Topias has been slow to warm since birth and he had already as a small child a very strong temperament. He reacted with strong temper tantrums if something unexpected happened. Topias was very shy when he was small and he shied away from new people. In playgrounds, he watched other children, and didn’t want to play when other children were around. In music school, he followed the songs from the doorway, peeping from behind his parents’ back. For Topias, it was very difficult to be left alone in a playgroup when he was 3 years old. In Topias’s 4-year-old check up at the children’s clinic, I raised my concerns about him, which were present in other areas of development. The child didn’t say a word to the new health care worker. From the children’s clinic, we got a referral to an occupational therapist.
Topias had to stay alone with the occupational therapist, which triggered his inability to speak for the first time. The child got so nervous to be left with the unknown therapist in a strange place, that he couldn’t speak the first time, nor the second time. And so, the child was referred for assessment to yet another adult, this time a psychologist. This time, the child became nervous and locked even more than before, and not speaking became a pattern for him.
After the assessment periods, the staff at day care told that they noticed the child spoke only to other children, not to adults.
The psychologist wrote a referral to a small-children’s psychiatrist and with the help of the psychologist’s statement, Topias started in an integrated special day care group aged 5½. Topias’s own carer from the daycare came to our home during the summer before the start of daycare to get to know Topias. She was warm and friendly towards the child, which greatly alleviated the beginning of daycare. When daycare began, we reserved many days to the introduction period, and one parent spent many days with the child in daycare. Mutism began to lessen due to the successful beginning to the daycare. I believe that of great significance was that the child’s own carer accepted the child so warmly. Also, the small 12-person group size and three warm and professional adults certainly played a decisive role in making it easy for my slow-warming and timid child to adapt to the group. Since the beginning of daycare, the child does not avoid speaking to strangers, although shyness has followed him through various stages.
At the moment, Topias is a lively 13-year-old boy in upper school. His is by nature temperamental and slow to warm up. He enjoys his own company, but is also social. He ass matured peacefully and gets along with both adults and children in school, and free time, such as in his football hobby. I am so thankful that I applied for help at such an early stage, and that Topias got a place in the integrated day care group, which I think is suitable for all children who do not dare or are able to speak. For us, help came at just the right time.