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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.

icepole Wed 16-Jan-13 22:48:55

I don't know. I will make a dr's appointment tomorrow. Would you say it is better to go with him do the dr can see or without him so he doesn't think it is an issue?

poshme Wed 16-Jan-13 23:11:48

Hi OP,
just wanted to give a teacher's perspactive for you. A few years ago I taught a boy (yr 4) with selectuve mutism. TBH I thought it was him being annoying. I'd seen him chatting to his friends, and to his mum on the way to school.
He wouldnt speak to me at all - I had to ask him yes/no questions all the time and he'd nod or not. I didnt see it as a special need - just a "precious" child/parents pandering to him. (it didnt help that I had no confidence at all in our special needs co-ordinator, so didnt really believe anything she said..)I had no experience of selective mutism at all.
We muddled though until I went on maternity leave. I now know how wrong I was.
About a year or so later (not teaching due to being SAHM) I saw a documentary about SM. It totally transfromed my view. It is a special need. It needs the right support and help. It is not a child being difficult.
However, most teachers will not have any experience of it at all. In most teachers' experiences a child who will not speak is one who is being insolent and disobedient. (I'd never heard of it in any publications etc)

I dont know if selective mutism is the issue with your DS. I just wanted to try and give an idea of how the teacher may feel about it. IMO definitely worth getting further expert help - and if possible getting that expert help to try and explaim to the teacher.

(PS - the boy I taught gradually started talking 1:1 with teachers, and then in class just answering yes to the register to the teacher close-up. As far as I know he is still quieter generally than the rest of the kids, but is now happy to put his hand up and speak aloud)

poshme Wed 16-Jan-13 23:16:21

I hope I havent offended anyone. I've just read that all back. It sounds like I didnt care - I did, but didnt understand. I think many parents think that teachers know all about all special needs, when actually the training can be very limited.
As a more experienced teacher (and esp now as a parent) I am far better at dealing with stuff thats a bit out of the ordinary.

icepole Wed 16-Jan-13 23:36:49

Not offended at all, was very honest! Actually I am a teacher myself, secondary, so I totally know what you mean about the lack if training to deal with particular needs/issues. It's another reason I am so anxious, I have seen pupils not being given what they need by the system so many times. Children falling through the gaps, being let down. If I had the nerve I would home school. Teaching has put me off schools totally, not the teachers who are mostly slogging their guts out but everything else. The system and what it does to pupils and staff.

BigcatLittlecat Wed 16-Jan-13 23:54:37

Hi there!
We had a child in our reception who would not talk at all! Lots of head nodding and pointing! We had the advice to leave it and not make a fuss. Now 2 years later they talk and take part in everything.
I think what helped as hey were talking at home was the class teacher would pop up to the house after school and have a cup if tea and the child could see the link between school and home. They started talking very quietly to friends and then yes/no until taking a full part in class. Its not a quick process but it mustn't become such a big thing that the child does not see a way out. School should in my opinion be very supportive.

birdsnotbees Thu 17-Jan-13 00:03:10

I have no experience of this but wanted to say I'd be livid if the teacher had done that to my son. Your DS wasn't being naughty and keeping him in at break is entirely at odds with the psych advice to leave him be/not draw attention to it. Like poshme says, you need to get a diagnoses so that the teacher understands the difference between a special need and a kid playing up.

happynewmind Thu 17-Jan-13 00:04:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StillSmilingAfterAllTheseYears Thu 17-Jan-13 11:45:16

You don't need a dx to get an agreement with school about what is appropriate. I think you need some pushy parent pills wink. I would just go in and ask the head to explain why this punishment was applied, how it is likely to make things worse etc. Then get agreement what will happen in future.

Sometimes kicking off is ok you know smile.

And no, don't take him to dr. He doesn't need the worry.

I think the idea any person, let alone a teacher, still views things kids do that only cause themselves problems as 'insolent' is bloody shocking. Its like when my dad was hit for having a stammer ffs. I didn't know the term 'selective mute' til about 6 months ago but its pretty obvious if they could just answer they would. Grrr. Poor kids.

AlwaysHoldingOnToStarbug Sat 19-Jan-13 01:15:06

I guess DS4 was a selective mute. He would not talk in the classroom at all, though strangely was fine in the playground. He was put into a nurture group to help him - he chatted away happily in it but still wouldn't speak in class. Even if I was in his classroom he wouldn't talk to me.

Although he was never diagnosed officially (I'm not sure the school actually knew what to do with him!) his teachers were all very understanding, though it didn't help that his class unfortunately went through 6 teachers in two years so he'd end up getting used to one and then they'd leave and he'd have another new teacher.

He was never punished for not talking, and he was never made to feel bad. It went on through year 1 & year 2. He finally started mouthing words to one of his teachers, then he would go up to her to answer the register quietly. Year 3 saw a breakthrough, he began very quietly answering the register while sitting with the other children and gradually worked up to him saying it loud enough for the whole class to hear. he'd also read one to one and actually really liked reading with a year 6 child.

Year 3 ended with him saying a couple of lines in assembly in front of the whole school, leaving me in tears and his teacher bursting with pride! (And other staff members thinking it was his twin who had no problems talking!)

He's now in year 4 and on his first parents evening his teacher said he hadn't realised there'd ever been a problem! Although quiet he's happy to talk in front of the class and will answer questions.

I've asked him why he didn't talk but he's never been able to answer.

I've been very pleased with the way the school handled it, it was a new thing for all of us and I think they were very gentle with him and it has paid off.

I think you need to talk to the teacher and the Head if necessary, probably the Senco too. If the Ed Psych has said to leave him be then that is what they should be doing. These things take time and punishing him will probably only make things worse in the long run - he's not going to want to talk to a teacher who punishes him and doesn't understand.

catnipkitty Sat 19-Jan-13 09:12:14

DD1 who is now nearly 9 was like this at preschool and in reception year. She wouldn't talk to her (lovely) teacher in reception at all, in fact it took her 2 terms to even make eye contact with her, at which point the teacher came bounding over to me at pick up time and told me that DD1 had finally interacted with her and how pleased she was grin. I did look in to selective mutism at the time and followed advice about this. She improved slowly in YR, took a step backwards at the beginning of Yr1 and Yr2 and is still very shy and not keen to talk to adults at all but she is gradually improving...
It is horrible to think that your child is so distressed, good luck
C xx

ClareMarriott Sat 19-Jan-13 10:27:35


I used to only speak when entirely necessary when I was small so I can appreciate how your son feels. In her book You Can Heal Your Life, Louise L Hay says the throat " represents our ability to speak up for ourselves, to ask for what we want and to say I am" She goes on to say that the throat also represents the creative flow in the body so it might be that if your son enjoys creative things, whatever they may be, then you really encourage them and see what happens.

icepole Sat 19-Jan-13 13:57:29

That is interesting, he is very creative which we encourage. He gets to do lots of craft at home and says he wants to be an artist when he grows up. He will spend hours on his own projects at home, I was worried that school might stifle that part of him a bit - he says he is bored a lot although he liked this week as they were doing shapes.

insanityscratching Sat 19-Jan-13 15:35:52

Have you asked to see a speech therapist? My son he's 17 has/had selective mutism (he is speaking at present) A SALT should be advising the school of strategies to use so that your ds is treated appropriately and sensitively.

icepole Sat 19-Jan-13 20:55:27

No but I will ask about this. They seem to be leaving him too it basically.

lljkk Sun 20-Jan-13 13:36:47

I think selective mutism is increasingly recognised, I know 2 children age 11 with it. Good luck.

icepole Fri 01-Feb-13 10:43:37

Just to update that we have seen a dr who thinks it is selective mutism so at least we have a starting place for getting help although I think it is all going to take time.

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