Normally, my children attend Sunday school, while my husband and I go to the worship service. A few weeks there was no Sunday school since there was a special children's performance in the worship center. So, my 5 and 6 year sons accompanied us; no worries, I thought. The children's musical camp was performing, and I knew the boys would enjoy it.
A few minutes into the show, my 5 year old who has Selective Mutism started talking about the show. Talking. Out loud. In church. The music was loud, so no one could really hear him, and even if they could, I would not have told him to be quiet. Not at all! In fact, I had such a difficult time containing my shock, excitement, and relief, and desire to jump out of my seat and yell WOW!! YIPPEE!! PRAISE THE LORD!! Why?
I have written several posts about S.M. and have been encouraged by the comments I have received. I write this post to continue to offer hope and inspiration to the parents and teachers of S.M. children.
See, my child has never uttered anything more than a whisper while in our large church building, and the whispers are few and far between. Not in the cafe where we enjoy donuts and juice. Not in the hallway. Not in the classroom. Not in the worship center. Not in the bathroom. He hasn't uttered an audible word/sound inside that church since he was 9 or 10 months old during his dedication when he cried out loud. In fact, since he could toddle around in the nursery, he would stop talking as soon as we entered the front doors, just like he does at preschool. He would not even whisper to his Sunday school teachers or friends.
When dealing with a child with S.M., you walk a tightrope. Too much coaxing to talk and too much praise when they do talk, can cause the child to feel anxious and shut down. When my son was talking in church, I responded to his comments and questions. We had a normal conversation. It was brief, did not distract anyone (except for me! and that was a good distraction!) and demonstrated amazing progress.
Since then, he has continued to talk more. He whispered at Bible School and just last week, talked out loud as soon as he walked out of Sunday school. If you have interacted with a child with S.M., you can feel my absolute enthusiasm!
Now, to continue to take baby steps so that my son will eventually talk out loud this year in his kindergarten classroom. The other goal is for him to talk out loud to his speech therapist.
I'm trying something new as we prepare to return to school. I created these four cute little mini certificates to give him when he does good talking in social situations. Since verbal praise, whether it is on the spot, or whether I praise at home, makes him uncomfortable, I will give him one of these "talking notes". Once he accumulates four of these, he will get a special prize. It may be a trip to the dollar store, extra computer time, or he may choose a special dessert for us to make together. I'll have him post the talking notes on the fridge.
These rewards would also work well for students in speech therapy as well!
I only created four of these, but will continue to make more.
Click the picture to grab your FREE copy in my TPT store!
I will be adding more to this collection as time permits! I started with the graphics he loves the most.
I will continue to update on his progress. I welcome your comments about your S.M. success stories!
Have a marvelous Monday!!