I have this wonderful son, and his name is Decca. Quite a unique name, but it fits him perfectly because in many ways he is unique. He loves music, the piano, making movies, doing math, and making people laugh.

He is defined by all these things. But he is also defined by many as the boy who does not talk. You see Decca has selective mutism, and he is so terrified by many situations that he deals with this anxiety by not talking.

His selective mutism was brought on by a very traumatic event. When he was four years old, I went away for a night, and even though I prepared him and family was with him, something happened. He woke up on the morning I was gone, and he couldn’t find me. He was scared and very frightened and, in his mind, he thought I had died. He stopped talking right then, and for six months he didn’t speak one word to anyone but the twins. My wonderful twins, who at seven, took on so much to help their little brother.

Needless to say, Decca was in therapy, mostly play therapy, for months, and it helped. He began talking to some family members and me, which made me so happy. But he couldn’t talk outside the home to anyone, not friends, not extended family members, and certainly not strangers.

Decca at four.

Along with his selective mutism, Decca stopped calling people by their names. He could no longer say his friends names, he stopped calling my parents Grandma and Grampa, he no longer referred to his Uncles, and he stopped calling me mom. It broke my heart, and I am sure it broke his heart too.

For over three years my son has not called me mom, but I never gave up hope that one day I would hear it again.

I tried so many things and nothing worked. Decca had his own way of referring to people though. Grandma and Grampa became Old Man and Old Lady (and it didn’t bother them). Uncle Jesse became “my movie maker” because they make movies together, and I was known as “the one I love the most”. It was very sweet.

Recently though Decca has begun using names. Not the same names he used before, but new names. First my brother Jesse, who has a special bond with Decca, taught him to call him Tío Chuy. I didn’t think it would work, but it did, and I saw a joy in Decca that I had not seen is a long time.

Decca with Tío Chuy

He then started referring to Grandma as Babushka. We use to go to a park where we would always see this wonderful lady and her grandson. She was Russian and her grandson would call her Babushka. I always remembered that, and I often will use that word. Decca began to use it a few weeks ago, and Grandma is now Babushka.

Decca with Babushka

Up until this week though, Decca still wasn’t calling me anything. Every name we tried sounded too much like mom (mater, ama, mere) and so he couldn’t use them. Then my step-dad told me that in German some people call their mothers mutti. I told Decca about this name, and he liked it. He was comfortable with it. And he uses it, all the time.

Decca and Mutti

The first day he started calling me mutti, he must have said it over a hundred times. I think he was in as much pain as I was, and he really wanted to call me mom. For the last week I have heard “I love you mutti” so many times to which I always respond by telling him “I love you too Decca”.

And I do, so much.

And he loves me, his mutti.

16 thoughts on “Decca

  1. He’s a happy little boy though and this can only be thanks to his mother, who informed herself about selective mutism and did everything she could to help him. She was and still is, patient and loving and encourages his siblings to be the same way.

  2. How wonderful! When I was in high school, I studied German and I started calling my mother, Mutti. It’s a great endearment. I had completely forgotten I had called her that. After she passed away, we went through lots of old papers and I found letters I had written her from college addressed to ‘dearest Mutti.’

    Go Decca!

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s just beautiful. I cannot imagine the pain all you you have endured. You have a lot to celebrate! We have a neighbor who has become our “2nd daughter” she is a selective mute as well. She does not talk to adults, only kids. I’m learning how to be patient with her. Your story encourages me just to keep caring for her and loving her. Maybe one day she will speak to us!

  4. I’m crying too, even though I had a child struggle with selective mutism, she could always talk at home to me, her mama. I think that would have broken my heart into a million little pieces. My daughter, for a time, stopped talking to family members too…grandma and grandpa and aunts on my side of the family, but talked fine with grandma and and aunt on husband’s side of the family. She spoke to no teachers and no friends.

    What a handsome little boy and a strong mama (you just have to be, right? I’ve been there too).

    Many blessings to you and Decca


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  10. Thank you for sharing this. After a traumatic event, my 7 year old daughter hasn’t spoken to anyone in 3 years. We have tried play therapy, and all the professionals we see don’t have a clue what to do.

    It’s great to hear things improved for Decca. And gives us hope that we might get there one day.


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