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Some of you might know that October is selective muism awareness month in the USA. Although it’s not offically an awareness month in the UK or other countries I’ll be joining in to make a special effort to raise awareness.
Before I started up this magazine and blog I never talked about SM so this has given me a chance to tell more people about it. These last few months I must have talked more about SM than I have in the 26 years before! I’ve started sending the link to the magazine to friends and family and I’m hoping to tell people I work with too.
Over on the SM Space Cafe Facebook group there will be a cover picture for the awareness month that you can use as your Facebook profile cover photo. It will be put up on Tuesday/Wednesday this week so go and have a look if you’d like to join in – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1462678917293033/
Let me know what you’re doing to raise awareness and I will put some in the next issue of the magazine out at the end of November.
If you’re interested in writing a bit for the SM in school article please could send it over by the end of next week so I can get it all together? Here’s my take on it but it would be great if you could send in yours – more details are on the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/697498353673778/
What it was like having SM in school
Having selective mutism at school was difficult. Secondary school is where it hit hard – going from a tiny primary school to a secondary school with a LOT more people around was a little overwhelming. When we first started we had to line up and be taken to our classes and one day I got lost in the crowd and ended up in a different class!
The bad bits
I felt left out and isolated a lot of the time. Although I had my little friendship group I couldn’t talk to them ‘normally’. Of course there were those who would make fun of me because I was different but I could cope with that (most of the time); it was the unintentional being left out that hurt most. I would be forgotten and just left to the side while the others chatted amongst themselves.
The good bits
Being quiet meant that I tended to be in the teacher’s good books. Although I wasn’t treated any differently (I’d still get detentions for not having my shirt tucked in) I think I got off lighter than some of the more outspoken pupils. It also helped with my work; as I wasn’t busy talking I got on with my work and got good grades.
What didn’t help
All the “why don’t you talk” questions and jokes. Being treated differently; at primary school I was taken out of class to go and play cards with another girl but it wasn’t really explained to me why it was happening. I was kind of in denial about not talking being a problem; I just wanted everything to be normal but didn’t know how. I wish I’d talked more about how I felt when I was younger.
I started writing letters to my mum which was easier than talking face to face. I’m so grateful for the little group of friends I had. We had the same sense of humour; humour can get you through a lot. In the last couple of years of sixth form I started walking to and from school as I only lived a few miles away. Having that time alone on the way back from school helped me keep calm. I was lucky enough to go on the school trips abroad where we did activities like canoeing and rock climbing. It was fun and it felt good to be around others and not feel constantly nervous. Rather embarrassingly, I made up for not talking by snoring loudly on the coach on the way back.