Hi friends! Hope you’re recovering from a wonderful weekend! Daniel and I had the chance to spend the weekend with my awesome 13 year old brother! Even though Matt and I are 10 years apart, (with two awesome sisters sandwiched in between), we still have a blast when we hang out.
Matthew is an awesome boy- he’s charming, has a good sense of humor and he has Selective Mutism. Selective mutism is an anxiety-based disorder in which a person who is able to talk is unable to speak in given situations. It often is linked with social anxiety or extreme shyness. That being said, Matt doesn’t talk a whole lot. Matthew also tends to avoid eye contact, and he often has a very “closed” posture when people talk to him (this occurs more with strangers, not as much with family and friends.) We still talk to him and ask him questions, but he rarely responds with anything more than a nod “yes” or “no”. Sometimes, when we are doing activities together, he’ll open up and talk with us in short bits.
Matt has recently been seeing a specialist who has given our family some great tools to help Matthew communicate. He has a “star chart”, and each day he completes a task, he gets to put a star on the chart. 100 stars equals a reward. It was so fun to sit down with him at the end of the day to see how well he had done interacting with us that day! As an example, Matthew gets a star for choosing something at a store/restaurant. We swung into a drug store after a day of being outside, and Matthew chose a drink from the cooler and he earned a star for making his own selection!
We always try to do something active when Matt is with us because we enjoy being out and about, and it often leads to him opening up and sharing a bit of his life with us!
This weekend, we decided to take advantage of the BEAUTIFUL fall weather and do one of Matt’s favorite activities: Pedal Boating at Jacobson Park.
I thought the boats only held two people (turns out they hold three), so Silas and I went to hang out in the lake while the boys got a leg workout.
Silas really wanted to play with the ducks…
After Silas and I visited the dog park, we swung back and hung out on the playground with the guys and took some photos:
Matt had requested that we have burgers for dinner, and it turns out that Matt is quite the griller! We were out of charcoal, so the men built a fire (in the grill) using sticks and twigs.
The most special part of the weekend happened about 5 minutes before Matthew left our house to go home. You see, even though Matt has been around for 13 years, I’ve NEVER heard him say my name. He doesn’t really use people’s names at all. He’ll mention the names of the animals (Silas, Mowgli), but I’ve never heard him say a persons name. Right before Matthew left, Daniel and I challenged him to say our names. Just “Daniel” and “Holly”. We were prepared to give him $9 (the equivalent of about 90 stars- it takes him about two weeks to earn that many). Matthew recently purchased a PSP thingy and didn’t have any games yet. He told us that he wanted to buy a game, but that he had to earn $5-10 more to get it.
Daniel and I offered him $9 to say both of our names. At first, Matt didn’t seem to keen on the idea. After a few minutes by himself, Daniel and I went over and asked if he was ready, and Matt nodded yes.
I pointed to Daniel and said “This is"… “Daniel” said Matt. I pointed to myself and said “And this is”… “Holly” said Matt.
He said my name. I’m so proud of him and how he’s growing into a fantastic young man. I love my brother and I pray that God continues to help him to open up and to transform into the man that he was created to be!