In its simplest terms, selective mutism is best described as a phobia of talking. It is an anxiety disorder that usually affects children, however if left untreated it can cause problems in adulthood too.
Sabrina Branwood has suffered with selective mutism since she was a child. One of the most devastating ways this affected her was when her grandmother suffered a stroke,
“I could talk all my life to my nan, but when she had a stroke I was so anxious I stopped being able to speak to her.”
This meant she was unable to express directly how much she loved her before she died, something she greatly regrets. Sabrina now relies on an app and her family to communicate.
Selective mutism is described as a childhood condition, however Sabrina is now 35 years old. She explains that when people ask her questions her anxiety makes it difficult for her to think and therefore speak. She says it makes her feel trapped, as if she is in a box shouting but...