The Smira conference yesterday was a great success, as usual. It is a coming together of professionals who have an interest in the field, parents whose children suffer from this very debilitating condition and children and young people with SM. Margaret and I went along again this year.
There is a balance between current trends, though provoking topics and success stories.
We heard from Anita Mckiernan, SLT about resilience. Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. She linked it beautifully with SM. I could listen to her all day as her presentation style is so easy and her knowledge amazing.
Then our own Natasha Dale stood up for 30minutes in front of that huge audience and gave a fabulous insight into what has helped her be where she is today. It dove tailed so well with the resilience talk because Natasha is the embodiment of just that. She didn't speak out side the house for years but her desire to help others has enabled her to come so far. There were many quiet tears in the audience both of relief and also respect. She even managed to take questions! We were extremely proud of her.
Then came Lucy Nathanson, Child Therapist, with a summary of what she'd seen at Brave Buddies, which is just one of the many intensive courses for SM available in the USA. It's typically American with activities and styles that wouldn't fit with what we do or believe in at Small Talk but is apparently working for many there. We'll publish Natasha Dales' views on this next time.
We heard updates from SMira from the indefatigable Lynsey Whittingham. She works so hard to organise everything. Many would like to see questions about SM in the baseline assessment which is done when children start primary school, others would like a parliamentary debate on it or feel that LEAs should be offering training via the usual list of CPD events. SMira is working with the Communication Trust to help raise awareness of all SLCN.
The day was completed with a dove release in Victoria Park with a prayer for Katie Rough, who tragically died earlier this year. She had suffered from SM.
If you are worried about your child with SM look at the FB page https://www.facebook.com/groups/SMIRASelectiveMutism/ where you'll find lots of files including where to get help. Their website is off-line at the moment.
You could also sign-post your child's teaching staff, CAHMS or any parents to our core-level training in Barton-under-needwood in May https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-introduction-to-working-with-children-who-can-speak-but-dont-selective-mutism-tickets-32556330862?aff=efbevent