Student is selective mute

Discussion in 'General Education' started by PalmdaleMark, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. PalmdaleMark

    PalmdaleMark Rookie

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    Hello, I am a new Special Ed teacher and one of my students is a selective mute. I have tried a number of strategies (picture cards, fantasy role play, etc.) to get her to speak with no success. Does anyone have some ideas they've heard of or have worked for them? Thank you so much!

    Mark
     
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  3. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Jan 28, 2017

    When you say "selective mute," does this mean that sometimes she does speak? Sorry not familiar with this term. If she does sometimes speak, has anyone kept record of when she speaks and what she does? (this might be telling?) sorry if I'm way off track, I'm not sped teacher, but find that student's idea of importance with their communication matters. Is she primary or high school?
     
  4. PalmdaleMark

    PalmdaleMark Rookie

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    She speaks at home, but nowhere else according to mom. She is a 1st grade special ed student. I have seen a recording of her speaking at home and she is quite articulate, and has a good sense of humor. Thank you for your help!
     
  5. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    Jan 28, 2017

    I had a student who was a selective mute when I taught kindergarten. I just kept talking to her and let her nod her yes and nos. I just kept pretending she could talk. I was as sweet as sugar. And by the end of the year she started talking. But there wasn't really an expectation like they have in first grade to read aloud etc.
     
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  6. PalmdaleMark

    PalmdaleMark Rookie

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    I too have no expectations, and have a great relationship with my kiddo. Hopefully, she'll be speaking at the end of the year as well...
     
  7. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Jan 28, 2017

    I had a selective mute a couple of years ago and would agree with the pp. Have no expectations for them responding to you. Just make them feel comfortable. You will be amazed when they eventually do start talking. My little one was a boy. When we first heard him talk, his voice was so deep that it surprised us all!
     
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  8. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    I feel you need to change your mindset and perhaps do some research on selective mutism. They don't CHOOSE not to speak: it is a manifestation of anxiety and they are unable to bring themselves to do so until/unless they are very comfortable, and sometimes not even then. Stop trying to get her to speak!

    I've have had children with selective mutism in the past. My job, in my opinion, was NOT to get them to talk to me (verbally) but to provide accommodations to allow them to communicate what they needed to say. For example, yes/no head shakes, a bathroom hand sign, whispering to a trusted close friend who can then repeat to me, pointing to/writing answers rather than speaking aloud.

    Some of them never did speak aloud. And that's ok.

    ETA: her IEP probably has accommodations and modifications listed for her selective mutism. If it does not, then it's your job to call an IEP meeting to discuss adding them.
     
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  9. PalmdaleMark

    PalmdaleMark Rookie

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    My little girl does speak at home; we've seen a recording made by mom. It will be great hearing her in class: hopefully that day will come soon. Thanks doc!
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 28, 2017

    I had a selective mute student years ago. She looped with me as I changed grade levels the next year. The second year she let me set up the computer to record her reading for an assessment and the rest of us left the room. I cried when I came back to the room and heard her voice. She let me play it for the other students who told her she was so brave...it takes time, trust and patience. It might not be this year that she speaks in class...it's no reflection on you if she doesn't talk. Just be supportive.
     
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  11. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Jan 28, 2017

    She speaks at home because she does not manifest anxiety in that setting/with those people. This is extremely common among people with this disability. As I said, it's not a choice or inability to speak at all. It's an anxiety disorder. Your pushing her will possibly make it worse.
     
  12. PalmdaleMark

    PalmdaleMark Rookie

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    Hi Gemstone,
    I try to get her to communicate in a very low key, unobtrusive way. As I said before, I have no expectations. She is given tools to communicate and if she chooses to use them, fine. I appreciate your expertise however, and will take care to never make her feel compelled to communicate via speaking.
     
  13. PalmdaleMark

    PalmdaleMark Rookie

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    Hi CZACZA,
    It will be an emotional moment for both me and my aide if my little girl speaks. We shall see...
     
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  14. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Great! As long as she is given the tools to communicate and access the curriculum, without expectation that she speaks verbally, then you are doing a great job.
     
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  15. PalmdaleMark

    PalmdaleMark Rookie

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    Hi Gemstone,
    Thanks again for taking the time to share your expertise with me. I appreciate your help!

    Mark
     
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  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jan 29, 2017

    My son was a selective mute--he didn't speak at school until the end of grade 2. His kindergarten teacher was a saint; he was included in everything and she didn't sweat the fact that he didn't talk. His grade 1 teacher pushed him, almost daily, to speak and lamented the fact that she was unable to evaluate him if he wouldn't speak to her (thankfully, she went out on leave for close to half the year so she couldn't do too much damage). The had the same teacher for grades 2 and 3; like his K teacher, she was kind and supportive, offering lots of opportunities for him to speak, but never pushing. He started with whispering, then into using a very quiet voice. He remained very quiet and shy all through elementary school.

    Funny story--the first time the librarian heard him speak, she was reading a book about dinosaurs to a kindergarten class and my son was working at a computer in the library, she was struggling over pronouncing "archaeopteryx" until my son's voice said it loud and clear! She reminded me of that story for years!
     
  17. PalmdaleMark

    PalmdaleMark Rookie

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    MrsC,
    A funny story from my little girl's mom... Tuesday is "Taco Tuesday", and she looks forward to dinner on those evenings. On one Tuesday, some of her mom's friends were over, ladies she often sees in her home. She had never spoken around these women. On this evening, however, mom says she opened the door to her room, came out, and announced to her mom's friends that "The only reason you're here is because it's Taco Tuesday". She then went back into her room and closed the door.
    This little girl has such a great sense of humor - I'll never forget this endearing vignette.
     
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  18. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Jan 29, 2017

    I was a selective mute when I was young (although at the time, I didn't know this. I didn't even know I had an IEP until a couple years ago, when my dad pulled out all our old school papers for us to look through!)
    I spoke at home and spoke to the other kids, but never to the teachers or other adults.
    They had me see the school psychologist once a week in 1st Grade, but other than that, nobody forced me to talk. I wasn't put in a special ed class. My teachers didn't treat me any differently.
    I did talk in 2nd Grade (But not in K or 1st (I loved my 2nd Grade teacher!)), and when that year was over, I went back to my no-talking mode in 3rd grade. I started talking a little more when I got to Jr High because my kid self didn't know my records followed me to all the schools and I figured those teachers didn't know :D I slowly talked more and more throughout Jr High and high school, but only when I was spoken to first. I never raised my hand or volunteered answers.
    Even in college, if I knew I had to talk, my heart would start pounding.
    I'm still shy in certain situations but I'm definitely more outgoing.
    And now I'm a teacher. How about that.
     
  19. PalmdaleMark

    PalmdaleMark Rookie

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    ChildWhisperer.
    Your trials and ultimate success are events I'll remember when working with my kiddo. Thanks!
     
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  20. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Jan 29, 2017

    When I taught grade 1, one year there was a little girl in my class who was a selective mute. She didn't speak for the first 4 months of grade 1 and after that her speech was still very sporadic. She had suffered incredible trauma in her short life. Like so many have already said, I didn't require her to speak, gave her ample ways to communicate if she desired and eventually she did begin to speak occasionally in the classroom. When I looped to grade 2 with that class, we started right back at square one in September with absolutely no speaking, but by the end of the year she was quite chatty in small groups with her peers. We could not understand what she was saying a lot of the time, but she was finally willing to participate in speech therapy. She moved away at the end of grade 2, so I have no idea how she is doing now... would love to know!!
     

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