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SALT, shy child, selective mutism and how best to help

(15 Posts)
lighteningmcmama Fri 05-Dec-14 00:55:13


My 4.6yo son has just started at a primary school and they want to refer him to SALT. In preschool he had an Individual Education Plan because he didn't really engage in activities or with other children. The IEP helped him a lot and he started to engage in activities and with adults other than his keyworker (who he always communicated with from the beginning and loved).

He is very different at home and with his similar aged cousins- he plays, initiates play, and speaks very well. His speech is completely clear and he is well understood. The problem is not that he can't speak well, but that he doesn't in school. He can read very well.

Having looked into it I'm wondering whether he might have selective mutism (first suggested by a family member who is a primary school teacher, but only suggested after the SALT referral idea has come up).

The school have been very confusing about what the problem areas are and I have requested another meeting.

I would love to get any advice from parents of children who have accessed SALT, especially for selective mutism or for problems along that spectrum (ie the child can physically speak but is shy and doesn't speak). I really want to know what questions I should be asking of the school, and how best I can help him at home.

Many thanks.

TimelyNameChangey Fri 05-Dec-14 12:10:17

My DD is ten now and it's only recently that I realise she had selective mutism at the age of 3 when she started preschool. It was attached to a small private prep where she attended until the end of year 2 and they never flagged it.

A state school would have.

However...she is fine now...had no intervention at all. She is and always was a very articulate child, sensitive and intelligent....I helped her by having a lot of playdates and quickly, she improved so that while she didn't really speak to her teachers, she did speak to her peers with no issues.

When we moved her school for year 3 she had a rocky year but a very dedicated teacher who made her be a leader and all kinds of challenges....she speaks now whenever she needs to...has friends and is doing well.

In your shoes I would go straight to the GP without your son and ask for a referral.

Lostriver Fri 05-Dec-14 12:16:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ABeautifulLie Fri 05-Dec-14 17:01:01

Agree that SALT was pointless. They discharged DD instantly because she wouldn't talk to them, but had no actual speech problem.

Apparently the wait list to see an Educational Psychologist is very long where I am, so DD has never been seen by anybody that can help her.

All action taken has been between me and her class teachers. 4 years later she's speaking to nearly everybody in the school setting, but nobody in a healthcare setting. She sometimes says "Thanks" to shop assistants but otherwise nods/shakes her head in public.
'Sliding in' is what worked at school, but it's hard to do that in any other situation.

Also completely agree with removing all pressure to speak and ensuring that nursery/school do likewise. The staff that were pushy are the ones she still doesn't talk to.

Heyho111 Fri 05-Dec-14 22:38:42

You should concider asking for a referral to child psychology. This condition is usually a psychological difficulty rather than salt.

lighteningmcmama Sun 07-Dec-14 04:26:04

Thank you all so much for your replies. I'm do glad I posted now it's great to hear others experiences.

Interesting those of you who say SALT wasn't helpful. When ds talks he's pretty articulate for his age. Also he does talk to some adults in school just not all. So it's mild whatever it is, but I want to ensure he's getting any help he needs.

timely interesting point re state schools, ds is at an independent school but I'm getting the impression the SEN department isn't as advanced as in a state school. Also because the school is in a different borough SALT in the children s centre have rejected the referral nowhmm the school is now looking at a health clinic referral.

So now my options are to ask for referral locally. How do I do this?SALT locally accept referrals directly from parents but am also interested in pursuing the psychology route. Do I go to gp or health visitor for a referral so they can decide who to refer to? If so which is better placed?

Play dates have proven hard because of the distance of the school, combined with me having 2 other young dcs including an 8wo. But I have still tried to suggest it but not got anywhere with the parents I know from school ...


Lostriver Sun 07-Dec-14 07:18:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lostriver Sun 07-Dec-14 07:28:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pelicangiraffe Sun 07-Dec-14 07:30:32

Is he a sensitive chap?

My DS wasn't shy as such but was very observant and reflective and quiet in the first year of school and still is in new/different situations. It's a part of his sensitive, very aware, very caring, bright nature.

Heyho111 Sun 07-Dec-14 10:56:00

Hi. Quite often SALT will not work with a child who has selective mutism because they can talk but choose not to. Speech therapists do not have psychological training so therefore are really not equipped with the skills to help. That is why when they do try and help it's not always useful.
You can get a referral to child psychology through your gp.
You may have a battle. SALT say it's not their remit and sometimes so does child psychology. Push for child psychology. It is psychological if they choose not to talk.
It should also make no difference where your child goes to school regarding children's centre. It where you live. However it may mean they can not do school visits. Push again for your referral to be accepted at the children's centre. Don't take what they say as that's final.
I sound a little heavy sorry. But I know how the systems work.

Goldmandra Mon 08-Dec-14 00:23:50

It is psychological if they choose not to talk.

I get why you are differentiating between children who have speech delays and children who have the skills to form the words but are mute in certain situations. However I think it's important to be clear that these children are not choosing not to talk. They can want very much to talk. It's a case of can't, not won't.

Pelicangiraffe Mon 08-Dec-14 06:21:07

Does the school realise that he talks lots at home

hazeyjane Mon 08-Dec-14 08:07:56

I had selective mutism as a child. (40 years ago - ahem)

I remember very clearly that I felt much safer and stronger not talking (this is obviously a personal thing)

I had an amazing primary school teacher, she took me under her wing, gave me a job in the mornings (I would come in 10 minutes early) and in this time I would talk to her, so she became my trusted adult. The teacher partnered me up with a little boy, who I eventually felt able to talk to. My mum encouraged me to get involved with drama when I was a bit older, which was brilliant, I thnk i enjoyed being able to be someone else.

I don't know how selective mutism is dealt with now, but I just wanted you to hear from an adult who remembers being a child who felt unable to talk in certain situations.

(I am quite gobby now by the way!)

TimelyNameChangey Mon 08-Dec-14 11:05:02

Hazey that's pretty much how they dealt with my DDs situation. I thank God for that teacher...she gave up her own time to go into the playground at playtime for weeks....she organised circle games which naturally ALL the kids wanted to be part of...and made my DD be the "Games Master" so she had to deal with other kids coming up to her....she had other kids be Games MAster too so it didn't look odd...but it worked. What a kind woman she was.

lighteningmcmama Sun 14-Dec-14 15:27:43

Thank you all so much. I replied earlier in the week, it didn't post for some reasonconfused

I'm trying now to arrange playdates, finding it hard as the mums seem a bit difficult to engage, but I'll persist.

Tried to get SALT locally, can't get through on phone yet but will keep trying.

I really think they Wii reject the referral though I think it's about me and the school working on it.

Thanks all

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