Even though my daughter has recovered from selective mutism, I still take an interest and search for useful websites to add to my resources for other parents. I still find it my desire to provide up-to-date resources and hope for parents of children who struggle with selective mutism.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better website in dealing with the behaviors of selective mutism and the insightful understanding to go along with them than I have at Opening Closed Doors.
Mrs. Cohen is “a social skills, self development and selective mute specialist who has successfully developed many unique methods.”
Some very interesting and helpful blog posts.
These children are dying for someone to speak to them! Speak to them constantly, just don’t ask questions. Use words like, ‘I noticed…’ or ‘I was wondering…’ instead. ‘I noticed that you got a new haircut. I wonder who gave it to you. It looks so professional.’ ‘I noticed that you colored all the flowers red. I wonder what color you will make the house.
A smart, talented child who is not showing his abilities in front of his peers must be feeling frustrated to the nth degree. Understand his behavior in terms of a spring; if a spring is pushed down and pushed down some more, when it is finally released, it will jump very high.
When release hour comes, when he finally comes home from school, all that unused energy has to go somewhere, and he is like a spring suddenly let go. Sometimes these children become very wild, as in your case; sometimes they cannot stop talking and chatter away without a stop. The former is typical behavior for boys, the latter, for girls.
As a parent, however, it is imperative to turn heaven and earth over in order to help your daughter. Including kindergarten, she has already spent at least 9 years not speaking in school! Do you realize what this means? If she is like most selective mutes, she is smart, capable, and talented, with tons of potential waiting to burst forth from her. Yet, she sits by, day after relentless day, not being able to show her abilities. Without friends, she probably has no one to sit with at lunch time, no one to walk to classes with, no one to shmooze with on the bus, no one to play with at recess time, no one to chum around with. She is probably excluded from parties, games, and performances. With no one paying attention to her, no one calling on her in class, no one including her in anything, she must feel totally invisible – how heart rending! Her self- esteem must be at ground zero by now, and she must be extremely angry at the system for not having helped her till now. Her very life blood has been snuffed out of her.
For the preschool or kindergartner, rather than looking for an experienced teacher with a big class,
look for the teaching style of the teacher, rather than how experienced the teacher is. If everything could be perfect, you would be looking for a teacher who is flexible, fun loving and not so structured, as opposed to a strict disciplinarian who tries to pack in as much learning as possible.
How to explain the older child’s selective mutism to a teacher or principal, don’t use the words ‘shy’, ‘timid’ or ‘selectively mute’ to describe your child.
Always start out with your [child’s] strong qualities: “She is an excellent student, she is a fine sincere girl who will never be a motivational problem or a discipline problem. She is a sensitive person with a heart of gold, willing to help anyone in need.” This usually describes most selective mutes, and add any other strong points to make your case. Then you may say, “She has a hard time opening up in new situations and may shut down in an interview. She is usually a deep person who can speak seriously and well once she gets comfortable with a person.”
The issues that usually have to be addressed are the following:
Understanding and building self-esteem
Learning to be assertive
Learning how to find, make and keep meaningful friends
Learning to take 100% responsibility for their life.
In addition to offering a 4-disc set on selective mutism, you can contact her for phone consultations. Please spread the word on this compassionate resource.