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Selective mutism


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Hi all

 

I wondered if any of you wonderful, experienced and clever practitioners had any advice on selective mutism. The child in my setting that has this, chatters away at home fine but will only whisper the occasional few words at Pre-School. It is interfering with her social development as she is not able to join in fully with the complex play that her peers are engaging in. She is 4 years old and has been with us for a few months now. The nursery she attended before she came to us reported that she would not speak there either, despite going for 2 and a half years. They too just got the occasional whispered word, which of course, in a busy environment is very difficult to hear.

 

I have tried to find out information on the condition but it seems to be sadly lacking when it comes to how to support the child. Has anyone had any experience of this and if so, what strategies did you use to help? Currently I give the child 1-1 quiet time to try and encourage her confidence in speaking to me (I am her key person). The children say "***** can't talk" and this is not helping the situation.

 

Many thanks

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I had a little boy who did this, many years ago, and it was initially very frustrating. He would start chatting as soon as he had walked down the path on his way home at the end of the session and would speak to me if I met him in town with his family. I gave him a camera to take pictures of the things he liked at preschool - his favourite toys etc, and asked him to let me know, by pulling my sleeve or whatever, if he wanted me to get something out for him to take pictures of. We printed his pictures and sat together to decide which ones we wanted. We stuck them in an exercise book. That was all we did, mainly him nodding or shaking his head, or occasionally whispering. Then he took pictures of children he liked playing with and we did the same. This was over a few weeks, not all at once. Once we had stuck them in the book, I asked him to show me the book, and just to see if he would speak, I asked him to show it to the friends he had identified and photographed. He did speak then, explaining the things he liked to play with. It all took a little while, but it was very worthwhile.

I think the best advice is just to accept that this is the way it is, and not push. Might she speak if she thinks it's not her speaking, with something like a glove puppet?

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http://www.essexlocaloffer.org.uk/sites/default/files/Selective%20Mutism%20Good%20Practice%20Guidelines.pdf

 

Lots of good info here.

 

We have had quite a few children with SM, I would also refer to SALT or if you can have a chat with them

best tips from me

Don't demand speech

explain to the other children that she is shy and quite capable of talking and listening!

Place her next to you not in opposition.

If she talks take it in your stride ...do not take note of it or praise it, this will just deflect attention to them which will stop them doing it.

Praise them for play/art/gm skills..whatever you can, to support self esteem

Edited by finleysmaid
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Thanks very much for all the good advice. I have used puppets but no luck with those yet. I will try all the tips suggested and back off from asking for speech. I'll report back with any progress :)

 

if you are on tapestry you could get Mum/Dad to record 'evidence' at home and post it to you...meaning you can assess more! be careful though i'm not sure how the child would view this so that conversation might need to be held with parents.

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Thanks very much for all the good advice. I have used puppets but no luck with those yet. I will try all the tips suggested and back off from asking for speech. I'll report back with any progress :)

This is really useful info for us too. We have a child same age and same issues. Key person was running out of ideas but I will flag this up to her.

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if you are on tapestry you could get Mum/Dad to record 'evidence' at home and post it to you...meaning you can assess more! be careful though i'm not sure how the child would view this so that conversation might need to be held with parents.

Funnily enough, I had exactly that conversation with her mum this morning. Mum is also coming into the setting for a session next week to see if she will speak to me or her peers with her support.

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Funnily enough, I had exactly that conversation with her mum this morning. Mum is also coming into the setting for a session next week to see if she will speak to me or her peers with her support.

so same rules apply to Mum don't force her to speak ! if she does great but don't talk about it in front of her.

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The above info sheet is not mine...I have to confess ....check out eyfs-sen free to join lots of info on there!!!

 

 

sorry cant post link as it appears to come up with my account!! i'll see if I can find a better link to it

Edited by finleysmaid
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so same rules apply to Mum don't force her to speak ! if she does great but don't talk about it in front of her.

I will make sure I tell her that before she comes in. She does have a habit of talking about things in front of her daughter which I have never agreed with. Thanks FM, good advice. :1b

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We had a girl in FS2 with SM, mum used to record her reading her book, this delevoped into mum coming in and sitting in a small room reading with her and her teacher sat at the next table 'pretending' not to listen. In phonics at the end of the year she used to whisper into a talking peg outside the room and then bring it in for me to listen to. In Year 1 and 2 she developed into talking within the safety of the classroom and whispering into her friends ears. It is a very slow process but we are getting there with her.

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We had a girl in FS2 with SM, mum used to record her reading her book, this delevoped into mum coming in and sitting in a small room reading with her and her teacher sat at the next table 'pretending' not to listen. In phonics at the end of the year she used to whisper into a talking peg outside the room and then bring it in for me to listen to. In Year 1 and 2 she developed into talking within the safety of the classroom and whispering into her friends ears. It is a very slow process but we are getting there with her.

I am realising now that I will probably not have a miraculous breakthrough with this little girl's difficulty before she leaves us in July which was what I was hoping for. I will focus on making her feel as comfortable in her environment as possible see how it goes from there. After reading your experience, jocrow, maybe having mum coming in on a regular basis will facilitate more verbal communication. We are situated in the primary school she will attend so I will be able to do an extended transition for her and help her to be completely familiar with the new adults and surroundings ready for September.

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