about her and sending her rude,crude photos. How do i restore her faith in teachers when they didn't help /see while she was getting punched in class and she had to send me a text message for help?

We have managed to get her to out of the house today. She was busy helping her sister with cosplay material collecting. She didn't talk to any one aside from getting her to order a doughnut. We are actually up at the hospital visiting her uncle tonight who recently had part of his foot amputated. She is just sitting quietly listening and watching. She did managed to order an iced coffee from the lady at Jamaica blue. She did get sweaty and her face was all flushed and her voice was soft but I'll take it as a win.
Frequent scribe

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

I've just re read my reply and I'm very sorry if I came across a bit rude. That is not my intention.
I do have a lot of issues going on family wise.

I'm really not sure about how to make out daughter any more uncomfortable then we all ready are.
My issue with this comes from my own childhood which was very violent and home wasn't always a safe place. I try very hard not to repeat the cycle.
Star contributor

Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

Hi @Alaya ,

No worries at all about your response, I'm glad you are talking about this and asking for support. It really sounds like a lot that you are juggling. Giving her chores sounds like a really great thing for her, especially in helping her become more independent. I can imagine it would also give her a sense of responsibility and confidence in her ability to function independently. Challenging her to go to the check out by herself sounds like a really good idea. How does she usually cope with that? Does she find it gets easier the more she tries it? Exposure is so incredibly important!


It might be a good idea to speak directly to the therapist about how exactly they would suggest you make the home more 'uncomfortable' so you have a better idea of what that would look like. Your right, home should always be safe, but perhaps there are small ways you could create more challenges at home that could help her overall that the therapist was thinking of. 


Bullying online and at school is difficult, it must be  painful for you seeing her go through that and knowing how much it impacts her. I'm sorry the teachers have not been helpful, have you taken it to the principal? It sounds quite severe. Sending unwanted explicit images online is actually illegal as its a form of sexual assault so I hope they take you seriously. 


Getting out of the house with her sister and ordering a doughnut/ coffee are all little victories! It sounds like getting out the house is easier when shes distracted and focused on something shes really interested in? 

Again, it sounds like you have really been trying hard to find a balance between challenging and supporting her and it sounds like you are a really loving parent. It would have been awful hearing that from the therapist about your parenting style, especially given the amount of effort, care and creativity you have put into her recovery. 



Re: Anxiety and selective mutism

@Alaya I can relate I am a mother of a 14 yr old girl who has been diagnosed with Selective Mutism, Agoraphobia and Generalized Anxiety disorder. In fifth grade she was bullied and much like your story, It started with wanting to come home early and feeling ill and then straight up school refusal. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that she could have had an anxiety disorder and the bullying was a catalyst that made matters worse. It was impossible to get her back into school even with transferring her to anew school because the trauma of the bullying not only by a student but also by a teacher was too much for her to handle. Took 6-8 months to get a therapist and put her on medication. She spent two and half years not talking to this therapist and the medication dosages were increased. Until I realized that she was becoming depressed and having suicidal thoughts from the medication. Stopped all medication. Changed therapists. Now she is definitely talking about everything to her therapist and is off meds. She was homeschooled for these last three years. At first she would not even go out for an hour anywhere. Slowly she has increased and is able to go out and be with us and travel. However speaking with anyone else is very rare unless a one word answer. There’s lots of progress in this last year and she will not start going to school again for high school. I’m hopeful that progress will continue. But it has been a long and emotional road.