Leanne gets through to Sam amid his deep despair in Corrie

Sam Blakeman (Jude Riordan) hasn’t communicated with anyone since seeing Natasha (Rachel Leskovac) in the funeral parlour in Coronation Street.

The young lad is experiencing mutism and hasn’t been able to talk about how he’s coping.

This week, Nick, Sam and the Platt family attended Natasha’s funeral.

In emotional scenes, Sam handed Nick a piece of paper – a eulogy.

Nick’s heart broke as he read out Sam’s words, that heartbreakingly said he feels he’s fallen into a black hole following his mum’s death.

Tonight, Simon (Alex Bain) arrived at the hotel room to look after Sam for a few hours.

But when Nick and Leanne returned, Simon revealed Sam locked himself in the bedroom the minute they left.

What is mutism, traumatic mutism and selective mutism?

The NHS definition for selective mutism is:

‘A severe anxiety disorder where a person is unable to speak in certain social situations, such as with classmates at school or to relatives they do not see very often’.

A child or adult with selective mutism does not refuse or choose not to speak at certain times, they are literally unable to speak. 

In time, the person will learn to anticipate the situations that provoke this distressing reaction and do all they can to avoid them.

Signs of mutism

The main sign a child is experiencing mutism or selective mutism is their change in ability to engage with people.

Other signs include:

  • Stillness or a frozen facial expression
  • Nervous, uneasy or socially awkward
  • Rude, disinterested
  • Shy or withdrawn

What is the difference between selective and traumatic mutism?

Selective mutism is a fear of talking to certain people. The cause isn’t always known, but it is known to be associated with anxiety.

Many children become too distressed to speak when separated from their parents and transfer this anxiety to the adults who try to settle them.

Children with traumatic mutism usually develop it suddenly in all situations. They will suddenly stop talking in environments where they previously had no difficulty.

An example of a traumatic situation for a child would be the death of a grandparent or parent. If they are unable to process the event, they may become mute in all settings.

Treatments

A GP will organise speech and language therapy for a child with mutism. It is sometimes called ‘talking therapy’.

In older children or adults, a GP may admit them to a mental health professional or an educational psychologist.

Recognising Nick was struggling, Leanne decided to try and get through to Sam.

Through the bedroom door, Leanne told Sam how she felt following Oliver’s death, and how much he is loved.

Clearly feeling similar emotions to Leanne, Sam opened the door and gave her a huge hug.

Nick smiled, pleased Leanne has connected with Sam, and over the moon to see his son making a small amount of progress.

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