© Written by Toni Pakula 2022 | Voice for Selective Mutism
Can you believe it is that time of year again!!?!! Here in New Zealand, it is Spring! Lambing and calving season is in full swing. Flowers and blossoms are starting to appear on our trees; the days are getting warmer and lighter and most importantly October is just around the corner!! October is a particularly important month to me because it is Selective Mutism Awareness Month. As I am prepping my outdoor furniture ready for summer living, I am thinking up plans and projects to launch this October, plans which will bring much needed attention to Selective Mutism (SM). I hope my projects will inspire you to help me spread much needed awareness for Selective Mutism next month!
WHY IS RAISING AWARENESS IMPORTANT?
October awareness month for Selective Mutism has been created to help educate the public about this condition. Spreading awareness about Selective Mutism, current research, and therapy, helps reduce stigma and promotes the right way to help someone with this condition. Raising awareness for Selective Mutism is critical, because despite Selective Mutism affecting 1 in 143 children and adults globally, it is still a condition which is relatively unheard of in New Zealand! It is believed there is AT LEAST one child in every school who is struggling with this condition. There are many children who go undiagnosed due to Selective Mutism not being recognised or known as a condition. If teachers and parents are not aware Selective Mutism exists, children and teens will miss out on much needed support and understanding.
There are Teens and Adults in New Zealand who have been struggling with Selective Mutism their whole lives, unaware that they are suffering from an anxiety disorder. I think one of the most saddest realities of Selective Mutism is knowing there are adults and teens who are struggling with this condition alone, and without understanding themselves why they struggle to speak in some select situations. There have been many adults and teens who join the Facebook Support Room and exclaim, “wow, I found a name for what I have been struggling with my whole life; I didn’t even know it was a condition.” Learning about Selective Mutism and discovering support rooms like “SM Space Café” and "Selective Mutism New Zealand" helps teens and adults connect. These places also offer a safe space for parents who are seeking support and information on how to help someone they love with SM.
When teachers and parents recognise Selective Mutism, they have the potential to change the future of a child with SM. If children are diagnosed early, support can be given at a critical time which increases the chances of them overcoming Selective Mutism.
Awareness is key to helping families and loved ones struggling with Selective Mutism. So, let's work together to educate others about this condition!! I would love for you to help me raise awareness for Selective Mutism this coming month.
HERE ARE SOME WAYS YOU CAN HELP SPREAD AWARENESS DURING OCTOBER!
If you have a story you would like to share about Selective Mutism, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will publish your story on my social media pages, and website. Sharing our own personal experiences and knowledge not only helps raise awareness but also validates and empowers others who are struggling with this condition.
Paint some rocks and leave them around your local walk. This is a fun activity to do with your family, there are rock painting pages you can share your creations with. On the back of the rock, you can pop the voice website and #voiceforsm hashtag, so people can find more information about Selective Mutism.
Print some of my posters from the website and pop them up in your local community. If you let me know where in New Zealand you have placed the posters, I can make a map and pin all the places the awareness is spreading.
Email me pictures of the animals in your life who have helped you or someone you know through anxiety/ Selective Mutism, and I can share your fur babies on my social media pages.
My happy place. Take photos of you or someone you know enjoying their happy place/space and I will share these on my social media pages.
If you have someone creative in your household this project might be for you! Send in your best pictures of how SM feels to you or create an inspirational quote with colour and graphics. I will print them onto cups, T-shirts, and if I have enough a calendar, which you will be able to purchase.
Do you have a budding poet or storyteller in your family? Send in your poems and short stories and I will post one a day on my social media pages. If I have enough, I will create a new Instagram poetry and stories for SM account, and at the end of the year I could even pop them into a book, and you will be able to purchase the book!
I love ideas, and if you have any you would like to share, pop a comment below