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selective mutism

20 replies

starbright · 02/08/2006 16:00

My ds who is 5 had been diagnosed with selective mutism.I have read up on the subject through various websites but wondered if anyone on mumsnet has personnel experience of this with their children.
My ds speaks in all other situations apart from school.
I worry how he will get through school and how his peers will react to him?
I am constantly worrying about this and want to protect him from any unwanted attention but I know I can't be with him all the time I don't want him being teased at school.

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starbright · 02/08/2006 17:11


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Whizzz · 02/08/2006 17:19

No experience myself, but I do remember quite a bit of discussion on the topic on here a while back when there was a child on House of Tiny Tearaways with the condition. Have you done a search on here ?

starbright · 02/08/2006 18:20

Thanks whizzz for your reply.
I have not done a search so will have a look.

I was not aware myself of selective mutism until my ds was diagnosed and I have read conflicting figures as to how many children
have SM.

It's just you could read so much on the web about SM but probably never the same as talking to people in real life about their experiences.

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Wallace · 02/08/2006 18:25

Do a search for my name and mutism and you will find a fair bit. Dd (5) has selective mutism. I haven't got the time right now, but I will try to get back to this thread later.

starbright · 02/08/2006 18:27

Thanks Wallace,that's very kind of you.

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Wallace · 03/08/2006 21:01

Haven't forgotten you Only managing quick posts at the moment due to new baby!

hairymclary · 03/08/2006 21:04

I was going to post the same as whizz about house of tiny tearaways. it was amazing, they got the kid openly talking by the end of the week.
THe main points they said were to get him used to hearing his own voice, but not to pay too much attention when he did talk because that would make him really conscious of it. So, everyone should just act normally if he talks and not make a fuss.
also, not trying to force them to talk because again that just brings attention to it.

gothicmama · 03/08/2006 21:10

hi dd was/ is sm hairy is right not to make to much of a big deal or force them to talk in situations, dd manages school really well (altho her teachjer is encouraging her friends not to talk for her) she has improved greatly since nursery when she did not speak to any one except whispering in my ear for 6 months

starbright · 05/08/2006 22:29

Thank you so much for your replys,it has been very useful.
I have searched old threads and found some interesting points.
I have searched out some websites and noticed that figures vary from how common SM is.
Some say 1 in a 1000,others 1 in 8000.
Still very confused as to the cause as I feel is it something I did or did'nt do.

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gothicmama · 05/08/2006 22:44

i think you have to accept i is just one of those things - it is pointless to summarise why as you will probably never be able to pin point the defining moment and it is how you manage it now that counts

starbright · 05/08/2006 22:57

gothicmama-Thanks for your reply.I think my guilt stems from the HV I used to have to told me when ds was 3 because he did'nt talk to her when she visitd he may have dyspraxia and that because at that time I was suffering from PND and bouts of anxiety I had caused this.
Turned out later that ds was diagnosed with selective mutism.

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matnanplus · 06/08/2006 11:15

Starbright, i really don't think it is something YOU did.

My downs foster sister is SM and believe me when i say she was talked to lots and heard lots of talk, she will talk when upset with herself and her SM extends to signing also.

The little boy of House of Tiny Tearaways - Charlie had a very chatty younger sister, he only talked really to his parents.

They got him a bear that he recorded his voice into and they got him to play back the recordings alot.

He started to reply to the other children when no adults around.

Dr Tanya also used a technique called 'sliding in' it basically involved dr T asking charlie a question via mummy and he started to answer thru his mum and then to answer directly.

Hope that is helpful, what help is being offered to your ds?

starbright · 07/08/2006 12:36

matnanplus-Thanks for your reply

I have started the sliding in technique with ds at school and was sucessful on the first day.He started to talk to teachers and one of his friends and we were all amazed the SALT included at how quickly he responded.

He is seeing a SALT and we hope to continue the sliding in after summer term.

The SALT we saw said it is genetic and as ds has a sister who is 3 who is more advanced in speech than ds was at that age shows some signs of the same problem,although the SALT says she will not necessarily copy her brothers way of prononucing things .We find that she is copying him and asked the SALT if he felt dd should be being asseses for the same speech pronblems.I am amazed that they are not suggesting this themselves.

The recording of his speech is a very good idea thanks for that we will give that a go.

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QueenEagle · 07/08/2006 12:40

ds3 has sm too. He speaks well at home although a lot of what he says is incomprehensible. He refuses to speak to anyone outside of the home including grandparents and friends.

Playgroup have been doing 1 to 1 for almost a term due to extra funding for him and he has started to talk more to the 2 women who have been with him. Progress is slow but it's better than none.

Sounds like the sliding in technique is working well for you though. I've heard that not putting too much pressure on them to talk is the way forward and not to correct when they get it wrong.

starbright · 07/08/2006 13:34

Queeneagle-My ds will occasionly speak to family but stays silent most of the time when they visit.Then as soon as they go he is back to his chatty self again.He does,nt see his one set of grandparents much as they live away but will not talk on the phone to them.
We have a visit planned soon and they have'nt seen him for over a year so not sure how he will react.My dh says hew il have a word with his parents before we go and explain the SM to them as I don't want ds dealing with any pressure on him to talk as they may not understand he is not being stubborn or rude he finds it hard to talk for fear of getting it wrong or sounding funny.That is what i have read on the subject and I know with my ds he is quite a prefectionist so probably does'nt want to get it wrong so says nothing at all.

My ds has started to repeat the last word of a sentence twice and his sister copies him.
His speech is getting better and you will probably find with your ds he will imporove.I am surprised at how much ds's speech has improved from wgen he was 3 to know he is nearly 5.I understand most things that maybe others might not,even my dh finds it hard sometimes but then I am with ds all day when dh is at work.

Your right in saying not to correct them and also from what I have learned from the various websites is not to make a big thing about it when he does talk.Some people just thing he is being rude and apparently not to say to people he is shy as that could get ingrained and then ds will think oh I don't need to talk mummy just says that I am shy.

Very difficult to know what to do in certain situations and when ds is playing up at home and getting rather loud I always feel guilty telling him to be quiet!!!

There are some other traits I have read about that SM may show which my ds does.He hates loud noises,having his nails and haircut.Also he has a fear of the toilets in school and sometimes at home,he still relys on nappies quite a bit.Does your ds display any other traits asscoiated with his SM?

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Wallace · 15/08/2006 10:58

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to this thread - first day of school today, so I have more time!

SM is nothing to do with anything you did or didn't do - dd's nursey teachers thought dd's was caused by her going to another nursery part-time(I was at college) but the psychologist says, it is usually just something that will happen anyway because it is in the child's personality, not really due to events in their life.

Dd has started school today! The speech therapist made her up some picture cards so she can tall the teacher if she needs the toilet, or is feeling unwell.

Dd has been improving so much over the last year and a half. 18 months ago she would only speak to me, ds, and 2 friends (never in nursery though) she wouldn't even speak to dh because he had been working away. Now she will speak to other close relatives, and a few adult friends. She even spoke to one of her nursery friends when she came for a play at our house.

I think she has had a bit of a setback since ds2 was born, but she will get there in the end. After more than a year of waiting, she was finally seen by the psychologist (although we have yet to get any feedback) and the SALT has been in touch, but hasn't actually seen dd yet - says not really much to be gained by visiting dd at home.

HTH a bit. Sorry if this seems a bit rambling, but am trying to type really quickly to get finished before ds2 wakes up!

Wallace · 16/08/2006 21:21

bumping in case starbright is around

starbright · 16/08/2006 22:33

Hi Wallace,just seen this.
How are you?
How did your dd get on at school?
I am so glad your dd is improving.My ds came on leaps and bounds from about 3 onwards.
He still has problems talking to certain members of my family and dh's and won't say much on the phone ethier.

I am very surprised that you say the SALT said there is not much to be gained by visiting dd at home.
I know all children are different but my ds went to about 8 session with the SALT and did'nt utter one word.
We suggested she came to see him at home .Firstly she went to the school and observed ds for a couple of hours then she walked back with us at hometime and ds started to talk on the walk home.As soon as we got home we sat out in the back garden and ds just talked and talked.Was just brilliant.I don't think the SALT could believe it.Was great as well because ds has a speech and language delay so the SALT fianally got to hear his voice and the way he pronounces words.
A lot of websites suggest that teachers etc visit a SM child at home where they feel comfortable and then gradually transfering it to a differant location.

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Wallace · 18/08/2006 10:06

Hi, my dd is really enjoying school The teacher says she is communicating (without speech), which is great because I was worried that she would go back to just blanking people out. So glad she wants to communicate

That is brilliant that your ds talked to the SALT - I may suggest thta next time I speak to our SALT.

starbright · 18/08/2006 17:49

Hi Wallace-Am pleased yout dd is enjoying school and finding her own special way to communicate.

My ds is exactly the same,he virtually skips into school and looks so confident you would never know he has SM.He tends to use a lot of hand gestures and his teacher says he sometimes gets a cheeky look on his face when he doe'nt want to do what the teacher says,he tesets the boundries.

I would discuss the home visit with your SALT ,it worked wonders with us in ds's comfort zone at home,it may be worth a try.
Good luck.

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