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Selective Mutism

(19 Posts)
Smokedsalmonbagel Tue 13-Sep-11 20:45:44

I have been looking through all the old posts and they have been really helpful but just wondering if anyone is dealing with this now.

A bit of background DS1 started school today. He has been at pre school for a year where he didn't speak at all and nursery where he spoke a little. At home he doesn't stop talking and is a bright boy. In general when we are out he is fairly confident but will clam up if a stranger talks to him. Today he said he enjoyed school but the teacher said he didn't speak. He played and looked happy.

I am not sure what to do. Do I wait and give him some time to settle in or does he need a referral to SALT or SENCO.

Anyway just after bit of support. Its heartbreaking. A few of the children from preschool are in his class and a couple said DS2 can't talk!!!

Smokedsalmonbagel Tue 13-Sep-11 20:46:36

Meant DS1.

DS2 can't talk as he is a baby!

menopausemum Tue 13-Sep-11 21:56:13

Hi, this is fairly common, particularly with chidlren who are in full day care. It can start as a way of taking control of a situation when they have no other way but it can turn into a habit that is difficult to break. I don't think you need a SALT as he obviously speaks perfectly well at home. I would think that if he's happy at school he will start to speak there. One approach is to blur the boundaries between school and home i.e. you or other members of the family spending some time in school or inviting other children home one at a time. This way he may (hopefully) see school as just an extension of home. Try not to worry, you certainly aren't on your home. Many years ago the health visitor wanted my son to see a SALT just because he would never utter a word when she was there. They are all different.

wasuup3000 Wed 14-Sep-11 10:43:35

Try If you register they have advice forums.

whenIgetto3 Wed 14-Sep-11 11:16:48

My DS had a boy in his class with selective mutism the way they helped him was the teacher would phone him at home every now and then and talk to him on the phone (he would talk back as he was at home and happy). Then at school he would whisper in her ear or draw a picture/sign what he wanted.They made big efforts as a class to include him in everything, he was in the school play etc (didn't speak but walked on did a dance then walked off). The other children were not allowed to make fun of him (very good anti bullying policy in place) and when he did speak there was no reaction from the teachers (positive or negative) just treated as a normal child speaking.

Now a year on in a new class they are complaining they can't shut him up in school grin

Smokedsalmonbagel Wed 14-Sep-11 13:16:33

Thanks for the advice.

I like the idea of the teacher phoning him at home. Although the teacher and TA did a home visit but he didn't talk to them so not sure if it would work.

I think I am going to wait until half term before I contact anyone. He seemed happy to go in today which is good. He is on half days for the first couple of weeks so I wonder how he will be when he is full time.

At home he talks all day, I am hoping he won't be able to remain silent for 6 hours a day. The other part of it is at home he is over confident. Not sure if this is because of the not talking or whether he is being a typical 4 year old.

DeWe Wed 14-Sep-11 14:29:59

I would think it's probably a bit early to worry. Both dd1 and ds will say very little until they know you, when they will start non-stop talking. Ds has some hearing problems (glue ear, has grommets) and talks much less when his hearing reduces, or if it's a noisy environment. Has he had hearing tested?
Ds is under SALT, but that's pronunciation due to hearing loss rather than lack of vocabulary.

Dd2 otoh is definitely on the can't shut her up whether she knows you or not.

IndigoBell Wed 14-Sep-11 15:06:46

Um, if he's not speaking at all at school, I wouldn't wait till half term to discuss it with school.

And the appropriate people to discuss it at school with is the teacher and the SENCO.

Smokedsalmonbagel Wed 14-Sep-11 21:41:02

DeWe - Thanks. His hearing has been tested and it was fine.

Indigo - I have discussed it with the teacher. She wants to see how he goes. He has only been there 2 half days. Have you any experience of children that don't talk?

IndigoBell Wed 14-Sep-11 21:47:38

I don't have any experience. But why don't you post on the SN Children board, it get's lots of traffic.

And there's def one person on the primary board whose child was a selective mute at school due to bullying - but I forget who smile

Anyway, the good news is you've discussed it with the teacher, and she'll then discuss it with the SENCO. 2 half days isn't very long, but I think I'd definitely be talking to the teacher again after 2 weeks.

Smokedsalmonbagel Wed 14-Sep-11 22:03:42

Ok thanks.

Wasn't sure where to post, will prob repost on the SN board.

He is doing afternoons for 2 weeks, so will see how that goes.

jamsandwich Thu 15-Sep-11 22:05:17

I wouldn't just leave it. This was dd1 when she started school. Luckily, I'd been able to get some professional input in the year before school started, so things were in place when she entered Reception and lo, she began very gradually to speak in the second half term. I'll never know whether she would have just done this of her own accord, but I just felt it was too big a risk to take to not act.

So, I'd definitely recommend going to the SMIRA site as Wasuup recommends - the people there are fantastic; get the Selective Mutism Handbook by Maggie Johnson - tells you everything you need to know and will give you the confidence to start insisting on some support from the school.

Like menopausemum says, try to blur the boundaries - I volunteered for everything in school and went into overdrive with playdates so dd1 saw the new pals in her home environment as much as poss. We used to do lots of visits to the classroom when it was empty, to get dd1 feeling able to speak to me there when we were alone; then we would go into class early so she'd be speaking to me as the teacher busied herself around and then I'd try to keep it going as the kids came in. I also did some sessions in the class with a TA and dd1, then introduced some of her friends. Then the challenge was to help her feel safe to speak when I wasn't there...The whole thing was lots of tiny steps and the SM handbook will help you break it down like this.

The SENCO can help, as can SALT and/ or Educational Psychologist - but if you are lucky enough to have a good teacher, that can be enough. Hopefully your ds will start speaking spontaneously soon, but just in case, I think it's good idea to start getting something in place. Good Luck!

MuggleMum Fri 16-Sep-11 08:51:03

I taught a kid in Reception and Year 1 who was a selective mute - she was absorbing everything and choosing her moment. For whatever reason she needed to be in control. We put no pressure on her to speak at all (got very good at posing yes/no questions for essential info to which she could nod or shake). When she started speaking it was instantly totally normal and she's never looked back. Seek help behind the scenes perhaps, but on the surface keep very calm. (Good luck - I realise it is not easy.)

Foxinsocks Fri 16-Sep-11 08:54:04

I wouldn't leave it either. Dd has a girl in her class who is a selective mute. They have just started secondary school and the girl is still not speaking (having been with her for primary school).

Always better to put in strategies early smile.

Smokedsalmonbagel Tue 20-Sep-11 19:38:58

Again thank you for the replies, a lot to think about.

The last 2 days he has started whispering to the teacher and TA. I am so pleased but also know there is still a long way to go. He hasn't spoken to any children yet. One of the boys in his class he has known for about 2 years and sees often. So hoping this will help.

I am still worried as its only half the class this week and he has been getting a lot of attention from the teacher. Not sure how he will feel once there are 30 children in the class.

Its also strange when we go to the park after school he will chat happily to his friends. The park is literally next to the school.

I think I need to see now next week goes. I have the details of the SENCO so will contact her next week if no further improvement.But I am so proud of the progress he has made in a week.

SanctiMoanyArse Tue 20-Sep-11 19:42:41

Give it the week and good to see it's moving forwards BUT if you ahve any doubts get on SLT lists; tehya re long and help can take ages, there really is no point in delaying- you an take yourself off a waiting list but you can't jump the queue from behind.

I know it's horrible making that jump from concerned to asking for formal help (done it myself X 4 plus have worked in related fields). But waiting lists are long and SLT support like gold dust.

FozzieMK Wed 21-Sep-11 11:14:43

My daughter has selective mutism and is now 15. We put her into private school at 5 years old for this reason, we thought the small classes and more individual attention would be better for her. At the age of 7 when there appeared to be no improvement, apart from being able to read out aloud in class, we enlisted the help of the school SENCO. Being a private school we had to pay for an Ed Psych report and assessments. This was a very expensive business. We also saw a Clinical Psych and a Speech Therapist all of whom we had to pay for because she was in a private school. The Clinical Psych could find nothing wrong with her and he spent expensive hours with her until he decided to shelve the case until the next year when I was to come back to him if she hadn’t improved. The Speech Therapist decided she couldn’t help because my daughter could speak perfectly well at home and in fact passed Lamda speech and drama exams with distinction. She didn’t know what to do next. The wonderful Ed Psych the school found seemed baffled but ultimately decided she had Aspergers! This had been dismissed positively by the Clinical Psych at the local hospital. The Ed Psych wrote an expensive report which labelled her as autistic even though I totally disagreed. The school then sent all the teachers on an autism course so that they could deal with her! Imagine how all this made her feel. At that point I made the decision not to seek any more medical help of any kind as it seemed to be doing more harm than good.

The one good thing about the Prep school she attended was that it offered lots of speech and drama, performances and musical instrument lessons. All of this has meant that although she finds it difficult to talk to people face to face, she is able to stand up and either sing or recite solo in front of 200 people. We therefore know that she is capable of overcoming her problems, hopefully it will happen in time.

She has moved on to a fantastic small private senior school where she is accepted as she is and is never singled out by the teachers for her ‘shyness’. She is still able and willing to ‘perform’ to an audience but unable to make conversation unless she is answering someone.

My advice would be to watch the professionals you choose to help your son closely and the moment you feel that they are wrongly labelling him or making him feel ‘different’ pull the plug. If he is able to whisper to his teacher then this is a big step forward. My daughter used to send notes to the teachers until she felt happy talking to them. I know this is so worrying, but my daughters own feelings of awkwardness have made her very self-sufficient and stoical simply because she doesn’t want to ask for help or doesn’t want to answer so people can’t argue with her! It does have advantages, good luck.

ragged Wed 21-Sep-11 11:17:21

Oh, that's brilliant that he's started whispering to adults.
I still know a boy who is in y6 and still doesn't talk at school or in front of adults he vaguely knows (complete strangers and close family/friends are okay, it's just acquaintances he clams up around). In school he whispers to his mum if she comes in to help and to one of his neighbours also in his class (they go lurk by the fence to chat in private).
He knows he's got himself into a bind because whenever he finally speaks he will be a huge centre of attention, which is exactly what he doesn't want.

I'd say your DS is already leaps ahead of the lad I know, OP, just hold your nerve. I bet he'll come thru okay, just ask the teaching staff to take it really low-key, don't pressure him to talk whatever they do.

I am on some of the old MN threads (different user name). Not my child with SM but two in my child's class I met in y1.... the mothers of these two boys took completely different approaches to it, one very laid back hands off no pressure (lad I still slightly know) and the other very proactive get all the professionals involved. I can't see that either tactic was better, it really came down to the boys themselves feeling ready.

merlincat Wed 21-Sep-11 11:30:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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