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?

kinkyfuckery Sun 17-Feb-13 17:12:09

My almost 5 year old doesn't talk much at nursery, but yaps non-stop at home. She doesn't like social situations much.

What exactly do you want her teacher to do?

You should visit your GP, explain why you think your DD has SN and ask for a referral.

SoldeInvierno Sun 17-Feb-13 17:12:54

I think, as the parent, YOU should do something.

HollyBerryBush Sun 17-Feb-13 17:13:00

What would you like to happen?

Are you sure she hasn't spoken to another child in 5 months? I cant see that happening in the playground.

FWIW, anecdotally, DS2 was a quiet little mouse all the way through primary - I got the shock of my life at parents evening in Y7 when his form tutor described him as the life and soul of the party.

BoundandRebound Sun 17-Feb-13 17:14:52

Not uncommon for a confident chatty child out of school to be a shy one inside, I have one of those too. It's not an SEN, she's not selectively mute

You will have to take charge here, I had a very similar situation with dd2 who behaved this way. Go to GP and ask for referral or go private if you can do that.

WilsonFrickett Sun 17-Feb-13 17:16:40

It's not really down to teachers to decide if children have SN or not. The first thing you should do is talk to your GP and ask for a referral to a developmental peadeatrician. This will take some time. In the meantime you should ask for a meeting with school to discuss your concerns and see what action can be taken.

WorraLiberty Sun 17-Feb-13 17:17:10

Since starting reception in September she hasn't spoken to any other child, though she does have friends

I don't understand how that works?

Have you invited the friends over to play?

SashaSashays Sun 17-Feb-13 17:19:05

What you've described isn't that unusual behaviour from a child, particularly at that age. I've seen it many times and lots of even worse cases.

However YOU are the parent and it is YOUR responsibility to do something.

If YOU have the belief (which from what you've said doesn't seem warranted), that she has special needs, YOU must seek a diagnosis of this. The teacher can't do this for you and without a diagnosis she can obviously do her best to cater for your DD but ultimately cannot make special or specific arrangements.

I mean really what are you expecting the teacher to do?

SashaSashays Sun 17-Feb-13 17:20:35

Also how do you know she isn't speaking to any other children or doesn't say anything else other than reading aloud?

BarbarianMum Sun 17-Feb-13 17:23:13

It sounds like selective mutism to me BoundandRebound why do you think it's not? (honest question).

OP - I think she does need help but unless this is the teacher's area of expertise then I think it's unreasonable to put together a plan of action, although she could be expected to follow one put together by an expert.

So what you need is some expert input. Can you speak to the teacher, or school's SEN co-ordinator about getting that. If they want to 'wait and see' then I think you need to agree how long for and what exactly you are waiting to see. For example, if by the end of the year she talks to one other child occasionally would that be OK?

Be very clear in your head what you want your dd to be able to do. My experience of selective mutism is very small (one child) but she is 11 and they are still 'waiting to see' and though she will speak to a few close friends she has never once spoken to a teacher or contributed to a group discussion or anything.

sooperdooper Sun 17-Feb-13 17:24:39

How do you know she hadn't spoken to any other child, I'm assuming you aren't there with her? I don't understand what you mean about nursery, do you mean she used to talk to other children there but now she's at school she isn't?

seeker Sun 17-Feb-13 17:27:07

What happens when she has friends to play?

CloudsAndTrees Sun 17-Feb-13 17:35:16

Does she answer questions when the adults at school speak to her, or are you certain that she only opens her mouth to talk when she is reading her words?

Wishiwasanheiress Sun 17-Feb-13 17:52:49

What's her lack of chatter got to do with SN? I think possibly ur teacher could listen to u a bit more but ur post sounds a bit full on. If guess most kids talk more at home, dunno that's an sn indicator?

ComposHat Sun 17-Feb-13 17:59:30

who'd be a teacher?

you've noticed this behaviour and done the precise sum of fuck all. You want an overworked teacher with 29 other kids to wave a magic wand and make everthing okay?

your daughter your problem.

cory Sun 17-Feb-13 18:43:17

My ds went through a phase when he refused to speak English but only used his minority language, which nobody outside his family understands. It was not SN, just a mix of shyness and stubbornness. It made life very awkward with the other children. He came out of it, but not every child will.

I'd go in and chat with his teacher in an open-minded way, just to find out to what extent there is a problem at school, and then see about a possible diagnosis and/or chat with the SENCO.

lljkk Sun 17-Feb-13 18:48:43

It sounds like selective mutism to me, too, the key is in the name.

I don't think teacher can do much, that's the thing with SM, no amount of pressure will change and the more laid back everyone is about it the better the chances that child will sort themselves. Do not make a fuss. Do Google so you know it's not that uncommon.

One to one playdates with children she likes in your home might be a key to helping her to open up.

ouryve Sun 17-Feb-13 18:49:52

YOU need to ask for a referral. Teachers can't do that.

Figgygal Sun 17-Feb-13 18:50:05

Sorry your job to do something not teachers agree with the others

DeepRedBetty Sun 17-Feb-13 18:52:48

Have you actually discussed this with her teacher or are you expecting the teacher to be psychic ?

Catsdontcare Sun 17-Feb-13 18:53:39

As a parent it's your job to get the ball rolling if you suspect SN. You need to see your GP. You can ask your dd's teacher to write a report about your dd's behaviour at school to back you up.

A teacher cannot diagnose SN.

Catsdontcare Sun 17-Feb-13 18:54:20

What is it you feel the teacher should be doing?

SirBoobAlot Sun 17-Feb-13 18:54:26

How do you know she hasn't said a word?

And yes, you are being unreasonable. If you're so convinced there is a problem, why have you waited two years, and then decided it is down to the teacher? confused

Shellywelly1973 Sun 17-Feb-13 18:57:28

Teachers are just that,teachers!

My ds has SN &actually presumed teachers would have training in dealing with SN. They generally dont.

I would speak to the SENCO at your school. I would also speak to your G.P.

teacherandguideleader Sun 17-Feb-13 18:58:25

I believe I had selective mutism at school - I never spoke. My teachers never picked up that there was anything wrong, they were probably just grateful for a quiet kid in the class! It didn't harm my education so I don't see it as being a special need as such.

I have children in my classes who don't speak. Unless I thought it was affecting their education (i.e. they were not hitting their target grades) there is probably nothing I would do. Some children are just quiet in school.

lljkk Sun 17-Feb-13 19:00:00

What changed for you TAGL? When and why did you start speaking again?

From what I've picked up, there is no consensus on best way to help SM kids start talking, except not to pressure them.

Floggingmolly Sun 17-Feb-13 19:01:15

Have you spoken to your daughter about this, specifically how she has friends at school that she's never actually spoken to? It sounds most unlikely.
Why would you see the situation as being up to the teacher to sort out?

teacherandguideleader Sun 17-Feb-13 19:07:24

I went away to university. I chose to go somewhere far away where no-one knew me and gradually I found the confidence to speak out. I learned my voice wasn't worthless.

There are times when I revert back to my silent self, but they are becoming less frequent. I think the key was that I was never pushed, I spoke out in my own time.

Catchingmockingbirds Sun 17-Feb-13 19:13:15

Teachers can't diagnose, you need a referral to a paediatrician which you'll get from a GP.

Pagwatch Sun 17-Feb-13 19:16:09

Do you understand that the teacher is not the person responsible for getting a diagnosis for your child?

You need to go and see your GP and tell them that you want an imediate referral. Do that as soon as possible.

The teacher is neither nor qualified to get this help for your DD.

Is your GP supportive/approachable?

poppypebble Sun 17-Feb-13 19:19:37

My niece was selectively mute for the entirety of her school years. Please do seek advice from your GP.

She had tons of friends at school - they just spoke for her and she played with them as normal.

Try not to make a big deal of it - my niece wanted to talk at school for a long time but was terrified because she thought everyone would make a big deal of it when she did. So she never did.

Wallace Sun 17-Feb-13 19:20:30

MY dd had SM - and it sounds like your dd does - and the teachers and I worked together, they referred to SALT, Ed Psych etc, we never saw the GP

Also ds2 maybe has some SN and again it is the school who referred him to the paediatrician.

So YANBU to expect her teacher to do something.

thekidsrule Sun 17-Feb-13 19:21:33

blame the school AGAIN

YABVU

and stop labelling dc as sn yourself

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.

The teacher doesn't have to be involved but the school should be helping if there is a problem.

DD1 has also had play therapy and a learning mentor through school as she has social issues, finds it difficult to be a friend.

McNewPants2013 Sun 17-Feb-13 19:26:09

OP can i ask how do you know this.

Catchingmockingbirds Sun 17-Feb-13 19:28:21

The only thing I had access to through the school was an educational psychologist who can't diagnose. I got referrals to SALT, paediatrician and camhs myself.

Pagwatch Sun 17-Feb-13 19:53:53

Many schools have support services once a child has a diagnosis or is in the process of getting a diagnosis.
But schools cannot diagnose.

JeffFaFa Sun 17-Feb-13 20:07:46

Some really harsh replies here i feel. 'Your child your problem' - nice

Alot of people suspect their dc's have SN but think if they did school would pick up on it i know i did, i thought im only one person with no experaince of children so nothing to base my worries against, where as at school they encounted many people surely they couldnt miss it right? its only through reading the SN forum on mumsnet and finding this forum by chance while googling and worrying one night that i realised that school often miss/dont want to see/deny and problems and if you want to get help you have to do it yourself.

In my area at least though referrals are meant to be made by school, only when school refuse/dont bother making the referral can the gp go over them, as is happening now with my dc.

Hope you get some answers soon op, id recommend going over the sn forum on here there is alot of good advice.

tethersend Sun 17-Feb-13 20:18:31

I think that the problem here is that SN is being confused with SEN.

Of course the child has SEN; she doesn't speak to staff or peers. The school does have a responsibility to identify her needs/barriers to learning and take steps to deal with them. This can mean placing her on the CoP at School Action, writing an IEP and reviewing it regularly. It can mean regular 1:1 sessions with a learning mentor, small group withdrawal to work on social skills or just some engineered situations to encourage her to talk. None of these actions require any diagnosis, and are at the school's discretion.

The OP's DD absolutely should be receiving support from the school. It is not the OP's responsibility to put in support for her at school.

Yfronts Sun 17-Feb-13 20:36:24

Can you meet with her teacher and ask them to work out some strategies to put in place.

Isityouorme Sun 17-Feb-13 20:42:38

Your her mother, you start the ball rolling. Ask the school what they are going to do and put deadlines on things happening here possible.

alisunshine29 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:53:16

I spoke to the GP after she'd been at nursery school for 6 months without speaking and he said to wait and see and go back if it was still an issue in 6 months by which point it was the summer holidays so knew I'd have to wait til she'd been in reception a few months before going back to GP or would be told to wait and see again while she settled in. Went back to GP last week and he said that of school were concerned then they'd support/refer her and to give it more time. I know she hasn't spoken to her friends because she has told me and her friend saw us out of school and overheard her talking and said 'wow! She CAN actually talk!' Plus other kids mums have said their children have said she doesn't talk at all. Have spoken to teacher about it who said to give her time but I feel like she's just left to it because she's well behaved. She reads her words one on one at school but doesn't take part in any group work or discussion etc so it's impacting her education. It's getting to the stage where she's pretending she's ill so she doesn't have to go or won't eat so she's lethargic etc. I don't know what else I can do to help her.

tethersend Sun 17-Feb-13 22:35:48

Have a look at SMIRA for some advice, then make an appointment with the teacher and the SENCo to discuss your concerns and ask if and how her behaviour is impacting on her achievement.

As a teacher, I would say that an IEP at this stage would be wholly appropriate. I would want to review the situation perhaps after Easter in order to test the strategies in the IEP, and then think about making a referral to a Speech and Language therapist if appropriate.

Good luck smile

alisunshine29 Sun 17-Feb-13 23:09:38

The thing is, DD is the oldest in her year and we do a lot of reading/number work at home so she's actually ahead educationally in that - another reason why her teacher is reluctant to do anything.

tethersend Sun 17-Feb-13 23:31:10

But under the EYFS, social development is a large part of her achievement- it's not all about reading and writing. Even for English, part of what she is assessed on will be her speaking and listening skills; obviously, her difficulties will mean that she cannot be accurately assessed in this area in the normal way, and school may have to try a different strategy in order to accurately assess her abilities.

tethersend Sun 17-Feb-13 23:33:42
twilight3 Mon 18-Feb-13 01:07:21

OP, my daughter had selective mutism (started when her bio parents were killed) and back then we talked to the SENCO who was very helpful and put everything in motion. She was referred to CAMHS and a S&L therapist would visit her in the school. We did have the school's full support and help every step of the way. She is now a confident little girl with almost no sign of her previous anxious self. She is in fact in the gifted and talented group at school.

So, yes, the school should help you but it's you who has to step up first. Talk to the SENCO, talk to the GP, push push push, she shouldn't have to live with that.

Good luck

OccamsRaiser Mon 18-Feb-13 01:17:34

(At the risk of going against my better judgement and cross-referencing other posts...)

Do you think that this might be a reaction to some of the other things going on in her(/your) life? It may well be an attempt to take back some measure of control when, from the sound of some of your previous posts, it sounds like there might well be a number of areas where she feels powerless...

My all means, speak to her teacher, explain the background, seek their advice. But as others have mentioned, I don't think it is solely the teacher's responsibility here.

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 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 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 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 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?

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 13:06:02

llkjj - the evidence is that professional treatment for SM is most effective when started early. Yes there's a limit to what the teacher can do - that's why it's important for a teacher to recognise when their methods for drawing out a shy child just aren't working, because the issue isn't actually shyness.

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 13:11:49

This is from one of the SMIRA handouts:

The Selectively Mute Child in School

The Teacher’s role

1. Early identification

• the condition may be manifested in school settings and rooted in the child’s anxiety over speaking in unfamiliar social settings and to unfamiliar people

• allow a ‘settling in’ period, but if the child is still not speaking even to peers after a term, action needs to be taken, because they will not “just grow out of it”

• early treatment produces good results quickly, but a long established pattern of
silence is harder to break and needs a highly structured programme

RubixCube Tue 19-Feb-13 13:11:55

My daughter is like this she's 4 and a half.She didn't speak in nursery for months.Now even in school when she comes in crying from the playground she can't tell the teacher what has happened evenI ws though she can talk.She had many friends but from what i know she does'nt really speak alot to them and when she does it's only one on one.

RubixCube Tue 19-Feb-13 13:12:39

*even though

saladfingers Tue 19-Feb-13 13:25:38

My DD was diagnosed when she was 4.She was completely silent in pre-school,school Nursery and the first term or Reception, not able to cry,laugh or speak.The Reception teacher mentioned it to me that she was concerned.I phoned HV who made a referral to the Child and Adolesent Mental Health Unit.She has since been referred to SLT but there is nothing they can do as her spoken language is age appropriate when out of the school setting.With the support of the CAMHs team I have started supporting my DD in class through the sliding in process as outlined in the SM resource manual.My DD is now almost 6,she will now whisper to me in and around her classroom,she will talk quietly to a friend or 2 on the walk across the playground into school.She will now make some noises while I'm not there.As yet she has not spoken to any of her peers or school staff but she has made a huge amount of progress in 18months.If we had delayed this intervention then the SM would have been further ingrained,her non verbal communication coping strategies would have been even better and I believe the anxiety would have been too great to overcome.We are not out of the woods yet but we will get there without the need for medication.My DD now has 1hr per day support from a key worker.I'm hopefully that this too will be beneficial.

saladfingers Tue 19-Feb-13 13:29:19

I have also found the SMIRA website and their FB support group very helpful.

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 13:39:04

I can't link the pdf download for the full SMIRA leaflet, but here's an excerpt which hopefully will be helpful for those interested. It's from the 'Downloads' section of the SMIRA site.

The Teacher’s Response
As Selective Mutism is relatively rare, many teachers will never have encountered such a child before and may have no idea how to respond. Recognising that Selective Mutism is an anxiety response, similar to a phobia, may help the teacher to better understand the child.

Negative responses by the teacher can include:-
• feeling threatened or frustrated at being unable to elicit a verbal response from the child
• modelling verbal responses, e.g. answering register, ‘over-talking’ for the child
• denying there is a problem or hoping it will clear up in time without any intervention
• pressuring, bribing, threatening, flattering or cajoling the child into speaking.

Positive responses by the teacher can include:-
• removing the pressure to speak from child
• removing the pressure to make the child speak from yourself
• trying to help the child feel secure and accepted as they are at that time
• working hard to establish a rapport and a good relationship with the child
• accepting any non-verbal responses or attempts to communicate
• linking the SM child with a small group of peers and a key adult
• encouraging social interaction and physical movement through games
• letting the child know that other children and even adults fear speaking at times
• seeking outside help from agencies, e.g. SNTS, EPS, and support groups like SMIRA
• working with the parents to make a ‘bridge’ between home and school.

i hardly ever spoke through primary school and would generally only speak to my mum, uncle, nan, cousin, and 1 or 2 friends. i was extremely shy when i was little. it got a little better through my teenage years but i was still shy. i couldnt even talk to my aunty shock but i turned out fine

i highly doubt its sn but if you're that worried... then it is YOUR responsibility to get it checked out

lljkk Tue 19-Feb-13 14:24:29

The progress that SaladFingers describes is about what I've seen for the child I know now in y7. the one whose mum took the laid back approach.

But I hope SaladF & others can do better.

DizzyHoneyBee Tue 19-Feb-13 14:37:36

It sounds like selective mutism to me. Ask for a meeting with the SENCO at school. There are a wealth of resources about SM out there; I remember writing an essay about it for university and finding loads of good stuff from Alison Wintgens (I think) online, she's a speech therapist if I recall correctly.

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 14:42:45

lljkk - I don't see that you can generalise. SM can be linked with other conditions such as ASD, and even if it isn't, no two children or their circumstances will be the same.

I can see that especially an older SM child might resist intervention if they got the impression that people were trying to 'fix' them (though of course the therapy should be designed specifically to avoid pressuring the child). That's presumably another reason why it's easier to intervene earlier when a child is younger and less 'aware'.

merrymouse Tue 19-Feb-13 18:39:59

Maybe intervention tends to occur when the problem is more severe and therefore also less easy to solve?

poppypebble Tue 19-Feb-13 21:10:58

My DNiece's selective mutism was made worse when the SENCO shouted at her - she then became a refuser.

She did not talk at school ever - from reception through to Y11. I took her to school once and it was shocking to see her total lack of facial expression, never mind speech, from the moment we arrived in the school grounds. Every professional seen said that they had never experienced SM that got beyond primary school. Sliding in did not work with her and she never uttered a word on school grounds, instead beginning to speak the moment she got out of the gate.

In the end getting a dog made all the difference. She began to get more confident and is now studying to be an animal behaviourist at college.

In my experience (as a teacher) classroom teachers know little about SM - I'm alert to it because of my DNiece, but others I work with do not understand it at all and just think the child is 'shy'.

alisunshine29 Tue 19-Feb-13 21:47:16

Thanks for all your replies, links and advice. Just seeing how much happier she is this week during half term has made me determined to do my best to help improve things at school for her. To those that asked - yes her teacher mentioned to me that she doesn't speak at all at school but said she thought she just needed time to come out of her shell. However her nursery teacher had told her that she'd had the issue there for a whole year which in my opinion infers it's more deep rooted than simply shyness. Her teacher had assumed she was talking to other children at play time outside when she couldn't be overheard as she has friends but this isn't the case. DD has asked that I ask her teacher if I can go in and be a class helper a couple of mornings per week and I think it could help as she may at least start talking to others via me. But not sure if this course of action is generally recommended? When I went to an after school session to view DD's work with her she had no problem talking to me even though she knew her teacher could overhear so at least me going in could help her teacher assess her communication skills more so than she can do at the moment.

Littleturkish Tue 19-Feb-13 21:49:59

Have you asked her why she doesn't speak at school? Is she able to rationalise or articulate her feelings?

BlatantLies Tue 19-Feb-13 21:56:23

I watched This BBC Series on selective mutism. (although I swear it wasn't three years ago..... confused )
The last episode was particularly interesting and they showed how they got the little girl talking. I can't remember what happened with the other girls but it was a fascinating show.

Noodlenoon Tue 19-Feb-13 22:04:09

I stopped talking shortly after I started school. I said something that sounded so bad I didn't want to use my voice there again. A teacher suggested I whispered to a friend who could relay what I said so that's what I did. Just whispered to friends and never spoke to teachers or any adult strangers.
At some point people came in and I'd go with a friend to play games. It was good fun but didn't help me find my voice.
My mum took me to a professional once that I remember, and that made me feel very uncomfortable.
I told my parents that if I could have a fresh start in a new school I would talk but they didn't believe me.
The reason I eventually spoke in yr 5 is that I was "forced" to. The teacher had just decided one day he was going to make my life hell until I did. He was very authoritative and he shouted and screamed and waited until I felt I had no choice. I was petrified and cried and cried but by the time I'd finished reciting my answers there was no point going back. So I spoke from then on.
Don't know what the answer is, or what might help but habits are hard to break and professionals are frightening to frightened children. I'd talk. Talk it through with your little one but most importantly listen, and take it from there.
Good luck

poppy, I am stunned, that is exactly what worked with my dd2's selective mutism, a dog.

Dd2 has ASD too.

Shelby2010 Tue 19-Feb-13 22:21:37

OP, will your Dd talk to the children in her class outside school eg if you invite them round to tea? I wonder if it would help her if she got to know 1 or 2 of them in an environment that she was more comfortable in. Maybe something you could try whilst waiting for more specialist referrals?

poppypebble Tue 19-Feb-13 22:32:30

DNiece struggled so much because it was made a big deal of at school. She is 17 now and can explain that she felt that because people knew she didn't talk, she couldn't just start talking without there being a massive fuss.

Toughasoldboots, the dog was (and still is) like a miracle. He's an unusual breed and people stop her to talk about him when she walks him, so she became more confident. She talks at college now, but only because my DSis asked them to pretend they didn't know about the SM, so she felt no weight of expectation. DNiece is a diamond - clever, sensitive, funny - but such a worrier. The dog works better than any therapy or prozac ever did for her.

alisunshine29 Tue 19-Feb-13 22:33:40

She is very mature for her age and particularly emotionally mature - I.e feels empathy, can explain logic behind feelings, no tantrums pretty much ever etc but when I've asked why she doesn't speak at school (not lots of times to make an issue of it) she shrugs and just says 'i just don't.' It's as if she doesn't understand why. Having seen her at school/photos in her learning journey etc I can see her mannerisms are completely different and it's as if she just loses all facial expression. She has seen friends out of school but doesn't talk to them. However if we go to a soft play area she'll actively approach a younger child to play - I think it's because the expectation to speak is removed as other 5 year olds ask questions etc.

alisunshine29 Tue 19-Feb-13 22:38:47

Poppy - I think that aspect is putting DD off too. I took her to a party at the weekend and she was talking to me and every single friend that heard her commented something like:'wow she can talk!' Or 'i didn't realise you could talk' etc. We have a dog (who she chatters to constantly!) But won't engage in conversation with strangers about him, or anything else, unless it's via me.

poppypebble Tue 19-Feb-13 22:39:43

ali she sounds just like my niece with the lack of facial expression etc. It upset me to see it for myself even though I'd known about the SM for years by that point. I hope you find a resolution to this problem quicker than we did. Ask to see the SENCO and speak to your GP again. DSis found this really helpful.

Littleturkish Wed 20-Feb-13 09:19:39

I would recommend play therapy again- use the official registered list of qualified play therapists and go and meet them first to find one you think would be a good fit. It sounds like you could uncover why she feels like this and encourage speech, if you pay privately you'll have more control over who to use- or go through GP and school and use their therapist.

Either way- ask for a meeting with SENCO and class teacher before you return to GP.

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