Selective Mutism

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by MissSherry, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. MissSherry

    MissSherry Rookie

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    Sep 6, 2007

    Ok, so today was my first day of school...yikes grade one is hard...anyway thats a whole other story. I found out last night that one of the children in my class was a seletively mute child. I had no idea what that really meant until today when she never said a word. Her record says she spoke to the kids in kindergarten sometimes but not one word to her teacher. This scares me. I mentioned it to my administrative team and resource teacher and they blew it off "mom needs to take responsibility" "fix it" "dont give it any attention" i am extremely frustrated and think this is more serious than everyone else. Its only the first day and perhaps she may warm up to me but in the meantime what should I do????
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Sep 6, 2007

    I would talk to mom about what steps you can take to get the child to open up. You could also ask her how best to approach the child.
     
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Sep 6, 2007

    Is this public school? How can they just blow this off? It is a real and serious condition.
     
  5. Amanda

    Amanda Administrator Staff Member

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  6. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Sep 6, 2007

    The following is the website of an excellent organization which suppiorts people with selective autism.

    http://www.selectivemutism.org/

    They do conferences for teachers and parents, and there is a lot of useful information on the website to help you educate yourself. I went to a conference a few years ago because I had a student with selective mutism. If she is truly selective mutism and not shyness it is considered an anxiety disorder and there are specific techniques you can use. Try the website and I may be able to find more info. I got at the conference if you need more. These children suffer a lot for many reasons. Some are afraid of making any noise at all in public - even coughs and sneezes. Some techniques I remember include not looking at the child directly - kind of at an angle. Talk indirectly - to the class, the air or whatever. Don't force any interactions.

    Good luck - my student would whisper to me by the end of the year. She wanted to talk directly in my ear and we worked on getting further and further away, therefore louder. She was much quicker talking to adults than children.
     
  7. MissSherry

    MissSherry Rookie

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    Sep 6, 2007

    Thank you all so much for your replies. I will definitely use the sites...they are all bookmarked and Ive printed a few pages to look over. When I first got home today I was really frustrated about the reaction from the school and then I realized it is probably just that they have not had this type of situation before and are just not educated on the issue. For the next few days I am going to track things I notice about her and I have already talked to Mom today. Mom is lost, she doesn't understand. I assured her I will do what I can to set in motion the proper steps we need to take. We both agreed to stay in close contact and work together on this issue. I will approach my principal again tomorrow in a more formal setting and request the names of those who provide the support we will need. Thanks again!
     
  8. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Sep 6, 2007

    When I had a similar child, I had her come into my classroom one or more mornings a week about 15 minutes before school started in order to play games together and make her feel more comfortable. It seemed to work and she started to whisper to me which was quite a feat...
     
  9. flowerpower31

    flowerpower31 Comrade

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    Sep 6, 2007

    when I was student teaching in first grade we had a girl who did this. She was loud and talkative and even bossy with the other kids. But when it came to adults, the ONLY one she would talk to was her mom. Not even her own father, whom she lived with! It was VERY difficult to get oral assessment things done with her. We would have to ask her a couple times before she finally said anything and, when she finally did, you had to practically have your ear in her mouth to hear what she said. It was so bad that when we would do lunch count in the morning (the kids had choices for what they wanted for hot lunch every day), the kids would all line up to pay and to let us know what they wanted and when it was her turn, she would just look at us. The teacher had to force it out of her.
     
  10. BASAM

    BASAM Comrade

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    Sep 6, 2007

    I have experience on both a professional and personal level with this issue..........my neice was "diagnosed" as a selective mute in kindergarten (she never spoke a word to students or teacher in pre school) in kindergarten she would whisper to a select few kids but even that was rare. In first grade her teacher had no idea if she could read so I recorded her so that he could actually hear her. I became her teacher in second and third grade and principal figured it would be a good fit because of the fact that we had a pre-existing relationship so I could push her beyond normal boundaries and not have to worry and damaging any boundries of trust or being comfortable. It became a game of waiting her out and unfourtanetly had to make her cry really bad one day because she was on the spot but she read a few sentences out loud and continued to take bigger steps all year long but even now as she is in 5th grade she is still is very quiet but at this point I think she is aware of what she does and it has become a control thing for her. Anyway from what the experts that my neice saw they all say the same thing...........just ler her be she will do what she wants when she feels safe and comfortable. I would set small goals and continue to build on them with the first thing being the creation of a realtionship with you so she does feel safe.
     
  11. SmartCookie

    SmartCookie Comrade

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    Sep 9, 2007

    I had a student last year that was a selective mute. She was provided speech and language services and was given an IEP with specifc goals. I figured that this sweet little girl needed a bad boy in her life. When I say bad boy I mean the kind of boy that is charismatic, energetic, and a cutie. I think that all girls have a weak spot for this type of boy. He was always interacting with her and she really developed and this year she speaks a lot more.
     
  12. hope037

    hope037 Rookie

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    Sep 10, 2007

    I also had a selective mute in my class last year. She was older (fifth grade) but here is what I learned from working with her:

    Her muteness does not impair her ability to learn. In fact, she listened so well, she was a great student.

    Her muteness increased with her anxiety. Do not pressure her to talk or call attention to the fact that she doesn't speak or needs to respond, etc. Do not expect her to respond.

    Do pair her with more outgoing friends as smartcookie stated. Boy or girl.

    Teach sign language to the whole class when possible...just for enrichment...or even for a classroom procedure. A Rick Morris training said to teach specific hand signals so students can signal you without talking when they need to go to the bathroom, need a pencil, for example.

    Let her use a whiteboard or slips of paper to communicate.

    Focus on the rest of the core goals and objectives. Speaking skills are only a small part of them.

    Just enjoy the student. She will absorb learning like a sponge!
     
  13. MissSherry

    MissSherry Rookie

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    Sep 11, 2007

    I am relieved to realize how much common sense I actually have when dealing with this little lady. I have not once called on her to speak, drawn attention to her non verbal communication nor have I expected her to speak. I have noticed her listening is incredible, she gestures, has a pleasant demeanor and I noticed yesterday when I was doing a listen and repeat with the class that she was repeating out loud. I could hear her voice it was great. I did not make eye contact with her while she was doing it because I dont want to scare her. I talked to her about signals for the washroom and we agreed on two fingers meaning washroom one finger meaning drink. I wish she was older and could write more to communicate needs because that would be very helpful. I have partnered her with a very outgoing girl and they seem to be getting along great.

    Today after school mom called and wanted to know if i thought telling her that if she didn't start talking she would lose her computer privledges was a good idea. I told her it would be counter productive to start uttering threats because my goal at the moment is to create a non-threatening environment for her where she does not feel pressured to speak. I suggested a few websites to mom because I was getting the impression that no one has ever explained to her that this is a real thing, she is not being a brat, this is a real thing that many parents experience. I suggested we work together on this and that if possible I'd like to keep her an extra couple days after school just for some one on one time. She seemed ok with that idea too. Im thinking right now its best to educate myself and mom and decide on a plan to put in place. Unfortunately I am not getting anyone's attention from the administration or resource end of things......:confused: I emailed our school counsellor who is in two days a week I requested a meeting the first day she visits our school. Hopefully I get some more support other than "fix her" or "don't give attention to that sort of behavior" because this little girl needs something and at the moment shes not getting it.

    Thanks for listening, I really appreciate having a place to vent and a place to recieve real feedback and support!
     
  14. hope037

    hope037 Rookie

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    Sep 11, 2007

    You are doing the right things instinctively. That's a natural teacher! :)

    The families tend to get frustrated and apply pressure. It only worsens the problem. :(
     
  15. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 12, 2007

    It sounds as though you are giving her much of what she needs; she is a happy participant in your classroom.
     
  16. TeachtheWorld

    TeachtheWorld Companion

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    Sep 18, 2007

    Wow. I have a student just like yours in my room. She talked out loud in Head Start, but since Kindergarten, she has refused to talk. She volunteers to answer questions, but must come and whisper to me. I have had her move further and further from my ear, but now when I tell her to speak louder, she just shuts down. I can't test her. She refuses to read aloud to me. I even tried to do the testing when she was the only person in the room, but still she refused. Mom says that it is a control issue and that she talks to everyone else. I'm not sure what to do, especially since I can't get her to do her work.
     
  17. asiltropwen

    asiltropwen Rookie

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    Sep 19, 2007

    first grade teacher...former tss worker

    i was in social work and worked with girl with selective mutism. i use to just talk to her and not act as if it were strange that she wasnt talking back. The sooner you earn their trust and make them feel as safe as you possibly can in a classroom situation the better.
     
  18. TeachtheWorld

    TeachtheWorld Companion

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    Oct 4, 2007

    We tried something new with mine today. She will not read to me or to her peers. So, we have set up a tape recorder in the room next door. Each morning, during familiar reading time, she is going to go in that room (alone) and record herself reading from a book that she got during her small group time. Then I can listen to that tape and be able to hear that she is where she needs to be. I didn't expect this to work, but when we practiced this today it did. After we left her in that room for about 3 minutes, we let her go back to our room. I then turned the tape player all the way up and I could hear her. I immediately started crying! :) It was awesome to hear her little voice. The principal and I talked to her about how important this was for me to be able to know that she is learning. She said (whispered) to me that she understood and she agreed to try it. Whew! Progress! :)
     
  19. cdorey13

    cdorey13 Rookie

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    Oct 5, 2007

    I also had a selective mute student. I will not lie, I thought I was going to be the one to get her to talk and man did I TRY!! EVERYTHING! The parents had her in therapy and everything and the mom kept telling me, "The Dr. says she is stubborn." She could read, write, do everything at grade level but I NEVER HEARD a word from her. I would always offer her the opportunity to speak and she would shake her head no but she would always give me hugs at the end of the day. She would only talk to her parents, no other family. It is a strange thing (to me, because I am a chatter box) but I think it is most important to do what the family wants you to do.
     
  20. TeachtheWorld

    TeachtheWorld Companion

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    Oct 9, 2007

    Well...we thought we had made progress. For the last 3 days, this student has either been absent or tardy during reading time. :(
     

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