The wonders of the junior year ending have now turned to thoughts of college and his first summer job. He came and told us a few months back that he was going to run for historian. When we asked why, he said that there was a girl who thinks she should be student body president and he did not want to lose and be off student government next year.
My reaction was to say, he should go for it. He won last year as Jr class president, why not try. It was better for him to lose and know he lost, than to just win to be safe. We had come so far, yet I still hold my breath, almost sometimes breathless, at what he attempts and does.
He was not going for it and I was worried. The time for the election drew near, papers needed to be signed, signatures gathered. I kept my positive tone by saying you can do it and it is more that he tries then not try at all.
He decided to go for it… The election was held and he won student body president, and on the path to the vote, he had to speak to the entire school, speak to teachers, speak to the administration, basically state his vision for the school, knowing that he was to represent the school at district meetings, welcome the freshman, lead the student council. However, I also learned that this position comes with the biggest speech of his life….which is at graduation, when he is one of three keynote speakers during graduation. Oh the places he is going, when there were days, years and times, I thought a single word was hope.
He is now going into Senior Year as Student Body President, my selectively mute as a young child turned student leader. Still takes my breath away. Some of the students have been friends of his since the days he could not speak. They sometimes remind him of how far he has come.
I have asked him to add to this blog, since he now knows it exists. He says he has read it and wonders why I would do such a thing. I won’t repeat the word he call it, but at least it’s an expressive word….
He says he will write for the blog and perhaps use what he writes for his college essay on overcoming adversity of having selective mutism as a way of defining himself and helping others.
I think a milestone should be added today to this blog. My son graduated Jr. High, will be a freshman next year and had a 4.0. For a kid who could not put two words together during pre school, this is a milestone.
He talks, he talks too much, he is popular, words that if you had asked me 10 years ago, I would of said how, he never speaks a word to any of his class mates. He has tons of friends today. The selective mutism never came back, but there are still hangovers to those days. He is a perfectionist and it is his way or the highway.
He will be a teacher, lawyer or preacher when he grows up, his word are so spot on. The kids at school call him Dr. >>>>, like Dr. Phil since he can tell them what in their life is not working and get them on the right track. Parents call him the voice of reason. They always know they can go to him to find out what really went on. Words are a big part of his life. He is a very good writer. It comes easily to him. Sometimes I think for all the early struggles, it should be easy. Time will tell.
I still sit in amazement at how far we have come and how many paths we went down. Always fearing every grade that it would re-appear, luckily it did not. How many teacher I had to train on what it was. How many feared it and tried to put him in a ” special class”. How many were annoyed that they would have to have a child with Selective Mutism who turned out to be gifted.
So instead of going down the path they wanted him to go, I had to bully my way up. I mean fight hard for him, fighting with the school administration, talking with state administrators who did not want to fund his alt test. Funding it ourselves and finding out we were right all along.
The point was he was not mute and dumb, he was selectively mute and brilliant. People have to learn the difference. Einstein did not speak until he was 5. That piece of info carried me through many a dark day. Helen Keller was blind deaf and mute, but not stupid. My son did not speak at school, but did at home, so I saw different child then they say everyday.
So my advice and why I wrote this blog was to help others, since I had no road map. Do not give up on your child, Dont’ ever give up, follow your gut, and do what you can do to make it right.
I got a question from a reader that asked: If I recommended group sports for my child who had selective mutism. The answer for my child was Yes. I did enroll him in group sports. Some group sports where better to try than others, for a child with selective mutism. He did not speak at school, so as long as the children that he associated with at school did not participate, he spoke, if they were they were on this team he did not speak. Selective mustim has a strange line of speaking and non speaking. The coach was also part of the equation, a loud coach, he would not talk, a soft spoken coach, he would.
We tried all sorts of sports group and not group, in hopes it it would cause a break through with this speech. It did not, but he liked doing the activity.
Group sports where he was on a team and running in a group worked well. Soccer was our first try. He got lost in the group. Tag football, he loved it. Baseball, not so much. He could not handle the spotlight of him stepping up to the plate and swinging. Basketball was a good choice. He never yelled to get the ball. Lots of arm waving. Swimming not so much, same issue of the starting line focus was too much for him. Running, did not like it, he was fast but could not handle when he lost.
So all in all. See what your child is comfortable with. We started many seasons and did not finish. Others were great and he stayed all season and he grew a lot for having the experience.