New support group Greater Manchester Selective Mutism Network launched

Date published: 06 January 2020

Launched in November, the Greater Manchester Selective Mutism Network has been created to raise the profile of the little-known condition and support people with the condition.

Selective mutism is ‘a severe anxiety disorder where a person is unable to speak in certain social situations’. It thought to affect one in 140 young children and is more common in girls and children learning a second language. Symptoms typically show between the ages for two and four.

Symptoms of selective mutism include: inability to engage with different people, particularly new faces, appearing nervous, uneasy or ‘awkward’ and rude or shy behaviour in children.

It can carry on into adulthood and may affect spoken, written or gestured communication in those who are more severely affected.

Sabrina Branwood, a Rochdale resident who has the condition and is involved with the network, said: “The launch has come about because of the lack of both awareness, training, services and resources for those dealing with selective mutism in Greater Manchester.

“I personally have been trying for a number of years now to raise awareness of Selective Mutism in Rochdale as I have the condition myself. The Greater Manchester Selective Mutism is something I became involved with after meeting Andy Smith, the Inclusion Ambassador/SEND Advocate at Bury Council who was trying to set up the network.”

Sabrina was diagnosed at the age of 26 after five years of therapy when a worker at the therapy centre recognised Sabrina’s symptoms in a documentary about the condition.

She has previously spoken with Rochdale Online about her experiences of selective mutism:

The Greater Manchester Selective Mutism Network aims to work together to combine knowledge, skills and experience to more effectively support people in the region living with selective mutism and make sure as many people with the condition get the support they deserve.

The launch event was attended by representatives from the boroughs that make up Greater Manchester, with attendees consisting of professionals, parents and an adult sufferer.

Sabrina added: “There was a great atmosphere in the room and the event was well led by Andy, the passion and enthusiasm in the room was infectious. But that was it, that was the very reason we were all there, our shared passion to make Greater Manchester a better place to live and grow for those with selective mutism.”

Find out more about the Greater Manchester Selective Mutism Network here:

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