Monday 31 July 2023

Antje Bothin On Annika And The Treasure Of Iceland And Selective Mutism

Imagine you cannot talk... sometimes.

This is what the main character in  Annika and the Treasure of Iceland is faced with.

Young Icelandic adult Annika experiences the debilitating effects of a communication challenge called selective mutism, or in short SM. She can talk fine at home with close family but is unable to do so in certain social situations in public spaces, for example at school, at university or at work when people are around.

This causes a few issues when she spontaneously goes to the capital city Reykjavik on her own and embarks on an adventurous treasure hunt. Her journey leads her to unexpected places. She also encounters all sorts of obstacles.

Experts believe SM may be related to a fear of speaking and social anxiety. SM puts the person affected in a freeze state and inhibits their ability to communicate freely with other people. As this is very dependent on circumstances, it should better be called situational mutism.

Art by Kathy Rowan

This is a condition that usually starts in early childhood but unfortunately, it is not very well known by the general public; and also parents, teachers, and even health professionals are often not aware. But early intervention is key.

SM is not a choice; it is not stubbornness, laziness or rudeness. It should also not be mistaken for shyness or developmental disorders. If left unmanaged, it can continue into adulthood and cause serious problems with social interactions in all areas of life.

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