Shelley teen getting treatment for rare and debilitating anxiety disorder
SHELLEY – A local girl is learning to cope with a rare and debilitating anxiety disorder that affects her voice.
Annika Wittwer, 17, was diagnosed with Selective Mutism when she was around 8-years-old. Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder that prevents a person from speaking in situations where they feel uncomfortable. The disorder has progressively gotten worse over the years to where Annika can barely converse with her family members.
Selective Mutism is not a developmental disorder. According to Annika’s parents, Jacqueline and Eric Wittwer, she is very talented and intelligent, she is simply unable to “push the play button” on her voice.
According to Annika’s doctor, Dr. Shelley Avny a clinical psychologist at Kurtz Psychology Consulting in New York, Selective Mutism is treatable. However, it becomes more difficult the longer a person goes without treatment.
Recently, Annika’s parents made the expensive trip to New York so, Annika could undergo intensive treatment at Kurtz Psychology.
The treatment is a long process involving small steps to help the person with Selective Mutism become more comfortable with speaking in anxiety-provoking situations.
A GoFundMe campaign set up to help pay for Annika’s treatment has raised $4,595.
Though her parents acknowledge the considerable cost of her treatment, they wish only do whatever they can do to help their daughter.