Therapist to shine light on child mutism in north-east

Anna is a speech and language therapist who specialises in Selective Mutisim
Anna is a speech and language therapist who specialises in Selective Mutisim

A speech and language therapist is hoping to raise awareness in Aberdeen about a rare childhood disorder.

Anna Biavati-Smith is set to speak at a city venue about selective mutism – a condition where children are consistently unable to talk in certain situations.

She decided to bring her talk to the north-east after meeting parents from Inverness who travelled three hours to Edinburgh to hear her speak about the issue.

The 45-year-old works with children with the condition, which is often linked to a specific phobia of talking.

Anna, who lives in Edinburgh, now hopes to get the words “selective mutism” buzzing around Aberdeen.

She said: “I was hosting a workshop in Edinburgh and a family from Inverness came down to learn more.

“The mother told me there’s no one who understands what selective mutism is up north.”

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The speech therapist, who usually works in Edinburgh and Glasgow, said she was shocked.

She added: “I wanted to break the barrier and at least to get the words ‘selective mutism’ out there.

“So I decided to host a workshop in Aberdeen and Inverness to speak with parents and staff about how they can use strategies and effective skills to help their child develop the confidence to overcome this.”

Anna added: “It is important to understand the difference between shyness, refusal or inability to speak.

“Above all, teachers, parents and carers need to know how to handle the silence appropriately.

“This is about changing people’s perceptions.

“If this isn’t tackled early, it can really affect the child’s ability to make friends. Communication is such an important aspect as a person.”

The workshop will be held on April 24 at Curl Aberdeen on Eday Walk from 10am to 3pm.

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