Ds won't talk to his teacher

(41 Posts)
icepole Tue 15-Jan-13 22:41:20

He is five and very, very shy. He doesn't talk to adults in general but obviously to talking to his teacher is causing issues. He is getting on well with hiss work although they are struggling to assess things like his reading. The educational psychologist was contacted and her advice has been to just leave him be.

Today he was kept in at break time as he needed to tell the teacher words to write down in order to finish his work. I feel upset for him and have no idea what to do to support him.

learnandsay Tue 15-Jan-13 22:43:52

Can you help out in the classroom as a volunteer?

icepole Tue 15-Jan-13 22:47:54

I work sadly, weirdly he said that himself today.

Homebird8 Tue 15-Jan-13 22:57:19

Would he talk to a puppet on your (or his teacher's) arm? Sometimes children can be persuaded to talk if they can suspend their disbelief that it is a person they are talking to.

Our DSs use the pixies who live in their heads to explain things. If something is a bit difficult we ask what their pixies think about it and usually get a pretty straight answer if we wait long enough whilst they put the words together.

Either of these might be worth a try.

merrymonsters Tue 15-Jan-13 23:05:47

When my nephew started school, he didn't speak to anyone (adults or children) at school for six months. They got psychiatrists involved. It turned out that he had very bad glue ear and needed grommets. He was still naturally shy, but once he could hear properly he started interacting with the other children and he's doing fine now.

My sister had no idea that he couldn't hear well, because he was OK at home.

Have you had your son's hearing checked recently?

sazale Tue 15-Jan-13 23:19:27

It could be that he's too anxious to talk, that he's unable to rather than won't. This is known as selective mutism. If this is the case then keeping him in so he can talk will put far too much pressure on him and make it even harder to talk.

There's info here
www.nhs.uk/conditions/selective-mutism/Pages/Introduction.aspx

My son finds talking outside the home in front of others very difficult. He is also 5. This website has some good info and resources
smira.org.uk/

I hope this helps x

simpson Tue 15-Jan-13 23:25:37

What year is he in??

It might be worth having a chat with him explaining that he is doing very well at school etc but his teacher needs to see how well he is doing so she needs to hear him read.

Tbh if a chat like that does not help, I would go in and chat to the teacher and say you are aware of the problem but you don't want any pressure on him...

I would second getting a hearing test as DS had glue ear in reception ( and needed grommets)....

icepole Wed 16-Jan-13 02:23:54

I will get his hearing checked, not thought of that. He tells me he is scared. He is like this with all adults, he talks to children ok.

I have been in to talk to his teacher and we had him on a sticker chart for a bit but the educational psychologist said to back off completely. He does it to me sometimes, not often. It's like he gets in this strange place where he just can't talk even if he wants to.

parachutesarefab Wed 16-Jan-13 02:39:35

When he needs to talk to the teacher, could he have a friend who he tells it to who can pass the message on / teacher can eavesdrop?

icepole Wed 16-Jan-13 03:09:15

Reading through that info on selective mutism it sounds like that.

I think he uses other children to pass messages on at times but the teacher doesn't like it much.

I can't sleep now, am worried about my boy.

izzyishappilybusy Wed 16-Jan-13 03:16:45

Mine was like this when he started school he didn't like teacher or TAs but it just passed with time.

MyFace Wed 16-Jan-13 03:53:38

Hi Icepole!

I was exactly like your DS around that age too! Don't worry it will pass if you don't draw attention to it in a negative way. I can still remember all the fuss and the tests I had to go through for hearing (they thought it might've been an ear problem) but it was all actually down to shyness and anxiety.

I was pressured a lot though which made me eventually speak because I hated all the attention it was drawing to me, I just wanted to be left alone! I think it was when I was in infants around when I was 7 or 8 when that happened so you might have a long wait sad

It was a relief when I did actually speak although I was still shy until I reached secondary school, and then er....let's just say I did an awful lot of talking blush

DS had a few issues too due to extreme shyness but he soon got over it didn't take him that long, so don't worry and reassure your ds that he can speak when he's ready and do more to make him more comfortable in his surroundings maybe? Things like don't try to make him speak out in class. The teacher might be able to communicate with him at first, one to one away from other children and adults, simple/small things like asking him to count money with her or asking him to say the answer of a sum (one word answers are enough at first).

Reading shouldn't be a priority right now, as it can be daunting (maybe you can listen to him read at home for now and give feedback to the teacher everyday?) Hope your DS gets over his shyness, good luck!

HTH smile

sanam2010 Wed 16-Jan-13 09:37:45

Yes it does sound like selective mutism - I am surprised the school isn't doing a bit more to help him. I agree not to make an issue out if it is right but they should have some special person to do one on one sessions with him perhaps.

My nephew had selective mutism when he started school (didn't speak to teachers or other children) and they had a lovely special needs coordinator who sat down with him for half an hour each day giving him special attention and confidence. He is now 9 and the top student in his class by the way. He is still shy but speaks to teachers and children and has friends at school. It usually goes away over time but it does help the child to be very caring and supportive. Good luck!

icepole Wed 16-Jan-13 11:17:36

Thanks, I am surprised the educational psychologist did not suggest it. I am going to make a dr's appointment. A proper diagnosis will help me deal with the school.

sazale Wed 16-Jan-13 13:03:26

If you're on Facebook, Icepole. This is the official group of SMIRA and they have some good info in the documents on there.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/347613499222/

My son won't speak to me in the school grounds but will now speak to his friends. He will sometimes answer questions if he is asked and he knows he will get the answer correct, which is an improvement.

I'm working with school to try to reduce the pressure on him (eg I take him into school 20 mins after the other kids so that the parents have all left and he avoids the chaos of morning challenge, we use the main entrance rather than class entrance and a LSA meets us and he takes a toy with him which he gets to keep with him).

We!re still waiting on assessments.

icepole Wed 16-Jan-13 14:48:44

Thanks, I have asked to join. He won't talk to me in front of his teacher. I find it distressing to see him like that.

sazale Wed 16-Jan-13 15:36:49

It is hard to see. My son is a clown, always making us laugh and never stops talking but only at home!

He has recently spoke to me a few times in the classroom but very quietly and only at the end of the day when the kids have gone and the teachers busy. Part of his anxiety in school seems to be the expectations that he feels they have of him.

He also doesn't speak to his Aunties if we bump in to them whilst out and about.

icepole Wed 16-Jan-13 16:05:54

He will talk to aunts etc after a warm up period, not to start with. He is mostly fine at home, a clown like your boy! Sometimes he is scared to tell me certain things and can get quite distressed. He is a creative boy, does lots of craft, spends hours making things quietly on his own. I did wonder if school was the right environment for him.

mooliebear Wed 16-Jan-13 16:31:40

Hi,
This is just like my youngest DD, it started at preschool with her, she only talked through her friend and only pointed or used head movements to questions, anxious and clingy, the staff at the preschool were unsupportive, she was referred to Camms, which after lots of assessments, we were told she was a selective mute.
DD was starting school in the sept 2012, so I made an appointment with the school to discuss her, it was the best thing I did, they have been amazing, so so supportive but they don't make a fuss of my DD, they have a teacher at the school, who comes in 3 times a week, who just sits on the carpet with the class but always next to her, without making it a big deal, just so she has a regular face, then she will encourage her with questions, she won't talk but its to get her confidence up, then they have a session once a week each morning, where she can take something from home and they can talk about it or the rest of group can.
She is doing great regarding her reading and writing because again they don't make a fuss, they are letting her go at her pace, as she is only 4!
Since starting in sept, you can see the difference in her, all because of the schools support, they don't agree with reward charts, or going on about the non talking as it puts pressure on them, which they don't need.
We decided to not continue with camms counseling, as the school has be so great.
I also brought some books on selective mutism which are great as reading them, changed how I do things too.
I think you should go in and chat with his teacher, she should not be keeping him in on breaks, as this will draw attention to him, which is the exact opposite of what he needs.
The best bit for us, is that she spoke to her teacher for the first time this week, only 3 words but when the teacher told me, she was over the moon but just acted all normal with her and asked her to sit down, where as really she said her insides were doing cartwheels!
Sorry if it sounds rushed, in the middle of sorting tea.
Hope you get sorted soon

StillSmilingAfterAllTheseYears Wed 16-Jan-13 17:01:19

If the EdPsych has said to leave him be, I would be very angry at him being kept in over break! He is being punished. If the teacher doesn't like this the sound very harsh IMO.

I would be tempted to meet with the head and discuss. This is not naughtiness is it? So he shouldn't be punished.

StillSmilingAfterAllTheseYears Wed 16-Jan-13 17:02:42

What is your general view of the teacher btw?

icepole Wed 16-Jan-13 20:22:41

She seems nice but I think she is a bit frustrated. I meet with her once already but that was before I knew about anything like this. That was when she suggested the sticker chart but he's off that now, it wasn't working anyway. I think a proper diagnosis will help, then I can go back in with some info. I don't trust schools though, I don't trust them to deal with things well.

StillSmilingAfterAllTheseYears Wed 16-Jan-13 20:31:48

I would ask to meet the head if it were me. I also don't trust schools sometimes. You need an agreed plan of how he will be treated even without any diagnosis. When the EdPsych said leave him be - do you think he meant at this stage yes here's a problem but handled correctly he'll just grow out of it? Because punishing the child is not handling it correctly.

Personally, I would be going in now, with a complaint of idiotically harsh treatment.

StillSmilingAfterAllTheseYears Wed 16-Jan-13 20:35:13

She shouldn't be frustrated. She should be understanding. Teachers have to deal with the whole spectrum. For some reason this has got me quite perturbed.

My son who is also 5 didn't talk to his reception teacher at all until the last 1/2 term. She was great and just accepted it, I'd recommend your sons teachers backs off and let's him be. How experienced is she?

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