Sarah Wilson: Silence Survivor

October 31, 2012

So I had this assignment for a journalism class of mine in which I had to write a profile piece over a person of interest. It took me a while to come up with a person to interview. But I thought of one and I wrote a profile story I am incredibly proud of regardless of the grade I get on it. I was going to wait and post this when I knew my grade but I just became too anxious, so without further ado... here is the profile over my best friend and bravest person I know Sarah Wilson: 


Sarah Wilson: Silence Survivor
            What was once a childhood ridden with silent conversations, blank stares and anxious thoughts is now a young adulthood dedicated to decreasing those silent conversations in others. Sarah Wilson, now a UNT sophomore, overcame a long struggle with a rare disorder called Selective Mutism (SM) to dedicate her life to helping children who struggle with the same condition.
            Selective Mutism is a “childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child or adolescent's inability to speak in one or more social settings,” according to the Selective Mutism Group website. “It affects one in 1,000 children.” Children affected by this disorder have the ability to speak and often do so at home environments, but do not speak in many social situations due to anxiety according to the site.
            Her petite physique reflected her soft-spoken ways as she sat down and told the difficult story of her childhood. She struggled with SM from the ages of three to 13 during which time she didn’t speak in social situations.
            Wilson started showing symptoms at the age of three and was officially diagnosed with SM at the age of 6 according to Wilson. She went to different therapists in hopes of overcoming the disorder, but did not have any results until she began seeing her middle school counselor.
            “My childhood wasn’t horrible. I just knew I was different. I wanted to interact like a normal kid but I couldn’t. It was so sad because kids thought I didn’t like them because I didn’t talk to them when all I wanted to do was be their friend,” said Wilson. “It was just frustrating because they didn’t understand.”
            After years of conversing with a school counselor and with the help of medication, Wilson overcame the disorder the summer before her freshman year of high school at the age of thirteen.
            “As I started to get over it I had more panic attacks because I didn’t have that shield of not talking anymore,” Wilson said. “That made it difficult to go to college and adjust, but I had to push through constant panic attacks to get to where I am now.”  
            The transition to college proved daunting, but was a necessary step for her future. By the time she was 11, Wilson knew she wanted to go into psychology and specialize in SM to help kids who struggle with the same disorder.
            “I think it’s brave, the dedication she has to psychology because of what she’s been through,” said Wilson’s best friend and UNT student Jessica Lovell. “It’s nice to see someone is so compassionate to other people and she wants to help others because she knows there are ways to cope with it.”
            Wilson is going to the annual Selective Mutism Group Conference in Orlando, Florida on October 27th. The conference features speeches and workshops from professionals in the field to help parents and children gain a better understanding of the disorder, according the SMG site.
            “I’m going to be with my mom on a panel called the Hear Our Voices panel and I’m going to talk about my experience with SM and my mom will talk about her perspective too,” said Wilson. “It will give the audience something to relate to and they will be able to ask questions.”
            In addition to comforting and informing families about SM Wilson will have the opportunity to network with professionals in the field at the conference and make connections for her future career. Some of the world’s leading experts in SM will be in attendance providing an ideal situation for Wilson to connect with them and learn from what they have to say.  
            “The best way to learn is from experience. There isn’t anyone better to learn about SM from than a person like Sarah,” said a long time friend of Wilson’s Cole Lumpp. “And she has a natural ability to help people.”
            “I feel like everything happens for a reason and it would have been pointless to go through all of it if I couldn’t help other kids who are going through it,” said Wilson. “I feel like it gave me a purpose.”

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