Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Note from Offspring #1

Many of you have asked about Offspring #1, and that you miss the sound of a swarm of bees buzzing in your head. For those of you who haven't met Offspring, she is a lovely teenager from England -- which she calls Ingerland -- who wrote us about a year ago. The moment we opened her letter, we immediately realized that she is exactly what would happen if Kate and Lydia were able to have their own child. Later, she wrote us this letter, which was the literary equivalent of taking some awesome drugs left over from Haight-Ashbury, and then we e-mailed her, which is like mainlining rabid bees...and finally, received this awesome letter, because so many of you were asking, "Wait! We want to know about the Badger..." And then it takes us about two weeks for the buzzy-buzzy-ness to leave our brains...

We hadn't heard from Offspring in a while, and we started to get worried...

And, then we got this letter. Three things about this: One, it's long and still super buzzy, so prepare yourself. Two, it's a little sad; so while it's still Offspring, it's a different version of her. Three, after we read this, we wanted to hop on a plane and go over the pond so we could hug Offspring and make her tea and knit her some slippers. Please feel free to send her big hugs in the comments section...

xoxo Kate and Lydia

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Just a note. A huge one. That involves stuff that is not funny and you do not have to post ever or at all. You don't have to post this. It is not exactly lighthearted.

I've been meaning to write to you about this for a while (because I think it's important, you have a lot of readers and you're awesome) but... well, it's not funny. So I've been a bit... well, the brain gerbils went on strike every time I tried to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard or note to flaming arrow. (well, if it's called the pond it can't be THAT big, really. Besides, ducks are awesome! I'm sure duckmail will catch on. More awesome and quacky than email, and probably faster (and cheaper, dammit) than using 'conventional' systems that involve planes and whatnot. Ooh! Did you know all the royal mail planes are red? Isn't that awesome? I bet it's so birds will see it and help pull the plane along like a turbo boost or something. That's how they do their priority mail anyway. Isn't it weird that in Americaland you have the postal service and get mail, and here we have the royal mail and get post? I think that's funny, and I bet it's because ACTUALLY we swap systems. So all the Ingerland post goes to Americaland for the POSTAL service, and all the Americaland mail comes here for the royal MAIL. It would also explain exactly why your post cards always arrive after you do. And why every time you get all excited because amazon have dispatched something you really really want (such as my latest book about knitting without wool) (I'm allergic to wool. Or maybe the lanolin in the wool., Or maybe it's one of my arsenal of skin issues, either way the outcome is the same: I touch wool, I itch for weeks. Which sucks because I am into knitting in a big way and everyone's all NATURAL FIBERS WOO and I can't USE most of them. What's weird is I picked up the softest merino wool in a shop the other day by accident (OK, no, I was checking to see if soft wool would not make me want to de-skin myself) and while I could feel it being the softest thing on earth, I could also feel it like little pinpricks of acid at the same time. Which is weird.)

...anyway.

What I wanted to email you about is not my various skin issues. It was the mental issues. Which are kinda unfunny and awkward and nobody likes to talk about (or at least they don't here, in Ingerland. But then we don't talk about a lot of things. I watched DIY SOS the other day and when these people saw their house (which had basically been rebuilt and extended and generally made fabulous) they were just staring in awe and saying things like "I can't believe... it's so... the mould has completely gone...") And then I watched some of the extreme home makeover thing where they essentially did the same thing, only without the 'Holy Maude we have exactly three plasterers and we need to get this done YESTERDAY so we can paint and put up wallpaper and make it look non-buildingsitey'" and telling Billy off for breaking all the electrics for the eleventieth time. These are all staples of DIY SOS. And there was so much screaming in the one that wasn't DIY SOS it was incredible! I love to see all this different joy going on. Happy people are awesome. And it cracked me up at just how different everything was, not cos anything was ridiculous, but more cos things on two different continents that are actually very close can react to more or less the same thing in totally different but totally awesome ways. I love to see people happy. It's like a tiny sprinkle of glitter upon life. Especially when you smile at a random stranger in the street and then they smile back and it's like the most minute friendship in the entire world, including those made by molecules, and electrons and whatnot. (The only way I could understand chemistry and physics was if I slotted it into my own terms. As such, I learned how to balance equations using fruit salad and particle-ish-ness with friendship groups. So while the rest of the class were working on ionic bonding, I was naming electrons. I named one Arthur, after the hitchiker's guide. I was going to call one Ford, but I didn't want to sound silly or anything.)

Um, so yes. The point.

The point is, right now I have not spoken in five weeks. I have not taken a vow of silence, or been threatened and nothing bad (well... aside from other mental issues) has ever happened to me. But I can't speak. I don't have a cold, or laryngitis, or some kind of throat cancer thing, I just can't speak. All the words are lodged in my chest, and I can feel them there but I can't persuade my vocal cords and lips and tongue and teeth and throat to all cooperate to say things. It sucks. Really. Especially in places where a waitress, who is clearly a lovely person but very stressed out, tries to take my order and all hell breaks loose because she's already taken away the menu and playing charades to say "I'd like some apple juice, please," because I've forgotten my pencil or nobody can decipher my handwriting because I'm shaking too much because we're out in public and there are people, and oh, dear Maude, it's just too much.

I have a condition called selective mutism. I've lived with it for as long as I can remember and it's only in the past few weeks we realised it was A Thing. Which is sort of weird, because suddenly... well, as soon as I read about it it was like the moment when the optician slides all the right lenses home and all of a sudden everything is perfectly clear and you discover that that thing you thought was an E was actually a Q and you're left wondering how in the name of sanity did I ever think that was normal? And (just in case it helps) I've been diagnosed by a real proper psychiatrist who didn't get his doctorishness from a cereal packet. He is awesome, by the way. And he has many, many books in his office. SO he either reads a lot OR he's a spy with lots of cool things hidden in books. Either way he's totally awesome. Although every time I go and see him he tells me many, many things I really, really don't want to hear. So there you go.

Just to give you the basic facts, selective mutism is when someone (usually a small child - most common onset is between four and seven years old, although it's possible to develop it before or after those ages too,) can speak just fine in some situations where they're comfortable, such as at home, might even say too much and accidentally tell daddy that mummy said the F-word and the B-word and the K-word at that man who very very nearly hit the car when he didn't effing indicate on a roundabout today, leaving you wondering what the K-word is and deciding it's a spelling thing.

In other situations they may be completely silent.

Most commonly it's first noticed at school. Many children find settling into school hard. I mean, you're thrown into a place where, for eight hours every day, the rules are all different and you have to ask permission to do anything and you have to learn seemingly random stuff for some reason you have no idea about... well, it sound pretty disconcerting to me. The first month of school doesn't count for selective mutism as a diagnosis, because of the weird. But after that, it's not good. Well, before that isn't good, but you know what I mean. There is simple shyness, that loads of kids grow out of, and some don't, and it can be debilitating. But selective mutism is not shyness. It's an anxiety disorder that might not go away on it's own. Many kids who have selective mutsim are also very shy. I know, I've been there. But shy children might talk to people after a period of time. Selectively mute children might never do that. It's a very hard distinction to make sometimes.


Some kids will only talk at home, some kids will only talk to other kids at school, some kids will talk to no one at school. Maybe they can't talk at the park, but they are happy to say thank you to the nice checkout lady in the supermarket. It differs for everyone. Some people find it easier to talk in an anonymous place, where no one is going to make a big fuss about you talking, like Starbucks. (You might need to take a trip to Starbucks to check. You know, for experimental purposes. Better safe than sorry! Or should that be better safe with soy latte?)

Sometimes it's written off as rudeness, that the child is too stubborn to even have the common decency to say hello. Other times the child is said to be shy, or that they're difficult or have problems with authority. I heard of one extreme case where a kid was diagnosed with autism because they could not speak, despite there being no other symptoms.

I was weird. (As always. I'm good at weird. Maybe I could go on Britain's got talent and just be weird at them! That would be awesome. It'd probably branch out the range of talents from singing, dancing and dancing with dogs to other, more obscure talents. Like being able to sleep through practically anything, like my sister. Seriously. We had the loudest thunderstorm we'd ever had one night and she slept straight through. There could be an explosion down the road and she wouldn't even roll over. If that's not a talent I don't know what is.) I could talk to teachers just fine, but other kids were hard. Very hard. In primary school it was there, but less noticeably. I've always been the kid in the kitchen at parties, practically begging to be allowed to wrap cake or clear up or set out the party food. Anything to stop me having to try and fail to talk to other children. Children I liked just fine, very much in some cases. But I couldn't speak. And because I was little I couldn't really express this to anyone. And also because the not talking kinda makes communication a bit tricky, especially if your writing isn't good. (I might have mentioned before: My handwriting looks like it belongs to someone who is not only writing with their wrong hand, but is also attempting hieroglyphs. While being attacked by a swarm of killer bees.) (They actually thought I was dyslexic for a while, until they realised my handwriting just looks like I have letters in the wrong place or missing altogether. The fact I wasn't being attacked by killer bees at the time was helpful.)

There is an idea that kids grow out of this. Let me just say this: while some kids

might learn to manage the anxiety on their own (because it's an anxiety disorder, whoopdeedo) others don't. I am case and point on that. It just got worse as I got older until in high school there are classmates who have never heard me speak. I didn't go to my prom, I didn't go to any parties, and I was awfully lonely.

I'm not saying your child might have the same experiences as me if you don't check this out. I've always been a bit odd, and I don't doubt that if the selective mutism was taken out of the equation (there go the bananas!) I would have probably been lonely as well. I'm not saying we should label kids left right and center, or medicate them if it's not absolutely necessary, but early intervention is important. I'm 18. I'm technically an adult (although Maude only knows I don't feel it) and as such I need to go to the adult services. Who are amazing and awesome and everything, but they haven't the faintest idea what to do with me. So we're making our way through various antidepressants and anti anxiety things (with some surprisingly hilarious side effects -- one of them made me walk like a drunk person. A SERIOUSLY drunk person. Holding on to walls, falling up stairs... at 10am in the morning. Oh, the stares! The bemused looks! I could just feel my mother restraining herself from saying "Why yes, that is my daughter. No, she is not drunk. She is just having... balance.. issues. No. NO. It is not an excuse!")

There's a whole awareness movement going on. And I don't know how it is in America, maybe this whole entire thing is irrelevant, but over here it is moving like a tortoise in treacle. Nobody can decide how very rare, or very common this is, because there are not enough studies. And there seem to be no studies on adults with selective mutism. At all. Which is peculiar, seeing as the adults are the ones who are most likely to be able to convey the information they need.

I don't want to worry you. I don't want to freak anyone out. If your child doesn't speak at school or at parties, by all means give it a while to see how things pan out. I'm not trying to make anyone diagnose children with conditions if that's unhelpful to them. But from the point of view of somebody who has battled with this her entire life, not knowing what it was, thinking I was broken, I would rather know it had a name and that help is there than have to go it alone.

I want to help. I want to try and maybe keep another kid from having to wrap cake at parties while everyone else is playing because they can't talk. As much as possible I want to prevent someone else from feeling the enormous anxiety I did, and still do. Like I said, Kate and Lydia don't have to post this. It's not amusing, it's rambling and it's completely born of this feeling of a hole in my heart because I cannot ask someone to pass the salt, much less tell my family I love them. The huge anxiety that something could happen to my mother when we're alone in the house and my family won't be back for a week and I won't be able to pick up the phone and call for an ambulance or explain what's wrong. (Although I also won't be able to accidentally say JUST the wrong thing. There are upsides to every story, silver linings to every cloud, hilariousity to every... incident.)

I'm sorry for any worry I might have caused. I just feel it's important. Thanks for reading this. It means a lot, even if none of it applies to you. Even if you're rolling your eyes at it. Even if you think I'm scaremongering. If you think the last, I assure you, I never meant it that way. Also sorry. In the time it's taken you to read this there may well have been an incident involving a blancmange, a giraffe, and sixteen double pointed knitting needles. (which, might I say, is a surprisingly ninjaish thing to have around in case of shark attacks.)

Love,
Offspring #1

P.S Also: This is awesome and you may like it.



Yes, Offspring, it is AWESOME! Just like you...We love you.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

62 comments:

  1. You are awesome Offspring! I hope your voice comes back soon.

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  2. ((((((hugs))))) to the Offspring with lots of love, as well.

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  3. Offspring, you may not have what people traditionally think of as a voice, but your written voice kicks butt. It is so quirky and full of life and so very sincere. Your desire to share your trials is not scaremongering at all, but a genuine and unselfish desire to help. I wish you would start your own blog. You would have a huge following and be able to reach so many people! I am sending you a hug. And a duck. And some extra double-pointed knitting needles. Because darned if I know what to do with the wicked pointy things.

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  4. Offspring #1 You.Are.Awesome. It takes a lot to speak out about something people don't get or know about. Love your letters and you have a ton of people who think you're awesome on this side of the pond. Keep your head up,

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  5. Dear Offspring,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Really. Thank you.

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  6. Sweet offspring, you are awesome, & you are in my prayers. I'm so glad you have an excellent doc who knows what he's talking about! It makes all the difference in the world. Although my condition isn't rare, I wasn't diagnosed w/ ADHD until I was 30, and spent the last 25 years thinking I was inherently lazy & careless. I'm so glad you are getting treatment earlier!

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  7. Oh, Offspring. I relate. I relate so, so much. I don't have selective mutism, per se, but my struggle with anxiety is remarkably similar. I've had it almost all my life, but it wasn't until last year when I went away to college that we realized it was A Thing. So, yeah, now I'm on the anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds track too. I know I don't know you and I've never even commented on RFML before (although I've been lurking for months), but please, feel free to contact me. Just leave a comment on my blog if you're interested and I'll give you my email. *hugs* to you and you'll be in my thoughts.

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  8. Honey I have bad anxiety issues too, fortunately or maybe unfortunately I can talk just find, but I can't get in an elevator or drive over a bridge. I have horrible panic attacks, so while I may not go through what you do I understand about anxiety. It will get better, maybe they have a medicine that will help you.
    Much love and luck Jessi

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  9. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be to live with this type of anxiety disorder. It seems like Offspring #1 has a lot to say - luckily for us, she is quite a gifted and hilarious writer. I, for one, am so glad she wrote in to tell you (and us) about this diagnosis. She is a very brave lady. I am sending many hugs from Americaland, specifically New Jersey - but not the yucky part of New Jersey - the nice green, farmy part.

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  10. Dear Offspring #1, you may have lost your words, but you have not lost your voice. Keep writing. Keep expressing yourself. Keep being awesome. The rest will work itself out.

    Big, squishy mom hugs from across the pond.

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  11. Sending you lots and lots of (((hugs))) from Canada (which is practically the same thing as Ingerland heehee) Offspring!

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  12. Xo Offspring. I went through a bout of anxiety (which I have struggled with my whole life) where I couldn't leave my house for two weeks. The thought of going anywhere terrified me. Even after I was able to fiction outside the home, my mom had to come sit at my work to keep me from freaking me out.
    Still struggle but am immensely better. These things take time

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  13. Oh Offspring #1, I hope that the amazing Psychiatrist with all the books helps you find your voice, but if there is something you can hold on to during this journey, it is that your "written voice" is spectacular. And honestly, if it is possible, a tablet or laptop computer in your bag at all times will always give you a way to communicate.

    As a grown woman with lifelong anxiety issues, I'm glad you are getting awesome help now and wish you much luck, proper gerbil guidance and fuzzy friendly bees to keep you company. <3

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  14. You are unrepeatable. There is a magic about you that is all your own.

    I didn't come up with that. Someone else did. And then someone ELSE sent those words to me when I needed them. So now they go to you. Luckily, when you have friends like Kate and Lydia, you have all of their friends, too. So lots of love and support is headed to your side of the pond. Good luck, dearie!

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  15. Wow, Offspring! This is the first time I've read one of your posts & I'm already a fan!
    Hope you get your voice back soon {{hugs}}

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  16. Okay, no vocal voice does not equate to no voice. You have to write. Write for television, write books, write movies, write plays, KEEP WRITING! PLEASE! The most talented artists are those that are unique, and you my dear are unique. The thoughts seem to roll off your pen. I would totally watch a show with a character based on your thoughts. Maybe throw in Kate and Lydia too! :) Just think of every person out there with A.D.D. that would totally relate to this type of thought processing. I too have thoughts that go ten different directions, but I tend to stammer when trying to keep on track. Thank you for sharing your letter and insight into your life. I will say a prayer that you will be blessed and find a way to develop your uniqueness into a lifetime of happiness.

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  17. Offspring #1, I am struck by what a talented writer you are at such a young age. Your ability to express yourself in writing in such a unique and entertaining style should not be underestimated. Please continue to receive support from professionals and your family. I look forward to hearing more from you in any form or fashion you can muster!

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  18. My heart is crying for you, Offspring #1. Here's a big hug from Texas with lots of positive energy to you and your awesome doc.

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  19. As a mamma of a son with elective mutism, all I can say is...THANK YOU!!!!!!
    I'm thinking a "domestic enemies of the moms of non-chatty kids" would be AWESOME!

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  20. Offspring #1, thanks. I can only hope my kids grow up to be as awesome as you, issues and gerbils included. I'm going to go put glitter on something and think of you!

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  21. Dear Offspring #1,
    As a mom of a child with special needs, including a speech disorder that makes it difficult for him to say what he wants to say whenever he wants to say it (though his diagnosis is not selective mutism), I want to thank you. Thank you for being an advocate for yourself and for others with special challenges. I applaud your efforts to raise awareness, which as you so aptly said, can be a painfully slow process. I appreciate the passion and vulnerability with which you exhort parents to seek early intervention if they have any concerns about their child's development. You are right on. Parents have nothing to lose by seeking an evaluation, and our children have everything to gain. Praying you find the right solutions and support to meet your needs. You are awesome! I would be proud if you were my offspring!

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  22. Offspring #1, hugs to you. It takes a lot to open yourself up to total strangers. There are a lot of "problems" that are left untreated because the medical profession doesn't want to "label" children.
    I am 36 and have just been told that I am a high functioning autistic person. If I had been diagonised at a younger age it might have helped,it might not have but we will never know.
    I know it doesn't help much to say, but I will say it anyway. You have found out what is going on with you at still a relativly young age, 18 is still a baby in terms of life. You can manage now, knowing that there really isn't anything "wrong" with you, you have something going on that isn't your fault. It is part of your life that you and your family have to live with. And try not to worry so much, if there is an emergency and you can't talk, they can trace the call and still get help there.
    Many hugs to you hon.

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  23. may you continue to realize that you are special and have many things that you can teach people, with or without properly functioning vocal cords xo Offspring #1

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  24. Offspring, you will just have to knit with all silk all the time...expensive but glorious! Couldn't happen to a nicer and more fabulous writer. You should figure out if there is a way to text your local emergency services in case of an accident. Of course, I'm worried your next letter may be of the "I've fallen and I can't get up" variety, what with the gerbilicious balance issues.

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  25. What a fantastic idea KathArine!! Offspring you really should start you own blog!!! You are full of awesomeness!!!!!!! Hugs, hugs, hugs!!!!! So glad you have found an awesome Doctor to help you.

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  26. Offspring #1, big hugs to you. I have a niece who had a simply awful time in larger groups and unfamiliar situations when she was younger. We couldn't figure out why she freaked out about going to birthday parties, or cotillion or even larger family events where she knew everyone. She was 12 when a great pediatrician finally figured out she had anxiety issues along with a spot on the Asperger's chart. Understanding that, plus the help of anti-anxiety medications have made all the difference in the world! Now she's in her second year of college and looking at nursing programs.

    Take heart, once you get the meds figured out things will be much better.

    You're not alone... you have many many friends here in Mommyland!

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  27. Offspring #1 I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering how you were! Even with no voice right now you are amazing. Please keep writing, you are so talented. Your voice will come back when you are ready to talk, don't let other people measure you by that. We love you here!!! Big (((((HUGS)))) from Seattle!!

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  28. Dearest Offspring #1,

    I'm heartbroken to hear of your struggles. Like you said, there's always that silver lining- your ability to communicate so well through written (okay, typed) words. Your letters have made me laugh just as hard, if not harder at times, than Kate and Lydia themselves. You are amazingly bright and funny and lovable, and I only hope you the best. Keep trying, there is always a solution, it just sometimes takes a little while (I've had my own share of demons, as I'm sure most of the people who read this blog have as well) Please try to keep your sense of humor about you... I know sometimes that's all we seem to have to keep us afloat. I'll be sending you lots of happy thoughts and koala hugs (seriously, don't you KNOW those have got to be the best kind?!?) Keep us all posted. We are kinda related now anyway :)

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  29. THANK YOU for opening up about this. You are an amazing writer and obviously have so much to offer the world--it doesn't matter if it comes from your voice or not. Anxiety issues SUCK! My daughter has several of them and has been fighting through them since we met (she was one at the time). I am in awe of her and also of you - for the courage, drive, and stamina it takes to just keep working. What I've realized by sitting back and watching her is how remarkable she is--how much she adds to this world, and yet she doesn't seem to notice it at all. You seem very similar--never forget how wonderful you are--with a voice or without. Your uniqueness (okay--I totally can't spell that) helps add to the beauty in this world! Love to you!!
    JD

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  30. oh offspring! you are so dear! i just love how you wrote this, so funny and sweet.
    when i was a kid, a friend of mine had selective mutism, and i was the only person in school she would talk to. i got to relay her responses to the teachers, and to the other kids. it made me feel so special and trusted.
    i loved her. she was so much fun and said the most killingly funny things when she whispered to me. she was spunky and pretty and generous and it was awesome being her friend.
    she started getting help and eventually didn't need me to be her translator, and the rest of the world got to see how wonderful and awesome she was and we grew up and kind of inevitably drifted apart.
    reading this letter from you made me remember her all over again, and i'm so grateful for that. thank you.
    like the other commenters ^, i am praying for you that you have all the support and encouragement you need. and i'm also hoping you keep sending letters our way via kate & lydia ... they're a blast.
    *hugs*

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  31. Ohhhhhh my goodness. First time I've heard about Offspring #1... and I read all the related posts. You're right, my head is buzzing.

    So, Offspring #1, I think it's awesome that you're speaking out here, letting us know about this condition. And I'm sad that you have this condition, because you obviously have a lot to say. Your letters are AWESOME by the way.

    It's been nice "meeting" you.

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  32. I am a speech pathologist here in Americaland. We sometimes get kiddos with selective mutism very early, but it is SO HARD to diagnose and just as hard to treat. Thank-you for giving me some insight into how those kiddos are feeling. Much love!

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  33. I am a speech pathologist here in Americaland. We often get kiddos with selective mutism very early. But it is SO HARD to diagnose and just as difficult to treat. Thank-you for giving me some insight into how those kiddos are feeling. Much love!

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  34. "I love to see people happy. It's like a tiny sprinkle of glitter upon life." you've got a better attitude than most people, i'm going to steal this quote for myself! :) and as for feeling like an adult, at 30, married, with two children, i'm starting to wonder when exactly that happens :) we love to hear from you offspring #1! (((hugs)))

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  35. Offspring, I have loved your posts because you think the way I do, and I didn't know *anyone* did. You are wonderful and using your written voice to try and help other children just shows it even more.

    I remember the feeling of finding my counselor person just before I aged out of the children's service and into the adult ones. It was terrible. I didn't have old person problems and they didn't know what to do with me.

    Many big hugs to you from a Ingerlandish person here in Umericur.

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  36. Offspring, you're beautiful the way you are.

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  37. Dear Lovely Offspring across the pond,

    I think you are awesome. :) That is the biggest compliment given in our household. I once had a student who had selective mutism in my first grade classroom. The children and I worked really hard to make him feel included without talking. He would talk to me only in the direst of circumstances. Your story made me think of him again and I looked him up. He just graduated from high school! I don't know any more than that, but I am happy that your story led me to look him up. xoxo

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  38. hugs and lots of love to you offspring! it was very brave to write in, do you have your own blog? that might be something you should think of, b/c i know i would take some time to read something by you everyday, you are a treat to read :)

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  39. Sending hugs your way. You sound very brave and I hope you find success dealing with this soon. And just so you know I'm a 37 year old mother of 3 and I'm still waiting to start feeling like an adult, I'm not sure when exactly that kicks in.

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  40. Hugs to you, Offspring #1! As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder (social anxiety disorder, undiagnosed simply because I don't have time to follow up with my doc), my heart goes out to you as you describe your struggle. I'm also wondering if you've explored the world of Asperger's syndrome... I'm in no way "armchair diagnosing" you, but some of your awesome personality traits plus the anxiety remind me of components of a "typical" Asperger. I'm a mama of a child with Autism (recently diagnosed) so I've been doing a lot of reading lately, maybe that's why it's fresh in my mind. Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts with every direction they take. I can see why the awesome Lydia and Kate chose to publish your post. Smooches!

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  41. Offspring #1:

    I've only recently found Kate and Lydia (I know, it seems crazy that I was floating around in the world without knowing they were there) and have just read all of your letters in their posts.

    You are amazeballs, dahling! Should you ever start a blog, I would gladly read.

    Anxiety issues, yeah, those suck. How I got through school I will never know. I'm glad there are more things that are real things now so that maybe you can find the right combination of treatment.

    Oh, and this just popped into my head. Your concern about needing to use a phone: You might think about a TTY. A teletypewriter that would allow you to call a relay service in an emergency. http://www.abouttty.com/. (That's just the first site I found.) If nothing else, it might alleviate the anxiety. I used one all the time when I was at college and communicated with hearing impaired students. They are simple to use. I'm sure Ingerland must have a similar system.

    So, sending many hugs. Hang in there and keep writing!

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  42. Offspring #1....YOU are glitter on this earth.

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  43. Sending love and good vibes your way! To be a little Pollyanna-ish... If you spoke and often we wouldn't have been privy to such an amazing letter. You have an amazing sense of clarity on your life that people don't often stop to think about. I'm very impressed with your depth and ability to still be fun... And how much you care about people to educate them. Even while processing your life right now. You have a good heart. Thank you and hugs!!!

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  44. thanks for this -- i taught at a school in the south bronx for a few years and there was a 2nd grader in our school with selective mutism (she'd been there since preschool and never said a word, though she evidently talked plenty at home). i always assumed she didn't talk at school because the school was a maddeningly chaotic, poorly run, unsafe zoo. i also thought it was frankly the most sane reaction anyone in the building had. social anxieties are very real, and in many cases i think people who aren't "desensitized" to overwhelming things are the only ones among us who aren't nuts.

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  45. Freak on a leash (LOL)August 21, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    Oh sweetheart, this was the first time I read you (Kate & Lydia keep me sane =), and I'm all set to pack up my daughters and say "we're going to Ingerland to meet someone special" =D I'm a teacher's aide and I've had a student with selective mutism; but mostly you just spelled out my own feelings... I so hear ya.
    I've been known to faint at a bus stop shed when it starts raining and the other people there lurch in on me, I get completely confused by bright lights, can hear people swallow their own saliva from across the room, and the mere thought of being casually touched - even by friends - makes my stomach hurt so much that I want to tear it right out.. And a host of other things. I was 35 when I accidentally came across an occupational therapist who said that I'm a clear cut case of standalone sensory processing disorder. No wonder I relate so well to the special needs kids I work with. And dealing with people's ignorance is something that occasionally makes me lose my schmidt something terrible, no matter how much I try to advocate in a non-argumentative way. When you don't look sick, you can't be sick, therefore you must be conformed at any cost; my tactic is to smile and nod, and do whatever the whuck I please when the well-intentioned fools all sail away, and I have my music and sense of gallows humor and writing to process my feelings. And two beautiful and talented daughters who've both inherited their share of mommy's quirks. If there's anything positive to be found, mommy's fought hard and faced impossible odds for them before I even knew they got it from me, you're so dead on the money about early intervention.
    But honey, if I had even half my life back with the knowledge I have now, so much would've been different, take it from someone who knows, 18 is a good place to start!

    Much love and good mojo from Finlandland <3 And a big hand to Kate & Lydia for sending this my way =)

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  46. until you are speaking aloud - speak in a blog - your whiplash train of thoughts is unique and your perspective should be heard

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  47. Darling Offspring:
    I have a family member with selective mutism; she didn't talk to anyone outside her mom, dad and sister for 14 years. But she, like you, has an incredible "voice:" she is an amazing photographer. So keep writing, because you are amazing and funny and so intelligent! You have a beautiful perspective!

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  48. you have a wonderful unspoken voice. i totally see you writing your own blog and CHILDREN'S books, the way you express yourself would entertain little ones and keep the the mothers everywhere absorbed instead of saying, not the pokey little puppy again!!!! we here at mommyland love you, and i'm glad you are offspring #1.

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  49. Offspring,
    I don't know you, but I KNOW you are an amazing and strong person! You may not be verbally speaking right now I(and I'll be honest there are days when I want to do the same;)) but you are "speaking" to the hearts of many!! There are alot of way to communicate and you have an incredibly unique one! I love to read your writing (I read it in a totally fake American version of a British accent....you sound like Mary Poppins to me!) You have an incredibly strength to be able to clearly share something deeply personal. If I was in "Ingerland" I would take you out for a cup of coffee and we could invent a new version of sign language to "talk" about EVERYTHING!!
    Keep writing! And know that you have friends and support here in America!!
    Hugs!!! (and watch out for badgers!!!)
    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
    -Heather P.

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  50. Offspring#1,

    Would you like to cross-post this at my blog? I would LOVE that. I have a daughter with selective mutism, though, for her, it's getting better. I don't have nearly the following of this blog, but every signal boost counts, yes?

    Also, you can use your voice there, pretty much anytime. Just say the word.

    Luna, mom to 3 kids on the autism spectrum.

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  51. Dear Offspring,
    I had never heard of selective mutism (spellcheck doesn't even like the second word) before reading your letter to Kate and Lydia, but I just know that someday I will come across someone--maybe a heartbroken mom or maybe a child or adult struggling him/herself with this problem--and I will recognize it because you took the time to tell us about it. And because of that I will have the necessary compassion and understanding to be helpful or at least not interfere-y in a bad way.

    I agree with the many posters who've already said how wonderful your writing voice is. You have a great talent that you can use no matter whether your vocal cords fail you from time to time. Keep speaking up, no matter what the medium.

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  52. Dear Offspring,

    I am sending you big squishy pink puffy heart hugs from Americaland. You are wonderful. Thank you for sharing your story.

    As a crocheter (and as my husband actually calls me a hooker - K&L no laughing please), I suggest Berroco Encore Worsted yarn. It's nice, soft, and has no wool. Cotton is always wonderfully nice as is silk. Trust me on this one, even if I am a hooker.

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  53. Ditto Sara. You have just done a wonderful job of educating us. Please continue to let others know of your struggles.

    You have a wonderful writing voice, it's obvious that there is so much in you trying to get out. Don't ignore it! Give your voice an outlet through writing!

    One last thing - you may have a gotten an 'aha!' diagnosis, but your doctor missed one thing: artist!

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  54. Suddenly I understand why she has so much to say by email... Sending *hugs*

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  55. Love you Offspring! I saw a documentary on this about 9 months ago on the Discovery Health channel. It was filmed in the UK and followed 3 kids. One of them was a teenager. They were all undergoing therapy and beginning to overcome their anxiety.

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  56. Offspring....{{{{BIG SQUISHY HUGZ}}}} You are full of awesomeness. Some folks may think "weird"...I prefer UNIQUE! Sending a whole flock of ducks...or whatever a bunch of ducks would be called...loaded with positive thoughts for you

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  57. Your voice is heard loud and clear in your writing, and what a gift! Selective Mutism is real and so challenging. I have anxiety, too, but it's mainly in my head where I obsess. As for the handwriting, try looking up 'dysgraphia' and see if it fits. There is room for all kinds of people here on Earth, sometimes we just have to push to make others move over a bit.

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  58. My daughter was diagnosed with selective mutism last year. She is six. Most people in my small midwestern town have never heard of it and think I am making it up.
    I am not.
    I am sorry you have such troubles, but I was glad to hear of your struggles, because I have never met anyone else with these struggles.
    She is being medicated, and she is better, but she still goes silent sometimes in public. And people give me the bad mommy look when she won't say thank you, and I get grumbling when she can't say please.
    Considering she screamed and hid her first two years of preschool - every single day — I think politely standing beside me is a giant step.

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  59. Oh dear happy me I had no prior solid proof that anyone else had such a squirrel-ey brain. In Jr. High I had weeks on end in which I barely ever if at all spoke - I was an expert at evasive body language to be sure the teachers didn't call on me. I'd get home in the evening and say something to a family member and my voice would croak oddly as it's mechanical parts were rusting over.

    Offspring, did you know that the lovely amazing Emily Dickenson wrote letters with a profusion of dashes - as in, WOW, even her LETTERS sound ethereal and breathless with thought (to me). It must have been a "whole-body" experience (of her life) for her (also)(-oh ASSumptions on my part!). She also almost never left the house and when guests came over she was frequently around the corner or in the garden or just off in an unpopulated corner... -I'm only saying all this just in case she's not as well-known in Ingerland- and for sweet cream on top Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz fame says in that book that he had a huge crush on her when he was young, and also that he was informally informed that every well-read man does at some point... :) I guess that means you're in the general vicinity of HOT, baby! (and I know, it's speech you can't get out, rather than your entire body but she does seem likely to have had an anxiety disorder too, no? and a great voice through her unique presentation of words...I just plip! blink! see a cousinish family resemblance though you have every right to disagree and I really wouldn't argue, you'd know for yourself. :)

    Thank you for opening up your mind to/for us!

    Oh, and you wouldn't believe my luck - I live in a house with glitter on the ceiling!! I's sprayed or splayed or scattered all over every bit of the "popcorn" ceiling and it really helps on those days when one(I)can't breathe for frustration and lean back in a chair or flop on the couch and look UP to avoid looking across or down at all the things that need to be done or especially fixed... And it makes my little girl want to dance. Nothing is more beautiful to me than when someone's eyes look like they have glitter in them, do you agree? That is my favorite favorite favorite sight in the world :)

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  60. Thank you for your post. We debate if my daughter is selectively mute. We joke about her having 10,000 words a day that have to be used. If she doesn't talk to anyone else all day, I get to hear all of them. Some of them have value, and some of them are just words that have to get out. She has begun to identify herself as shy because people tell her that when she doesn't respond to their questions. She is not shy - she just struggls to respond. Thank you for writing, and please continue to do so. It is great to see the struggles represented from a 'child's' point of view. You have a gift to be able to write about it. My daughter can also write when she cannot talk. We are just beginning to see a counselor to address the question of selectively mute. She has been diagnosed wth ADHD and an auditory processing disorder - but because she does not speak it is a challenge to determine what is really going on. She did not talk at all until she was three and her first words were a sentence - "Cheese Please Barney Now" at 5:30 am. She woke me up and wanted to watch Barney. I got up! Please continue to write about it - the kids need to be able to see it from their perspective - to be able to identify, advocate and solve problems for themselves. Kids can see themselves in you - not in the old folks who write about their past. Kids want current experiences they can relate too! I would also be curious if you learned sign language, if you would be able to express yourself when your vocal cords fail you about your desire to express yourself exists. You are mature enough to make a valid experiment of it. You probably already communicate by expression, but do not use a "defined language" that others can recognize. Keep writing!

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