2009-10-15 / Local & State

Hustontown Boy Gets A Voice

Diagnosed with selective mutism, 8-year-old boy now speaks
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Having never uttered a word in public or in front of anyone besides his immediate family during the last six years, 8-year-old Ryan Fittry recently brought an end to the silence.

In 2005, Ryan, the son of Hustontown residents Jim and Janet Fittry, was diagnosed with selective mutism, a social anxiety disorder in which an individual is afraid to speak. Since that time, the Fittry family has secured plenty of support from the community while continuing their research to help shed some light on Ryan’s future.

According to mother Janet, her middle child had been prescribed a medicine earlier in the summer to reduce anxiety. A short time later, on August 8, Ryan spoke his very first words changing not only his world but that of his family.

Janet reports Ryan’s breakthrough startled the immediate family and his cousin Harley, who had never before heard his voice.

“I cannot put into words the excitement that happened at our house,” recalls Janet. “It’s amazing after all of the years of relating to Ryan nonverbally through the use of yes and no questions that you could actually ask him something and he would respond verbally.”

Ryan’s world immediately changed around him, said Janet, who noted Ryan’s third-grade classmates and teachers no longer look up for nods and pointing. “He surprised teachers, staff and classmates with a smile from ear to ear and a voice just as big,” she added. “ ... He is a new boy, alive and enjoying life in the verbal world.”

In spite of the breakthrough, the Fittry family intends to continue serving as advocates for selective mutism and “help others who have not yet crossed the bridge.”

In late 2008, the family raised $85 for “Rid the Silence” of selective mutism through the sale of whistles for a mere 25 cents. Come December, the Fittrys will renew their annual whistle sale at various locations within the community.

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