Selective mutism

Discussion in 'General Education' started by John Lee, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2009
    Messages:
    1,476
    Likes Received:
    58

    Dec 2, 2015

    Any experience with a student with? Have a parent-teacher conference this week, and obviously interested in ways to get something out of elementary age student with said condition. She has friends at school, and (we use edmodo) she regularly contributes online, asks me questions, etc. But at school, I get nothing. Anyone have any success they've seen?
     
  2.  
  3. cupcakequeen

    cupcakequeen Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2014
    Messages:
    276
    Likes Received:
    63

    Dec 3, 2015

    I know one of the students in a class I do inclusion in used to be selectively mute. She didn't talk at school (to anyone except her sister, and even then rarely) from kindergarten until 2nd grade but talked fairly normally at home. English is the student's second language, so it took awhile to figure out if it was a lack of English proficiency or not. She saw a therapist one-on-one for several years, and I don't think they were ever able to determine if something major had happened, if she had severe anxiety, or something else. She did (and still does) see one of our SLPs several times a week for services, and I think that's helped a lot- the services themselves and the fact that she has really connected with the SLP and feels comfortable talking to her.

    Now she's not what you would call a chatterbox, but she's a pretty typical kid from a social standpoint. How old is your student? Does she talk to anyone at school?
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    14,047
    Likes Received:
    1,864

    Dec 3, 2015

    My son was never officially diagnosed, but was a selective mute at school until part way through Grade 3. For him, it seemed to be a combination of severe shyness and some anxiety. He had stunningly wonderful teachers in kindergarten, Grades 2 and 3 (his Grade 1 teacher did more harm than good) who accepted him as he was. He was always seated beside one of the 2 friends he would whisper to at school, and teachers were willing to be creative about assessment--taking the pressure of oral assessments off of the table. Grade 3 was a turn around year for him, although he remained very quiet throughout high school. My students are coming in now, but I'll come back later with more detail.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  5. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,565
    Likes Received:
    744

    Dec 3, 2015

    I have a student who is selectively mute, and also has dysgraphia. He is on the autism spectrum. He has certain topics that get him interested and then he can speak highly eloquently on those subjects, and then go back to not talking for days. I got him to write one paragraph, once, and it was about how the one thing he would want on a desert island was his complete annotated works of H. P. Lovecraft. The kid is brilliant, but he won't write, talk, or type his ideas. I've tried everything and gotten pretty much nothing. It must be incredibly frustrating for someone to be unable to express themselves. It certainly is frustrating as a teacher to witness it!
     
  6. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,565
    Likes Received:
    744

    Dec 3, 2015

    I should add that his counselor thought I was a wizard for getting him to write that one paragraph...This student is now refusing to come to school and I hope a better solution is found for him.
     
  7. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2009
    Messages:
    1,476
    Likes Received:
    58

    Dec 3, 2015

    She is a 10-year old. She has her share of friends, and the kids in the class all don't seem to single her out for her condition. While she has those friends, I never really see her talking to her friends... its like they do the talking, and she's just kinda there. She isn't unhappy in those interactions, or with her interactions at school... but she is stoic. All I get from her is nods, an occasional muted yes or no, and that's it.

    I want to be able to give some sort of feedback to the parent for conferences, and speak intelligently upon how I might like to help her in this regard... but TBH, I'm at a loss as to how to proceed.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,958
    Likes Received:
    2,110

    Dec 3, 2015

    I've had two SM students...the one whohad the most success was in my class two years in a row as I moved from one grade to the next and she remained on my class lst....it was very difficult to assess her in reading, speaking. Language kinds of things. Just be patient...she moved from not speaking to lip speaking to barely audible whispering to the point where I convinced her I believed in her and asked her if she was brave enough to record her reading when no one was in the room...she agreed. And when I came back in the room I wept to hear her voice finally. And a few days later she agreed to let me play the recording to my class who were so lovely and gave her such positive feedback. ....such breakthroughs might not Occur in one years time...or two...or three or 4.... Just be patient and reassuring and find other ways to assess learning...your supprt will eventually pay off. Even if it's not when the student is yours, but years later....understand ths stems from anxiety and other issues...be empathic and compassionate...isn't easy locking all that inside.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015
  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    Dec 4, 2015

    I have had students with SM. I was able to get one of the students to completely drop it. At the start of the year she would only talk to 1-2 people in whispers in private, by the end of the year she was raising her hand and participating in class as though she never had the issue.

    What I found to work was classroom culture and environment. the students were very nice and supportive of each other. I sat her with the student she would whisper to in private. After a few months, when I knew she was comfortable in class I started working on her SM. I would have her go outside the classroom with her friend and read aloud with her friend whispering alone. I would check with the other student to make sure she was whispering her reading out loud. Slowly I had another group of students reading outside, but farthur away from her, I kept moving students closer and closer to her while she was reading. After time, I would be standing behind her while she was reading aloud, then I would have other students walk and stand behind her while she read...I continued along these lines until she would raise her hand and participate in class. By the end of the year, the issue was completely gone.
     
  10. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2015
    Messages:
    1,245
    Likes Received:
    434

    Dec 4, 2015

    I was unofficially a selective mute in elementary school due to shyness & anxiety. From Kindergarten through 5th Grade or so.
    I NEVER talked to teachers or other adults in a school setting (talked a lot at home / outside of school), but I did talk to other kids & surprisingly had many friends. I saw a therapist & psychologist & I don't know who else, and none of it helped. When I got to 6th Grade / middle school, they "left me alone" (or so I thought) and since it seemed like they "forgot" about me, it made me more comfortable and I started talking more in school.
    I "grew out of it" through middle school & high school.
    I didn't even know until I was an adult that I had an IEP throughout elementary school or that my dad went to so many parent-teacher conferences/meetings about me. I had no idea!
    I know every kid is different, but what helped me was everyone leaving me alone (no special services) and treating me the same as every other kid in my class(es)
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  11. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2009
    Messages:
    1,476
    Likes Received:
    58

    Dec 6, 2015

    Interesting story ChildWhisperer. Sounds like this student. All the girls in my class are friends with her, but I don't know why since she doesn't talk! (Not being harsh... just don't get how these girls would relate to her since she doesn't communicate at all when I see them.)

    Been using the leave-her-alone philosophy in large part.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,958
    Likes Received:
    2,110

    Dec 6, 2015

    Not sure what grade you teach, JL, but if your girls have beem in school for a few years with your SM kiddo, they are probably used to her not speaking aloud. My student used to quietly quietly whisper to her friends, had play dates, spoke at home...
    I'm not sure what 'leave her alone' entails , but you do want that student to know you believe in her and set up ways to communicate-post it notes, hand signals, she whispers to a trusted friend who acts as a spokesperson....
     
  13. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,152
    Likes Received:
    1,752

    Dec 6, 2015

    I worked with a young kid in an after school program that had selective mutism. He had been sexually abused. He whispered to his sister and that was it. I made an effort to include him - he still wanted to play and be involved - and I think by the end of my time there he was talking to me a little bit.
     
  14. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Messages:
    2,019
    Likes Received:
    154

    Dec 7, 2015

    I have a student who isn't mute per say but does have severe shyness and anxiety. In the beginning I didn't really have a clue as to what to do with her. I have learned her facial expressions now and I can tell when she doesn't want to answer the questions. Sometimes I give her a choice of which one to answer, other times I wait for her to answer, especially if her expression says I am just processing my answer. She will ask to do things around the room such as bathroom or tissues. But if she has a problem with another student she will tell Mom and then Mom has to text me. Although the other day she did finally tell me another student was bothering her. She is beginning to come out of her shell and I am so happy. Now if I could just catch her up academically.
     
  15. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    841

    Dec 7, 2015

    The above posts are encouraging, that teachers today are realizing that all students (and teachers) have some kind of difference in ability; some differences are more noticeable or more life altering than others, but everyone is a person with a difference in ability. The main focus should be on the person, in this case, focusing on how this student is being included as part of the classroom society, (which of course, is what is being done), and that is more therapeutic and beneficial than any doctor or medicine. I didn't have SM, but I did have a bacterial infection that caused a type of chorea when I was 12, and friends and teachers (and my parents) who treated me as a person, and not the poor little boy who grunts and twitches, were very important to my recovery. In other words, there was more to me than weird sounds and not sitting still.
     
  16. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2015
    Messages:
    1,245
    Likes Received:
    434

    Dec 7, 2015

    She could be pretty sneaky, like I was :) I talked to the other kids, but NEVER in front of my teacher/adults. You could secretly observe her during lunch/recess and see how she interacts with others. Don't let her see you though. Wow, I"m having so many flashbacks from my younger days!
     
  17. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

    Joined:
    May 13, 2004
    Messages:
    5,872
    Likes Received:
    158

    Dec 8, 2015

    Having just finished my grad degree in Speech-Language Pathology, I've touched on this topic & took an in-service on it & it's mainly a psychological issue. I personally have only worked with one child who was in pre-school. The thing is that no one can persuade or push the individual to talk, they just have to finally start on their own. The people in that child's life can pretty much only make them feel very supported and nurtured, so that one day, they are hopefully comfortable enough to talk &/or finally start talking in the settings in which they didn't used to since selective mutes may talk in certain settings, but never others.

    It's a very interesting topic though, but rather rare. I'd love to someday do more research on it.
     
  18. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2015
    Messages:
    1,245
    Likes Received:
    434

    Dec 8, 2015

    Yes.
    The more people/teachers pushed me to talk, the less I actually wanted to. That's why I only started talking in school when I got to Jr High because no one bothered me about it anymore.
    They might not talk in school, but they might be a chatterbox at home. You never know.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Missy
Total: 312 (members: 1, guests: 287, robots: 24)
test