The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Saturday, November 6, 2010]

She Talked to Me!

I know, I'm all about work lately.

I have this little girl with selective mutism, meaning that she is basically very choosy about whom she will talk to. She spoke to no one until about 6 months ago (she is three), and now it's just immediate family. She does talk to grandma but stopped for a few weeks after grandma moved to a different apartment. Yeah, she's easily rattled and takes time to warm up. She was in the EB problem (birth to three) for about a year, with weekly SLP visits, and she said a total of one word to the EB SLP. "Yeah" slipped out once. She's a tough nut to crack!

This is the little girl who got kicked out of nursery school for not being potty trained, who languished for six or seven weeks without services until I got the ball rolling about a month ago. I've been out to see the child three times now. I actually look forward to it, because my whole goal for the visits is to build a rapport with the child--and give mom strategies--but mainly to develop a relationship. I need the child to like me and trust me. I don't need to build "therapy" into things, just focus on having FUN. How awesome is that?

I had mom use her camera phone to record the child talking, to "surprise" me with when I came for my second visit. The child loved my first visit, because I am an insane person with no sense of embarrassment when playing with a three-year-old. I don't care that mom is watching. If it gets the child to talk, I'll make a fool of myself! Apparently Little Miss told her family a million times that week about throwing monkeys and laughing with Miss Annie while she (that would be me) made crazy monkey sounds. When mom told me that, I knew Little Miss would talk to me. I didn't think it would be so soon!

When I walked in the door for my second visit, the child ran at me full speed, skidded to a stop right in front of me, waved a drawing at me, and said, "Daddy!"

That was great... but she said not a word for the next 30 minutes.

The reason I had mom record the child and let me watch it was so that the child's "secret" would be out, and one barrier to talking to me would be removed. I hoped it would speed up the process from a year of not talking to me (though I hoped that my awesomeness would get things moving more quickly than the very vanilla EB SLP did) to mere months of not talking to me. The video started (audio only.. mom wisely hid the camera in her lap), and I heard Little Miss singing her ABCs. Adorable! I acted all excited about it and asked Little Miss (who had grabbed the camera, enthralled by her own talent) to play the video again. I just enjoyed it so much. She did, and then she flipped through the videos and found one of herself cleaning up with daddy, and she said, "Daddy clean up abba flabba blah bee famma mappa!" Yeah. I understood about a quarter of what she said. That was disheartening. But she was talking! To me! And she kept talking for the next 10 minutes. Unfortunately, when I said it was time for me to leave, the light left her face. She shut down and wouldn't say good-bye when mom prompted.

She didn't talk on the third visit, because the educator was with me. It was really disappointing, but not unexpected. I would say the chances of this child talking the first time she meets someone are zero to none. But she talked to me!


Nance | November 23, 2010 at 11:36 PM

You are awesome Annie!! Of course she talked to you, and will continue to do so because of your awesomeness!!! You are fantastic!! Miss you and your skeelz around here so much!!

Annie | November 24, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Aw, thanks Nance! I miss you! It's been a while, hasn't it? Your kids are just growing like weeds... I couldn't believe how big Tommy looked the last time I saw a picture on facebook!

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