A MUM is making a desperate appeal to the people of Wigan to help her daughter battling a rare and debilitating phobia.
Four-year-old Maisie Taylor suffers from selective mutism, a fear of the voice being heard which leaves her too frightened to speak to or communicate with anyone outside a close circle of family and relations.
Maisie has suffered from the condition, which affects roughly one in every 1,000 children, for around two years and has seen speech therapists and child psychologists.
However, her mum Alison believes Maisie’s condition is getting worse, and is desperately trying to contact other parents of children with selective mutism to share experiences.
Alison, of Ena Crescent, Leigh, said: “I just can’t find anyone else in the same position.
“I know there are Facebook groups but none of them are local, they’re all over the country.
“I want to meet some other people with the same experiences in Wigan. I desperately want to help Maisie, but nothing seems to be working and the frustration and stress of dealing with her condition is very hard to cope with and I just need a bit of help. All the experts I’ve seen tend to work more from textbooks.
“And I think you’ve got more chance of helping by coming into contact with real-life situations.
“Maybe other parents of children with selective mutism have tried something and it’s worked, because I just seem to be hitting dead ends everywhere.”
Maisie developed selective mutism very suddenly at nursery about two years ago, when the nursery brought in a kids’ worker on rotation to prevent the youngsters becoming too emotionally attached to one person.
Since that day she has not spoken a single word to anyone at the nursery except Alison, and her condition has deteriorated into an intense fear of speaking to a stranger or communicating with anyone she doesn’t know.
Alison said: “It’s only when I’m not there that it happens.
“When we’re in the car she sings along to Lady Gaga like a trooper, but as soon as we reach nursery and get past that gate it’s like someone has pressed a button and her face just goes totally blank.
“She’s quite happy to run around with the other kids at the nursery, she just won’t communicate with them, and now if she speaks to me the other children don’t know who’s spoken, they think she’s a mute.
“I’m just desperate for her to show some sign that she will improve before she starts school next September, because at the moment she’s too scared of being overheard to even go to the toilet without me being there.
“The child psychologist said it was probably attention-seeking, but you can see by looking at her face that she’s frightened to death.”
Alison hopes a recent documentary about selective mutism on ITV, called My Child Is Not Perfect, will help raise awareness of the condition.
She said: “Since the programme was on it’s been all over Facebook like a rash.
“It was quite upsetting actually, because the little girl they showed was almost identical to Maisie in all her symptoms.
“It’s got to help improve public awareness, because now when we’re out and Maisie won’t speak people think she’s rude, ignorant or silly, and she isn’t at all.
“She’s very loving to me and my mum and her sister and her dad, but to anyone else she just doesn’t have any emotional feelings.”
If you can help Alison, email firstname.lastname@example.org.