My five year old will be starting kindergarten in late August at the same school where he attended pre-school the last two years. And, thankfully this is the school where I work and where his older brother attends. Although Christopher has made tremendous progress with his S.M., he still will not talk out loud, but he does whisper to me and to his teachers. So, I created something for him to use to communicate with his new teacher which hopefully will ease his anxiety just a bit. Click on the picture to grab your copy. I will explain below why these cards are helpful to these little sweeties who struggle to communicate in a school setting.
Selective Mutism is very rare and you may never have had a student with this disorder. In twenty-three years of teaching, I never had. However, you never know, and if you do have such a student or are the parent of a S. M. child, I hope you will find this useful. My research comes from several sources:
- From Dr. Dr. Shipon-Blum, a renowned expert in the field. Her website is chock full of helpful information, handouts, and articles for parents and teachers.
- From The Selective Mutism Group- find it here
- From the book Helping Your Child with Selective Mutism: Practical Steps to Overcome a Fear of Speaking byAngela E. McHolm, Charles E. Cunningham, Melanie K. Vanier
- My experience as a mom with my son for the last five years
What does Selective Mutism look like? Although there are many variances, some children, including my son exhibited these symptoms:
- Extreme shyness in and out of the home- even with friends and relatives. Christopher would cling to me and hide his face when his grandparents would visit. He would not talk to his cousins or other relatives. The anxiety was worse when visiting others outside our home, at church, doctor appointments, etc..
- A countenance marked by a look of fear, panic, seriousness and a frozen stare
- No smiles
- Little to no gesturing- no pointing, nodding of the head, raising hand, etc.
- A mute, withdrawn, unhappy child that does not interact with others. After two years, Christopher is doing parallel play at school instead of playing by himself
- A happy, sometimes loud, boisterous, talkative, and social child in the home and with neighborhood friends
The communication cards I made are sometimes part of a recommended treatment plan. I did not find cards, so I made my own. I used mostly pictures because Christopher cannot read yet besides a few sight words. I tried to pick the ones I thought he would use the most and did not want to overwhelm him.
Tomorrow, I will talk about what S.M sounds like, diagnoses and treatment, and how the classroom teacher can make accommodations.
Please realize that I am not an expert in this field, but have done the research and am the parent of a S. M. child. To this day, I have only ever met one other parent who has a child with S.M. As lonely as this disorder is for the children, so it is for the parents. My prayer is that my blogging will assist other parents and teachers who interact with these children.
Have a magnificent Monday