My five year old daughter was recently diagnosed with SM. Since she was 2 1/2 she has only spoken to her immediate family, 2 of her aunts, and 3 young cousins. After many months and many, many phone calls we finally found a psychiatrist to work with her. She put her on 10mg of prozac and she seems to be slightly more comfortable around people she knows well. She is nowhere near ready to talk. Unfortunately, the doctor it took me so long to find is suggesting we try to force her to talk now. She has only seen her twice and is recommending we deny her privileges if she won’t ask for them. I know she needs behavioral therapy, but I honestly don’t know where to turn for help.
Well, your instincts are correct. You may have found yourself a prescribing doctor, but you certainly did not find one whom understands SM or the debilitating effects of anxiety. FORCING your child to talk is like adding salt to an open wound. You will cause more distress, heightened anxiety and more avoidance in your child.
The main form of treatment is to help your daughter progress communicatively by moving from nonverbal to verbal…and understanding that her anxiety level will change from setting to setting and person to person. I suggest reading the handout: Understanding SM as a Communication Anxiety Disorder. This is on our member website.
Perhaps you can consider attending the summer retreat. We will have THREE full days of learning about SM and anxiety in our children. Good luck and keep us informed.