Author Clair gives voice to mutism in her picture book

A FRIEND of her daughter's who has selective mutism inspired author Clair Maskell to write a children's book.

Tuesday, 10th October 2017, 7:14 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:14 am
Author Clair Maskell with daughters Caitlyn and Emily Picture: Neil Marshall (171166-2)

She created the picture book The Loudest Roar.

It tells the tale of a lion called Angus whose roar sometimes doesn’t work.

The aim is to explain selective mutism in a way that children can easily understand.

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Clair said that meeting Evie and her mum Nikki taught her more about the condition, and with their support, she decided to write the book to raise awareness.

Clair spoke about her inspiration for the book.

‘I saw the struggles Evie was having being a selective mute.

‘There is sometimes not a great level of understanding with both teachers and children, and teachers sometimes struggle to explain it to their pupils. I wanted to explain in a language children can understand.’

Selective mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder which causes children to have difficulty speaking and communicating in some social settings, for example school.

Nikki added: ‘While she’s at home she’s a livewire but in school Evie can’t even cry if she hurts herself.’

She said that although this does make school difficult for her, Evie’s friends have learned to understand her condition, and support her as much as possible.

Clair, of Cardinal Way in Locks Heath, hopes her book can help other children do the same. She added: ‘It’s amazing really, that as well as a book can teach a child, that children can identify with the main character. I’ve had children read it and say “wow, Angus is just like me”.

‘It feels good that I’m helping.’

Since it’s release in June, The Loudest Roar has been far more successful thanClair imagined.

It has been read in schools and nurseries in the UK and also in Canada, the US and Australia, where it has been listed on a western Australian special needs library catalogue.

A school in Birmingham has bought a copy for every class to teach children about the issue.

October is National Selective Mutism Awareness Month.