Sam Blakeman (Jude Riordan) will find a friend in George Shuttleworth (Tony Maudsley) in Coronation Street soon as George helps him make a huge breakthrough.
Calling at the flat, George presents Sam with his old telescope.
Sam smiles, but his happiness fades when he spots the smashed memory jar on the side.
As George sets up the telescope, Nick (Ben Price) frets over the note he read in which Sam wrote how he wished his last words to his Mum had been different.
The next day, Nick, Leanne (Jane Danson) and Sam return from their first session with the psychologist.
Nick and Leanne’s good mood continues when George calls at the flat and reveals Sam has sent him a note, requesting his company for some stargazing.
What is mutism, traumatic mutism and selective mutism?
The NHS definition for selective mutism is:
‘A severe anxiety disorder where a person is unable to speak in certain social situations, such as with classmates at school or to relatives they do not see very often’.
A child or adult with selective mutism does not refuse or choose not to speak at certain times, they are literally unable to speak.
In time, the person will learn to anticipate the situations that provoke this distressing reaction and do all they can to avoid them.
Signs of mutism
The main sign a child is experiencing mutism or selective mutism is their change in ability to engage with people.
Other signs include:
- Stillness or a frozen facial expression
- Nervous, uneasy or socially awkward
- Rude, disinterested
- Shy or withdrawn
What is the difference between selective and traumatic mutism?
Selective mutism is a fear of talking to certain people. The cause isn’t always known, but it is known to be associated with anxiety.
Many children become too distressed to speak when separated from their parents and transfer this anxiety to the adults who try to settle them.
Children with traumatic mutism usually develop it suddenly in all situations. They will suddenly stop talking in environments where they previously had no difficulty.
An example of a traumatic situation for a child would be the death of a grandparent or parent. If they are unable to process the event, they may become mute in all settings.
A GP will organise speech and language therapy for a child with mutism. It is sometimes called ‘talking therapy’.
In older children or adults, a GP may admit them to a mental health professional or an educational psychologist.
As Sam and George sit down together, George starts prattling on about astronomy.
Sam – for the first time in weeks – giggles, his interest evident.
Nick’s face lights up, but he’s overcome with sadness as he wishes he could make his son laugh.
It’s good news and progress for Sam, will George continue to help him?
If George is the only one Sam will open up to, how will Nick cope with that?
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