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Student with selective mutism HELP!!

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Student with selective mutism HELP!!

Postby Iteach2nd » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:34 pm

I have a 7 year old little girl in my class that i believe has selective mutism. Her sibling dropped her off in my class and told me she was bashful and wouldn't talk and that she wouldn't eat at school. She will not communicate at all...no head nods, nothing. She doesn't eat, get drinks from the water fountain or go to the restroom the whole day. I cant get her to participate in anything. Tried one on one, tried narrowing her choices by handing her two books rather than asking her to choose from the whole library and she wont even do that. I ask yes or no questions and try not to do it in front of the other kids but she won't respond to anything. She has been homeschooled and this is her first experience with a public school setting. My heart hurts for her. I have done a bit of research and believe she may have selective mutism because she is way beyond bashful. She stands alone on the playground in one spot the entire recess. She is a beautiful little girl and I am sure she is traumatized by the whole experience. I want so badly to help her but more than that, I want to make sure I don't do anything to traumatize her further. I am at a complete loss. I don't know if she can read or even how to figure out her level of progress. Is there ANY way i can help her be more comfortable in class or with me? I know nothing about her family or home life, and i certainly don't know anything about selective mutism. I don't know why the decision was made to cease homeschooling and place her in a public school classroom. I just want to help her. At this point I care less about her academic progress and more about making her feel less afraid. I welcome any thoughts or suggestions! She melts me, and I want her to see me as someone she can trust.
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Re: Student with selective mutism HELP!!

Postby Ninibear » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:08 am

Maybe try talking to her family to get an understanding about your student?? And also you can look up selective mutism strategies online and try them.
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Re: Student with selective mutism HELP!!

Postby dstormes » Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:43 am

Hi there, I hope I can help you! I was diagnosed as a select mute at the age of 3 and I am 18 now and thriving socially and actually going to school to become a speech therapist! To me, it does sound like she is a select mute. However, I would try to schedule a meeting with the family to find out more. If you don't mind me asking, how long has school been in session for/how long has she been in your class room? The biggest thing here is time. It took me literally years to speak in a classroom setting. Its different for different kids but personally, it only made me feel worse when things were rushed. I would not expect to see improvement really quickly. It's also really smart not to put her on the spot. I used to want to curl up and just about die when any teacher would ask me a question in front of the class or even another student. Students with select mutism are actually AFRAID of speaking or doing anything that will cause a stir. That can sometimes include the eating or drinking. Leaving a snack in front of the student just to encourage eating is helpful. She might eventually take some food. With the reading, talk to her family. She is most likely talking and reading at home. They'll be the ones to let you know the most info. Also, questioning her on things like book won't be that helpful. Maybe show her a choice in 2 books but then just make a selection for her. "This one looks good! Why don't we chose this to read" is a good statement to use in this situation. You're letting her have a choice if she wants to make it but then also letting her know she doesn't need to answer if she's not comfortable. Letting the student know that its "okay not to answer if they don't want to" relieves a lot of pressure. If your school has a speech therapist I would recommend a meeting between the student and the speech path. I hope this was helpful! Feel free to ask me anything else and Ill try to help!
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Re: Student with selective mutism HELP!!

Postby Shrinking Violet » Sun Oct 18, 2015 11:46 pm

I was just like this child during my first few years of school. I wouldn't say a word and it was just extreme shyness and being overwhelmed. I remember that time clearly and I remember the feeling of it. I'm in my early 30s now and I still have the same basic emotional states. I've learned to cope with it over time, but I'm still seen as a very quiet person.

All I can say is that this child needs gentleness and understanding. I remember opening up to a select few teachers in primary school. Those that I could speak to were friendly with me, but not in an aggressive way. They didn't draw attention to me or force anything upon me. They didn't mention my quietness and I felt respected. I always hated when I was told accusingly that I should speak up more.

Also, I remember talking to them only when other people weren't around so I couldn't be overheard. Public speaking in particular was difficult for me. One-on-one discussion was much easier. It's really just a matter of trust and creating a calm environment. Personally, I don't think a classroom setting is good for a child with this temperament, but a sensitive teacher can make it a little better.

This child has just been moved into an environment that she's presumably never experienced before. She doesn't know you or probably any of the other students. Everyone is a stranger and she doesn't know who to trust. There are always loud, overbearing students to contend with and power struggles being played out in the school yard. It can be very intimidating for a certain type of child.
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