A short update: My now 12 year old formerly SM child has 18 lines (18!) of dialogue in the school play she tried out for this year in middle school. She’s beyond thrilled! And so is this mama! As many of you know, have experienced in your own journeys with your SM kids, you don’t know if you’ll EVER see your child relax into who they are enough to shine bright. It’s a scary, saddening thought.
Show of hands: How many of you shed tears, felt sick to your stomach for your child, stayed up long hours researching selective mutism? I bet all of you otherwise you would never be here reading this blog. 🙂
My concern for her was three-fold: That she be able to 1) convey herself verbally, particularly to be able to demonstrate her ability to read/comprehend at the appropriate level for her and participate in classroom activities, 2) express her thoughts and feelings and 3) deal with others when they cross her personal boundaries (the former year, she had some classmates get into her face, touch and bother her and she had no way to say stop it, or even tell the teacher – she only told me after she came home and fell apart first).
For my part, I spent a lot of time after school with my daughter (and her sisters), letting them play at the park attached to school, attending all special activities at the school, and showing her that school was a safe and fun place to learn. We also did a lot of sensory based activities at home, because her pediatric neuropsychologist believed her anxiety would be reduced if we were to address the sensory issues she had, and I just did not have the money to spend on formal SPD therapy.
The idea was to help her feel safe and happy and ReLaXeD at the school.
My daughter had mild sensory integration issues (mostly related to hearing and vestibular perception) and so both at home and in preschool, she was exposed to sensory-based activities. I got her outside in the park A LOT. Climbing, swinging on the tire swing, balancing on things were so helpful.
Intellectually, I don’t think she was challenged enough in the regular preschool either, but her special needs preschool teacher saw her abilities and found some more challenging things she could do. Completely on her own, she gave my daughter the Bracken School Readiness test, a test “that is currently used in admittance to the New York City Gifted and Talented Program, as well as other G&T programs and private schools around the country.” [http://testingforkindergarten.com/tag/bracken-school-readiness-assessment].
She scored exceptionally high on that test.
Her preschool goals for her IEP for preschool were as follows:
– to label a variety of nouns and verbs
– demonstrate protest or denial (no I don’t want to)
– to call her teacher and peers in class by name
– to make comments/name items to show others
– to use words to express her feelings (mad, sad, scared, happy)
– to participate in spoken conversation for 2 to 3 turns that is reported and initiated by the adult
– to reciprocate in spoken conversation with adults and peers on a variety of topics.
[As a side note: because she didn’t have the same accommodations in the community preschool, and NO trampoline, she didn’t progress there much at all. At least until I was able to remind the special needs teacher she was going to spend some time with my daughter in the regular classroom and talk to that teacher about what was working for her in the special needs classroom. In my estimation…accommodations matter a GREAT deal].
During the second semester at preschool, the speech teacher went to the American Speech and Language Association’s seminar on selective mutism and realized right away one thing that they could start doing that would help. The speech teacher would take my daughter on errands around the school (the office, the nurse, etc) where she would then 1) get to know the school building and the adults on staff (and they would get to know her too) and 2) interact with the staff. The speech teacher would assist her at first, then she’d encourage my daughter to speak.
Her kindergarten goals
– Begins conversation
– Continues conversation
– Ends conversations
– Interacts with a variety of peers
– Participates willingly in new situations
– Shares information and ideas to describe, explain, predict
– Contributes to conversation by listening and responding
– Uses spoken language for a variety of purposes and to express ideas, feelings and needs.
And she then no longer needed her IEP. And I was beyond the moon with joy.