Ausnew Home Care | I have selective mutism, and want to change how

I have selective mutism, and want to change how students like me are treated

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Heywire winner, Tenille

In kindergarten, I didn't speak to my buddy for a whole year. Not a word.

It's not because I didn't want to, I just couldn't.

I had always thought of myself as a weak person.

"They can do it, why can't you?"

"Everyone gets anxious, what's wrong with you?"

I was bullied a lot in primary school. People thought I was so rude.

When I was eight, I was diagnosed with selective mutism.

It's an anxiety disorder. It means I can speak to certain people, but with others, I freeze.

I went to therapy. I remember being bribed to talk. It didn't help.

I remember getting told off when I couldn't find the words to participate in school sport.

"It's not a choice I had — does he really think I want to be like this?"

I can't play school sport anymore.

I shake, I can't breathe, everything goes blank.

Eventually, that terrifying feeling surrounded school itself.

I had to be medicated to get myself out of the door in the morning.

At 15, I was diagnosed with panic disorder and social phobia.

I realised I'd been having panic attacks since I was five, that everyone just thought were asthma attacks.

I went back to therapy, and this time it was better.

It gave me a drive, a reason to keep fighting.

I have strategies now to deal with my panic attacks. I go to the bathroom, sit on the cool tiles, that calms me down.

But I'm determined to keep learning.

I have big plans for my career.

I want to change the way students classed in special education are dealt with.

I never want any child to have the same experience I did.

I want to be a teacher and use my experiences to make things better for others going through the same things as me.


Source: ABC

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