I was born to tell stories. Putting thoughts on paper has always come easily to me; through story telling, I paint pictures with my words and draw people in. It’s truly my passion, my job, my life.
Sometimes, the story isn’t mine to tell.
I’ve been accused of over-sharing. Of putting my life on the Internet; I’ve told stories about births, bloody noses and bare bottoms. And whenever I begin a blog post – especially one that involves my boys – I ask myself if they’d be okay with me inviting readers into our private lives. At ages 3 and 5, they’re too young to consent to being a fixture on my blog; hence, I often have to step back and envision them reading the post 10 years into the future.
Would they want me to talk about the funny little things they do? Will they be happy that I shared our stories… or mortified that I could be so personal and candid with strangers? Will they relish every post, as they take a glimpse into their wonderful childhood from years passed?
(Dear Sons of the Future: Your childhood was kick ass. Years from now, when you call me a b*tch and say life isn’t fair, I’ll send you blog links to the toys you played with, the places you’ve been, and the people you’ve met. You are spoiled fortunate.)
The story I won’t tell today is Ryder’s story. Months ago, he was diagnosed with Selective Mutism, a form of social anxiety. He lives with it every day. We’ve lived with it every day. To make a long story short, Ryder just completed an entire year of school, and spoke only a handful of times.
Of course, he is completely capable of speaking (to the point we often wish he would shut up), but in brand new social situations, he does not. At this point, you may be thinking Huh? I’ve seen videos of him speaking! Click the link above; it explains the diagnosis in a clear and concise way, and actually describes Ryder to a tee. Again, I could spend 5000 words going into specifics, but it simply isn’t my place to share these details. However, I did want to address the issue today for two reasons.
The first is to put it out there – and tag it up the wazoo so if anyone else is searching the Internet for selective mutism they’ll land on this post and contact me. I’d love to swap stories, share anecdotes and coping techniques. There are so few selective mutes out there, and finding information is difficult and frustrating. Most sources point to children growing out of it by the age of six… you can probably guess the number of prayers I’ve recited in the meantime.
The second reason I chose to share this post is to offer my sincere thanks to one of Ryder’s classmates, a sweet, patient, nurturing and caring little girl I’ll call K. From the very beginning of school, K befriended Ryder and took him under her wing. She held his hand when they lined up at recess; she sat beside him and complimented his amazing penmanship and ability to quickly grasp every Montessori concept introduced to him. She spoke to him as an equal; not as the weird, silent kid. And while she encouraged him to talk, she was never offended if he simply nodded in response. By the end of the school year, K was the only person Ryder had uttered a few words to – but in the case of selective mutism, it was considered a small breakthrough.
I wanted to thank K for being such an amazing friend to Ryder. And so I did something I’ve never done before – I called Fisher-Price and shared Ryder’s story with them. And when I said, “I’d love to gift K with something to show our appreciation…” they responded immediately and sent us the Little People Disney Princess Songs Palace to present to her. I am a proud #FisherPriceMom, and in that moment, it reinforced my adoration and commitment to the brand. Thank you K, and thank you Fisher-Price, too.
This was Ryder moments before K stopped by for a play date. A little boy, waiting for his princess to arrive.
My hope is that by this time next year, we’ll have made progress and Ryder will open up to everyone – not just the people he is comfortable conversing with. He is an inquisitive, intellectual and expressive little boy, and I want everyone to know the Ryder that I do. Until then, we’ll continue to introduce him to new people and new situations.
And we’ll continue to be his biggest cheerleaders.
Chandra Christine O'Connor
he is so cute! what a sweet gift. Glad you documented it all so they have memories to share with others as they grow up. very touching story. He looks so proud.
Thanks Chandra. He was so proud…
awwww… *tear* ♥
such a handsome devil.
:) He’ll get there Auntie Vicky… xo
I have never heard of this before Lena. This behavioural issue reminds me of Raj on the Big Bang Theory where he cannot talk to girls. Ryder always seems so friendly and seems as if he would be that kid who would talk to anybody. I am sure he will grow out of it. Look how happy he is waiting for his play date.
It’s so funny you mention that Tricha. This is what I found while researching:
“In popular culture
Possibly the most well-known instance of selective (as opposed to total) mutism in popular culture currently is depicted by the character of Rajesh Koothrappali in the television sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Due to social anxiety, he is unable to speak to women who are not family members. Drinking alcohol suppresses his anxiety, allowing him to speak, however it negatively affects his personality, making him an arrogant, obnoxious pervert. In the episode “The Terminator Decoupling”, however, he mistakenly drinks alcohol-free beer and due to the placebo effect, is able to hold a conversation with actress Summer Glau. He is later cured in the season six finale “The Bon Voyage Reaction” after his girlfriend Lucy (Kate Micucci) breaks up with him.”
Thanks for the support Tricha :)
Keep up the great work Lena it all pays off in the end and everyone in your family will benefit from your perserverence and LOVE !!! Thanks for sharing…. :)
Thank you Allie :) xo
Made me tear up
Don’t tear up! It’s all good :)
This warms my heart Lena! Your little boy is one lucky kid to have you and his princess! Thank you for sharing; I myself am an open book and have been accused of sharing too much.
Thanks Anne. I reasoned that sometimes, people don’t share enough; and if it can help someone else out, then I’m all for it.
“K” sounds like a very special little girl indeed ! I had never heard of Selective Mutism before, but now that I have read about it, I am thinking that many children who are thought to be excessively shy in certain situations could actually have this disorder. I am so glad you decided to share this information and get the word out so that other parents will be able to know what is affecting their child and be able to cope with it better. Two of my grandchildren have been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, and knowing that and understanding what makes them tick makes a world of difference to me for interacting with them.
I hope Ryder and “K” had a whale of a time on their playdate :o)
Thank you Flora. And you’re absolutely right; identifying the problem is key in finding a solution, and I’m so glad Ryder received an early diagnosis.
He is so adorable and he looks so proud there with his gift for his friend. So sweet!
P.S. – You are an awesome momma and I love reading stories about your family!
Thank you Cheryl :) Your kindness and support mean a lot!
That is so sweet! What a beautiful story. K sounds like a really special little girl. They are both lucky to have each other :)
Thank you Brenda! She is so special – one of the sweetest little girls I’ve ever met!
Diana @ Toronto Teacher Mom
That is the sweetest story I’ve heard in a while! Little K seems like such a great friend and I think it was a wonderful idea for you to do this. Very touching!
Thanks Diana! She loved the castle and I am so fortunate Ryder has her in his life!
such a sweet story to share with us :) I’m glad that the girl was able to see past that and see the great person that he is~
Couldn’t have said it better, rasilla :)
This is a wonderful story that I almost cried. Sometimes it takes one person to change us or to open ourselves up to. It looks and sounds like your son is doing great with his friend K. It is also nice that you wanted to share your thanks to K to helping and befriending your son.
Thank YOU Londia for your kind words. There will always be a special place in my heart for Ryder’s first friend!
What a sweet story. I am so glad that Ryder has a special little friend. Was K excited with her surprise?
She absolutely was, Judy :)
Awww….Tears….Both Ryder and K are very special indeed. Great post, Lena!
Thank you Riza – your generosity and kindness has touched our entire family! K *loved* the princess castle and I am forever grateful to you and your team. xoxo
What a heartbreaking, sweet story! I have a few patients with selective mutism and it can be really misunderstood. I’m glad it was recognized in your son and he is receiving support for it.
Heidi – just you writing that you KNOW others with selective mutism has made me feel infinitely better. You’re right; it’s often misunderstood, and awareness is key. Thank you so much!
I love this story so much! Ryder is an awesome little boy (both your boys are) and he’s lucky to have two loving parents to guide him through life. How sweet is is face in the photo, obviously thrilled about giving his friend a gift! A truly lovely story :)
Thanks you Shauna :) It breaks my heart because his face is so relaxed in the photo, whereas it’s usually anxious, afraid and distrustful in social situations. Praying that he gets through this! Play dates with the boys at our house as soon as I get back from Chicago next week :)
Hmmm… interesting. I hope Ryder is getting the help he needs to overcome this. My son had a friend that may have had this condition too. This little boy did not speak the entire SK year in the classroom. “He doesn’t talk to girls” is how my son described his friend. Of course the teacher was a female, and he not only didn’t speak to females, but he did not speak in their presence either. When he did speak to selected male friends, he would only whisper in their ear. Several years later I saw this buddy and he was speaking! Out loud! In front of everyone! I was surprised because every time he came over, I had never heard a peep out of him. So there’s hope Lena!
Thank you so much for chiming in NT! Yup, I’m hoping that he overcomes this as well and is on the slow-but-sure road to recovery. He has seen a child psychologist (who diagnosed him) and we’ve sent him to the best private school in our area so he receives proper nurturing and attention while we work through this. Fingers crossed :)
Suzanne Rudge (MapleMouseMama)
Lena, your little prince is a true angel. What a sweet thing to do for K and doesn’t she sound like the best little friend ever! I love stories about kids helping kids, just because. No strings attached. God bless them both. Good luck Ryder!
Thank you Suzanne :) They are both sweet kids and we are so thankful to K :)
Oh wow, Lena! What a powerful post! I was not actually familiar with his condition at all – if anything, it will inform others and like you said, give someone else going through the same thing someone to talk to!
I am so happy to hear that Ryder found what sounds like a solid friendship in K. That is such a sweet story!
Thank you Soozle. It was definitely the intent of my post to help spread awareness and hopeful, find others who can share their experience.
K sounds like a wonderful little girl for taking the time to look past the disorder to see the great person Ryder is. I’m not sure how big the private school is, but do you think it would be a good idea to talk to the principal to see if Ryder can be placed in the same class as K next year?
Very sad for Ryder: K is moving on to grade 1 next year. They were in a “Casa” class in the Montessori school, which is ages 3-5. This year K will move on to grade 1, whereas Ryder will attend the equivalent of Sr. Kindergarten in the Casa class. So, we’re slightly anxious about September, but we’ll make it work :)
Lena, your posts always get me. You write with such honesty. I think a cousin of mine had selective mutism as a child. She never spoke and now she’s married and happy and beautiful. We all need a friend like K. What a special girl. She must see how special Ryder is also. I love this story and the picture of Ryder waiting to give K her present! He is overjoyed and so proud. My heart swells xoxo
Thank you Crystal, and thank you so much for sharing your experience – it warms my heart to know you’re cousin worked through it just fine. xoxo
This is soooooooo cute! One of the sweetest things I’ve ever read. K is so blessed!
We’re all very blessed :)
Thank you for sharing Lena! I was not aware of Selective Mutism until now. I commend you for bringing attention and awareness of this issue through your post. I’m sure there are many other parents out there who might be going through the same situation, and the more information out there the better as early diagnosis is key. Your son is very lucky to have such wonderful and loving parents who are proactive in helping him overcome this. Ryder is also blessed to have a friend like “K” and she is just as lucky to know him!!
Thank you Nicole – you’re very kind, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment! xx
K sounds like a little angel. Thank you so much for sharing your story; Ryder is lucky to have such a loving mom!
Thank you Alexandra, and yes, K is an angel!
What a sweet story. I have never heard of selective mutism but it seems that many children once thought of as painfully shy may actually suffer from this. K is a princess and Ryder certainly looks like a prince, so handsome!
It’s so funny that you use the term “painfully shy”, because that’s exactly how I describe Ryder!
K is a very special little girl and I’m so happy for your son that he had the opportunity to meet a true freind. What a amazing story.
Thank you Carole :)
What a sweet story, so happy that your son has such a beautiful person in his life, he’s been blessed with a great family and a true friend :) thank you for sharing and teaching us all today.
Thank you Ginette. It was difficult to share but we are very blessed :)