Fostering Blogs

Selective Mute Blog

Emma’s fostering blog

Selective mute

James almost 18 and challenging because he is a selective mute (a phobia of speaking) he is also autistic. 

James would find it difficult in independent living as he needs constant prompts to just do every day things so he will be transitioning into Shared Lives; adult services and he will remain with us.

As his Foster carers it can be frustrating communicating with him and difficult in building a relationship. He has never spoken to any of us at home and we have never pressed this issue we just offer alternative methods so he can communicate his needs.

He doesn’t always nod, however he can write so we are constantly prompting him to use this method on his i-pad so we can know what his needs are and so he can take part in decision making meetings about him.

Although he is a selective mute we have to encourage him to join in by writing things down, thumbs up or down, nodding yes or no. It can be difficult at times when he ignores you completely, not acknowledging by shaking his head or nodding and has to be told.

Everyone includes James in conversation even if he chooses not to acknowledge this at times, and he will often rely on adults to talk on his behalf, and often the other adults end up turning to me for the answers, but I try and throw it back to James.

We are working on his independence skills; buying clothes, doing his laundry and learning to cook and budget. He has to have prompts to do things and he has a white board in his room to remind with everyday tasks; shower, wash his hair and dry it properly, use deodorant, shave or clean his teeth. We do worry as James is a loner; he has no friends, although he gets on well with the younger foster child and likes to links up on his games. Usually I can tell if he is happy because he likes to play Jokes which shows he has a sense of humour, smiles quite a lot. It is difficult as James does not care about his personal effects, easy come easy go; just replaces items with his DLA and James would be happy to just stay in his room all day and play games if he were allowed. Very firm boundaries work well for him; he is now in a good routine, likes College, is making progress, and now taking part in enrichment; from playing computer games all the time, now likes playing board and card games. We have spent some years looking for specialist help for him but really there isn’t anything out there that can help.

My thoughts are children and young people with special needs, even those with the most complex and challenging needs have different capabilities regarding decision-making, but they can make choices and achieve with ongoing support.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!