By  on October 14, 2010

Some kids are shy, and then there are those who are pathologically self-conscious.

“At home, she was a chatterbox,” said Debbie Perelman, speaking about her daughter, Maia. But outside the house, “Maia was frozen. She couldn’t interact with anybody. She wouldn’t speak at school. Worst of all, she couldn’t interact with other children in the park or at birthday parties. It was painfully hard for her.”

Perelman discussed her daughter’s disorder, known as “selective mutism,” and how the Brave Buddies program at the Child Mind Institute helped Maia open up, at a Bloomingdale’s luncheon on the designer selling floor Tuesdaybenefitting CMI. Perelman, vice chairman of CMI, said Maia improved so much so that she played Jack in “Jack and the Beanstalk” in her school play.

CMI’s mission is to transform mental health for children, enable them to reach their full potential and enlighten families about child psychiatric disorders. “There are 15 million kids in the U.S. who have a psychiatric disorder, and less than half get help,” said Dr. Harold Koplewicz, president of CMI. While CMI treats a range of mental disorders in children, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity, selective mutism became the afternoon’s focus. “Left untreated, in teens it’s likely to lead to alcoholism,” said Koplewicz.

Among those at the luncheon were Kate Spade, Nicole Miller, Fe Fendi, Shoshanna Gruss, Gail Pisano, Bloomingdale’s executives Michael Gould, Frank Doroff, Jack Hruska and Anne Keating, and Brooke Garber Neidich, chairman of the CMI board, whose sons, Jon and Stephen, both have ADD. “Bloomingdale’s support gives us a lot more credibility,” Neidich noted. The event drew a crowd of 155 andraised almost $100,000 for CMI through ticket sales, raffles and by donating 10 percent of certain purchases from Oct. 8-12.

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