This is a short blog post about supporting children with selective mutism. All children are different so these tips may work with some children and not with others.
Selective mutism – what is it?
It’s an anxiety disorder where children are unable to communicate effectively in certain social settings. Children with selective mutism may communicate really well at home and not speak at all at school.
Usually children with selective mutism have a social phobia – fear of embarrassment or being judged negatively.
Tips to support a child with selective mutism;
- Create a relaxed environment – don’t put pressure on the child to speak – he/she will speak when they feel ready.
- Make sure the child has simple hand signals/signs for needing help, toilet etc. (This will avoid any added pressures for the child)
- Seat the child with friends/people they like. Choose small groups of children to work with the child – playing games which encourage talking – Guess Who, Yes and No Game, Social Skills Game. Download here
- Set up talking opportunities. (Ask other adults to help- SNA, Resource/Learning Support Teacher, Principal, Deputy Principal, other teachers- Usually the child may talk to 1/2 people/ adults – these are people the child trusts and feels comfortable around.)
- Write a social story with the child.