selective mutism

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by kayleebryn, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. kayleebryn

    kayleebryn Rookie

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    Sep 13, 2008

    Does anyone have any experience with selective mutism? I have a first grader that has not spoken in school since preschool, but CAN and DOES speak everywhere else!!! I am so stressed trying to get this child to speak and don't know what else to try! I've tried signing, yes no cards, whispering....nothing has worked yet!! Please HELP!!!!
     
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  3. michelleann27

    michelleann27 Cohort

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    Sep 13, 2008

    She might be the type that is nervous around children and adults. I think she will grow out of it. I had a set of twins last year in the 8th grade that refused to speak I never knew which one was which. When I called one of their names one came and got papers but didnt know which one she would take both of theirs. It was strange. Even when it came to essays they refused to read and the mother would turn in their papers and ask that I excempt them from reading it in the front of class. About halfway through the year I heard one of them speak by the consession stand. I run the concession and when i heard her I stepped outside and heard her again. I smiled at her and she smiled at me and said hey. I knew they would speak eventually but I just didn't know when ..

    The point is I let them speak when they were ready. After that they talked but not in class. It was Awesome.
    I wish I knew what advice to give you.. with one being so young.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 13, 2008

    My son didn't speak aloud in his classroom until late in grade 2. Because of caring, compassionate teachers, he finally became comfortable enough to begin to express himself orally at school. I would suggest being patient, trying to force your student to work is only going to cause more stress. You will need to be creative about assessment and evaluation (and please, don't be like my son's grade 1 teacher who told me that there was no way he could be evaluated on anything if he wouldn't speak!). I would also suggest sitting down with the parents to discuss your concerns and to ask for their suggestions.
     
  5. hpatty55

    hpatty55 Rookie

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    Sep 15, 2008

    I dealt with this when I student taught in a second grade room. She would shake her head in response sometimes but that was about it. Sometimes she would tell her friend in the class something and then the friend would come tell us. We just tried to help her the best we could and kept in communication with the parents about how she was doing.
    My cousin was also mute her kindergarten year and they worked out a reward system everytime she spoke to the teacher she got a sticker, so many stickers equaled a prize of some sort.
    Best of luck...I know its frustrating!
     
  6. SaraFirst

    SaraFirst Cohort

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    Sep 15, 2008

    We had a similar student when I student taught in first grade. He worked with the speech/language pathologist. The parent worked well with the teacher. He had a good friend in the class who he would whisper too. Usually he would just nod to the teachers. Eventually he started whispering things to us. It was so exciting! I would say just try to be patient and hopefully as the child becomes more comfortable he/she may begin to speak.
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    Sep 15, 2008

    Kaylee,
    If she has selective mutism, she isn't just refusing to talk. She is controling her world by refusing to communicate, except on her own terms. That's why the "yes no" cards aren't working. It is her way of controling her world. She must need this control. Please don't push her. Let her be. The worst thing you can do for selective mutism is try to get the child to talk or to communicate. The more you try, the worse it gets -- the more out-of-control her world feels to her, and she will try to gain more control by communicating even less.

    Selective mutism is a hard thing to understand -- especially when you know they speak outside of the class setting.

    Stop stressing, and PLEASE stop trying to get this child to speak! Accept her as she is, do what you can for her, and with time, she will speak.

    One other thing you need to realize -- she probably won't overcome this during your year with her as a teacher -- so please don't get your hopes up that "you" will be the one to get through to her. You will just be disappointed, and she will sense that disappointment. Selective mutes generally don't start speaking until around 2nd or 3rd grade, and only then if they have had incredibly supportive teachers.



    Ways to help:
    If you have to have timed reading passages, teach her mother how to tape record the child reading at home. (Don't tell the child YOU will be listening to them, or she'll refuse to do them -- just have the mother do this home.) You can get your reading info from this. Don't ever play these tapes in the child's presence. If you do, she'll shut down even further. If she won't even do the tapes, teach her mother how to do a running record, and use that score as a guide to the child's reading ability.

    You can watch the child at the library and see what books she self-selects. You'll be able to notice if she is looking at the pictures only, or seems to be following the words. (Watch for the left to right eve movement that indicates reading.) This can give you some idea what level books she can read. It isn't perfect, but it is a starting place.

    If you need her to do something, give her an action to perform. "Lulu, if you are ready for gym class, please line up now." "Lulu, if you need to go to the nurse, pick a friend to walk with you." "Lulu, if you need to go to the library, go get your library card now." You'll find a lot more success with this than with "yes no" cards.

    Don't let other teachers try to get her to talk. (Print out articles about selective mutism to back you up.) Don't let them bribe her! (I'll give you a candy if you say "yes.") It won't work! And every time it happens, it will cause a set back and make things worse.

    I"ve been blessed for 4 selective mutes in my career. Three of them eventually started speaking. (One in 2nd grade, one in 3rd grade, one in 1st grade) One of them never did, and is in HIGH SCHOOL and still not speaking in school.

    I hope this helps.
     
  8. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    Sep 15, 2008

  9. SarahJ

    SarahJ Companion

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    Sep 15, 2008

    I was a selective mute at school. I am a naturally quiet person and was avery shy child. I changed schools half-way through the school year when I was 9 (Grade 4). I refused to talk for the remainer of the year. In Grade 5 I started talking a little bit, but only in a very quiet voice and only when ABSOLUTELY neccessary and usually only to one person. I had an AWESOME teacher that year who got me to talk in class and I actually did an oral presentation (very quietly though), but by the end of Grade 7 I as quiet again and for my high school career (Grade 8 - 12) I didn't do another oral presentaion until I was in Grade 12 and was finally comfortable in myself. I could ALWAYS speak to adults if I had to though...it was kids who scared me...but I just made it that I didn't speak to ANYONE. I still don't speak unless I have to, but funnily enough, I'm fine in front of the class.

    We have a very shy little girl in our class this year. She whispers. I totally understand where she is coming from. She is confident with her peers and her family and talks to them so I know its not a HUGE issue and I encourage her when she is talking (like during news time) but I don't force the issue.

    I would suggest that you don't stress it. Whatever you do don't punish her for not talking (it will become worse), don't force her to do it (she won't and will become mroe defiant). Just encourage her participation, let her know that you're happy if she whispers in your ear or a friends ear or writes it down until she is comfortable to talk. Once she realises that no-one is watching her or waiting in anticipation of her talking, she will slowly start to talk. And when she does, don't make a big fuss! I know someone did that to me and I regressed horribly. Just accpet it as if it is totally normal and make a note of it in your record book.
     
  10. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Sep 17, 2008

    I had a girl in my class that was a selective mute. She would talk to students and eventually through the year would speak to me one on one. She still is a very silent person most of the time. My impression with her was it was her grasp of personal power. I let her be her silent self and about halfway through the year she started participating every once in a while in class.
     

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