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to think DD has SN and expect her teacher to do something?

(100 Posts)
alisunshine29 Sun 17-Feb-13 17:10:13

When DD was at nursery school she spent the entire year talking to her friends but no adults at all - not even once. Since starting reception in September she hasn't spoken to any other child, though she does have friends. She reads her words to her teacher one on one but doesn't speak at all all day other than that. At home she never stops talking and is very happy but she has been really despondent about going to school for the past few weeks and isn't enjoying it at all. Surely almost 2 years of not talking in a school environment is enough proof she isn't going to suddenly ''come out of her shell's and her teacher should do something?

BlatantLies Mon 18-Feb-13 01:40:12

My first two DS's were like this. DS1 literally didn't talk to the other DC's when he started school. We were abroad so he didn't start going to school until he was five and a half. He would never voluntarily talk to the teachers either although he would answer direct questions and would read.
When I went into school the other kids would run up and ask me why he couldn't talk. He only started talking in grade 2.
DS2 was also very quiet but not quite as bad as his brother.
I wasn't too concerned as he ( and his brother) were very chatty at home and had good friends from out of school. Also my DH is a quiet non-chatty person so it runs in the family. My DS's were not at all unhappy at school. If I had thought they were unhappy or were 'unable' to talk I would have done something.

DS 1 is 20 now and is still fairly reserved but has loads of friends and is enjoying Uni very much.
I never considered him or his brother to be shy , they just don't see the point of idle chit chat and they hold their thought to themselves.
They are both bright, have done well academically at shool and both have busy social lives. They have always been well liked by their peers.

In kindergarten and grade one the teachers would ask me about how quiet they were but they didn't seem too bothered as they knew they were chatty at home.

My DD on the others and hasn't stopped talking since she first started. grin

Sorry my post is not well written, I am off to bed and i am rushing.

Greensleeves Mon 18-Feb-13 02:01:14

Some really unkind replies here!

OP YANBU at all to expect the teacher to have picked up on your daughter's lack of speech! If she is indeed not talking at all when in school, that is very unusual and worrying, and not the same as being a bit shy.

I would speak to your teacher immediately, ask her to set up a meeting with you, her and the SENCo with a view to getting an IEP in place and placing your child on School Action.

The school CAN then escalate this to School Action Plus by calling in an educational psychologies to observe her in school. She can also be referred to a SALT for assessment.

If the teacher has been doing her job properly she will KNOW that she has a child in her class who does not speak. She will have been differentiating for her during whole-class teaching and will have considered it while assessing your child and deciding which groups to put her in. Not talking at all, to peers or adults, is not something a teacher could just not notice. I am surprised the teacher has not raised it with you.

Greensleeves Mon 18-Feb-13 02:06:13

It IS a part of a teacher's job to identify difficulties and raise them. Schools do have a brokerage role in aiding families to access services in relation to additional needs. That is why schools have a SENCo.

Ask the teacher if she uses paired/group talking during whole class teaching inputs, and if so, what she is doing to support your daughter who does not speak.

I am shocked that people think this isn't the teacher's job! How can she teach a child effectively if she doesn't speak and the teacher has no idea why?

fromparistoberlin Mon 18-Feb-13 08:34:48

you are the person responsible for her, not the teacher

the teacher is there to teach her, and look out for her welfare at school

best of luck, and agree GP and SENCO

lljkk Netherlands Mon 18-Feb-13 08:52:25

I knew 2 moms with same age boys with Selective Mutism.

Mom1 took a laid back approach, went into her son read but otherwise just gently encouraged. Eventually her son developed some friends he'd talk to outside of school, but he's in y7 now, and still not talking AFAIK.

Mom2 went nuclear with interventions. Paed, pressuring school to do XYZ, moving school eventually. We lost contact, but last we spoke, her DS still wasn't talking in school.

What I learnt from that is that it's very difficult to fix; has to come from within. I did think Mom1 was happier.

she's actually ahead educationally in that - another reason why her teacher is reluctant to do anything.

I have this with DS, who has behaviour problems but not so severe the school wants to do anything about it other than usual punishments which aren't very effective, especially as he is average or even slightly ahead in academics. I imagine it comes down to funding cutbacks.

I was told to talk to my GP hmm who instantly said "But I can't refer to educational psychologist, only the school can do that!" GP is canny, knows the system, and intends to phone DS teacher to get more info. I think GP will try to gently apply leverage on school to get my referral.

crashdoll Mon 18-Feb-13 11:13:29

Has the teacher mentioned this at all to you? If not, then YANBU to expect her to flag it up with you.

RemoteOutpost Mon 18-Feb-13 23:44:40

I am shocked at the ignorance and fuckwittery on this thread.

OP - please read and re-read Tethersend and Greensleeves' posts, they know what they are talking about.

For a child not to speak at school, or to speak only to a very limited audience, is NOT normal, even when they speak normally at home.

And yes, of course the teacher should pick up on it and raise their concerns with you. How are YOU supposed to know what is going on at school?

From experience, I would suggest discussing again with the teacher, and also contacting the school's SENCO.

Unfortunately many teachers seem to adopt the 'wait and see' approach, which isn't ideal as Selective Mutism benefits from early intervention, and it often isn't the case that a child simply 'grows out of it'. Many years of social and educational development can be compromised due to the isolation caused by not being able to communicate with the people you spend a large part of the day with.

I would second the suggestion of SMIRA's website - they have a lot of further info and a forum. Google Selective Mutism, most of the info on the web is reasonably good.

Here's a definition from ChildMind.org
"Selective mutism (SM) is an anxiety disorder in which a child is unable to speak in some settings and to some people. A child with SM may talk normally at home, for instance, or when alone with her parents, but cannot speak at all, or speak above a whisper, in other social settings—at school, in public, or at extended family gatherings. Parents and teachers often think the child is willful and refuses to speak, or speak loud enough to be heard, but the child experiences it as an inability. It can cause severe distress—she can’t communicate even if she is in pain, or, say, needs to use the bathroom—and prevent her from participating in school and other age-appropriate activities. It should not be confused with the reluctance to speak a child adapting to a new language might exhibit, or shyness in the first few weeks at a new school."

BlatantLies Tue 19-Feb-13 00:21:56

I know it's not 'normal' for DC's not to speak at school but it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with them (see my earlier post). My eldest DC barely spoke at school and didn't speak to the other kids but was lively, happy and sociable at home. Like the OP's DD he was old'ish for the year and academically stronger than the other DC. ( He ended up skipping the whole of the 2nd grade.)
I do think it needs looking into especially as the OP is worried her DD is unhappy but I don't think it is automatically means there are any serious issues.

I didnt want my eldest DS (and his younger brother to a lesser extent) to think there was something wrong with them and to feel pressurised into having to talk to the other DC's in school.

I can see that my 'laid back' approach looks a bit daft now but my boys were happy at school, could speak to the teachers, could do 'show and tell' etc and had plenty of proper normsl friendships outside of school. They also had friends in school.
If they were unhappy, if they were frustrated, if they had problems learning or if they didn't have friends I would have done something about it.

GingerBlondecat Tue 19-Feb-13 06:20:19

Sweetie, you mis titled your post (OP)

it should read
" To think DD has an SN and what can "I" do to help her

Littleturkish Tue 19-Feb-13 06:30:35

I would advise:

Return to gp
Ask school to do as GP has asked and make referral
Investigate play therapy (as mentioned up thread- extremely useful tool)

merrymouse Tue 19-Feb-13 06:48:32

I can see why you are frustrated. You do seem to have repeatedly taken this up with both the school and the GP.

I might be wrong, but I thought that a most of the Early Years 'curriculum' was about learning to inter act with others, and that a lot of KS1 work involved children working in groups and communicating with each other. This is going to be miserable for your daughter, even if she does eventually 'grow out of it'.

If I were you I would be googling specific social and communication targets and discussing them with the Senco/teacher.

(I googled them for you www.foundationyears.org.uk/early-years-foundation-stage-2012/)

RedHelenB Tue 19-Feb-13 07:58:29

As a teacher I feel certain that if she really doesn't speak AT ALL in class that they would have mentioned it to you. The fact that she is quiet at school doesn't mean that she isn't spreaking at all as clearly she is to do her words.

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 09:45:03

RedHelen - being able to read out loud is not the same as verbal communication, as it's from a script.

Paradoxically, a selectively mute child might be capable of reading out a poem in assembly (as that is scripted, and therefore less stressful), but be completely unable to put up their hand and answer a question in class, or chat to their peers in the playground.

lljkk Netherlands Tue 19-Feb-13 09:49:29

Good luck, OP. I expect you realise by now you need to explore several avenues. SM is a strange one and I wouldn't expect a teacher to recognise it half the time. But once it's drawn to their attention then they should support to extent they can (often not much they can do, mind).

Friend's DD was only diagnosed with SM when very nearly 10yo. She spoke to her peers fine, but to adults can only produce one of 3 words and even then only if pressured. SM is the same in and out of school and naturally her parents took ages to realise, too (she speaks fine to her close family adults).

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 09:58:45

By the way it's not the case (or shouldn't be) that effective professional treatment for SM will involve 'making a fuss' or 'pressuring' the child - it's the exact opposite.

The first step will be to educate all staff who have contact with the child about their condition, and advise them NOT to apply pressure, as the child is not doing it deliberately.

Any treatment which takes place in school revolve around increasing the child's confidence and helping them to relax enough to speak as well as they do in other settings.

RedHelenB Tue 19-Feb-13 10:16:00

The point I was making is that I can't see any teacher not realising that she doesn't speak at all apart from reading & how does OP actually know this is the case? Children are observed in FS stage all the time so the post doesn't make much sense.

orlakielylover Tue 19-Feb-13 10:56:32

Surely the school have got a range of people who would be able to help, my DDs school have access to a SEN coordinator, Parent support advisor, Educational Psychologist, Child and adolescent mental health team, Multi agancy support team.

Actually, it depends on where you live. Not every school has access to the full range of services. Where I live school have to buy in time from EP service and prioritise accordingly. It's mostly behaviour issues that the EP is involved with.

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 11:20:41

RedHelen - I don't understand why the OP doesn't make sense? She said:

"When DD was at nursery school she spent the entire year talking to her friends but no adults at all - not even once. Since starting reception in September she hasn't spoken to any other child, though she does have friends. She reads her words to her teacher one on one but doesn't speak at all all day other than that."

Okay this is an assumption, but presumably the teacher has said that this is the case? It's possible for a selectively mute child (especially at a young age) to have friends and play with them, but not speak to them.

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 11:34:19

From what the OP has said (and I may have interpreted it wrongly) - the problem is not that the teacher doesn't realise that the OPs child doesn't speak, it is that she is unwilling at this stage to do anything about it in terms of referrals or interventions.

RedHelenB Tue 19-Feb-13 11:51:24

Ok I see what she means. TBH though, if she is speaking to the teacher & communicating with other children then it may not be considered not to be a huge issue? In foundation stage there isn't a lot of speaking in front of the whole class etc like higher up the school. Plus, as I understand it the idea is not to pressure the child into talking therefore maybe they are playing it down for a reason? If OP really thinks the school aren't doing anything she really does need to talk to the teacher firstly & then ask to speak to the SENCO.

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 12:38:03

Even if the teacher is playing it down, it's not unreasonable to expect that the teacher should

a) have a good understanding of what it is they are playing down and why, and

b) keep the parent informed about what the issues are in class, and what they are doing to try and help the child

As some have so charmingly pointed out, 'your kid, your SN problem' means that the parent is often the one who - maybe some years down the line - has to summarise their child's mental and educational history on a form, and this is much easier to do when the teacher has communicated well about what the issues are and what they have tried to do about them.

lljkk Netherlands Tue 19-Feb-13 12:43:51

I have yet to read or hear a story where intervention measures made that much difference with SM (although endorsement of early interventions being beneficial above, if anyone wants to elaborate?). I am not sure teacher can do much for OP's child. And consensus seems to be that more direct attention given the worse SM tends to become, if anything.

saladfingers Tue 19-Feb-13 12:51:13

Phone your Health Visitor,ask for an urgent referral To CAMHs.
This does sound like Selective Mutism to me.I'm surprised the teacher hasn't made an inschool referral to the ED Psych but this condition is very difficult to diagnose and treat.
However, early intervention is really important.It may just be shyness but on the otherhand if your DD has severe anxiety related to school based communication she and the teacher need specialist support ASAP.
Essential reading

saladfingers Tue 19-Feb-13 13:02:08

lljkk I have personal experience of early intervention being beneficial.What sources/studies are you referring to?Your 2 friends?
I'm afraid any teacher should be able to raise a query if a child isn't uttering a word in school.

lljkk Netherlands Tue 19-Feb-13 13:03:47

3 friends & all the threads I've read online about it.

What form did the early intervention take (how old, too) and what were the effects?

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