Monday, September 2, 2013

Selective Mutism

Someone recently asked me about selective mutism, so I thought I'd answer here. First of all, it's not really "selective" as that seems to imply that I chose not to speak. It was more like I couldn't speak in certain places that exacerbated my social anxiety . For a large part of my childhood and adolescence , I did not speak in school, or pretty much anywhere outside of my parent's house and with a few people who I knew well enough. School was an extremely difficult environment for me. It was a sensory nightmare and I often got headaches from the lights and would become physically ill because I was constantly on edge. Most other parents thought I was a brat and didn't like their kids to play with me. Many of my teachers threw around the "R" word, or just called me lazy, spoiled and selfish. I was actually assigned to do a report on why being shy was actually very selfish by one of my teachers. Except I wasn't just "shy", I was autistic, but undiagnosed for many years. Because back then, most people only knew autism from movies like "Rain Man" *insert eyeroll* (quick side note, the man who that movie is based on, Kim Peek, was not actually autistic. He had FG Syndrome). Anyway, as I matured, I was able to find ways to adapt so that my anxiety was not so overwhelming. By the time I graduated from high school, I had managed to make some friends and channel my anxiety into other areas so that I wasn't constantly melting down. For the most part, I can talk now in most social situations, though sometimes, I still find myself shutting down. A lot of it has to do more now with fearing that I will say the wrong thing, or that I will have an inappropriate response to what other people are saying. I've always been "quiet". I will probably never be a social butterfly. I think that at 37, it's safe to operate under that assumption. The absolute worst thing you can do when I'm being quiet is to make a big deal about how I'm being quiet. If I'm not having a good time, I can let you know. I will probably just leave. I don't feel like it's necessary for me to talk all the time. It's fine for other people, but I prefer to observe mostly. I do have stuff to say, and I will say it when I am ready, but please don't act like I'm just being an asshole. I'm not. I'm doing the best I can. For those of you who do know me well, you know that I do talk, and I talk a lot sometimes. That's because you are the people I can be myself around and I don't feel anxious or judged around you. Thanks for that! So, that's what I want to say about selective mutism.

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