Guest blog post by Clair Maskell
As an ex nursery nurse, I had done various special needs courses and Selective Mutism was only briefly discussed. I had not encountered it within my 11 years of childcare work and then a few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet E.
E was in my daughters preschool and they started school together. I became friendly with her Mum and through her, I started to get a picture of what life was like for a child with SM and how it effected the family.
It was soon clear that there wasn’t enough understanding of SM. Many teachers seemed to be unaware of strategies to help E and it was also difficult for other children to understand her too.
The more I learnt about E and her anxieties, how she couldn’t cry if she hurt herself at school yet was a live wire at home, how she would bottle up her worries and feelings and leg them all out at home.....I just felt I needed to do something to help people understand her better and also to make her feel like someone somewhere understood.
I had been dabbling with writing for children for a while, self publishing a book in 2013 and wanting to do more. E’s Mum and I had the same thought at the same time.....why not wrote a children’s book??!!!
And that is how The Loudest Roar cake about. It follows the lovely character Angus, the lion who has the most fantastic Roar, but it didn’t work when he left his home.
I chose a lion because I was so touched by E’s bravery. Imagine getting up every day and going to school without being physically able to express yourself. That’s bravery and what braver animal to portray that then a lion!
I have been so honoured to have E’s Mums support in writing the story, which my husband Dean illustrated for me. The story is really helping to raise awareness not just here in the UK, but in the US, Canada and Australia too!!
The whole point of the story is to explain to children what having Selective Mutism feels like and not only is it doing that, but it also is resonating with children with SM, who have given feedback to their parents to say Angus is “just like me”