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Arlin Cuncic

October is Selective Mutism Awareness Month

By October 18, 2009

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Selective mutism is a form of social anxiety that renders a child or adult unable to speak in certain social situations. For children with selective mutism, heading back to school in the fall can be more than just a drag. It can be the beginning of anxiety-filled days, lonely lunches, and pressure to speak from teachers.

Middle-school teacher Eileen Dame has written an interesting account of her experiences teaching a boy with undiagnosed selective mutism. Above all else, she stresses the importance of recognizing the disorder in children so that the problem can be addressed. Although selective mutism is more prevalent than obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome, it often goes undiagnosed.

Below are some tips for teachers of students with selective mutism according to Dame.

  • Remove all pressure on the student to speak.

  • Let the child know you will not call on him unless his hand is raised.

  • Do not comment about his silence or make a big deal out of it if he does speak.

  • Be aware that the student cannot ask you for help. Quietly review material and instructions if it seems the student does not understand.

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November 21, 2009 at 9:56 pm
(1) Marcie says:

My daughter has always been extremely anxious in some situations (and yet extremely extroverted in others; when feeling very safe and comfortable, around those she is closest to). Last year, in grade one, she did not speak at all the entire year to her teacher (or anyone) while inside the school. Yet, she would run outside for recess and play, laugh, talk, and would look just like all the other kids. When the bell sounded, she would head back inside, hand up her coat, walk in the classroom and not say another word until she was off the bus and in my arms. Thank you for this place to read, learn, share and feel “understood”. All the best!

May 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm
(2) Valentina Marquez says:

My son was diagnosed with SM when he was in kindergarten. He is now in 3rd grade. It has been heartbreaking to see him have to endure the anxiety. However, we have been fortunate enough to have an understanding school. His friends all know what he has and there are no expectations on him to speak. He does express himself in his own way.
His father and I have been very involved to ensure he gets the services and support he needs.
Please parents speak up for your children with SM because they are unable to do it for themselves!!

June 25, 2013 at 7:11 am
(3) Angel Rosa says:

How are you doing? My name is Angel, from the Selective Mutism Network. We are a Non Profit Organization, that helps children and adults with Selective Mutism. Please visit our website for more information, and contact us if you have any questions. Thank you.

August 14, 2013 at 6:17 am
(4) Jacqueline says:

L live in Nashville Tn. I really want to do a Selective Mute Awareness walk in October my daughter is SM. and she is now 14 a lot of people don’t take this serious or never heard of it I like to do this in October 2013 start out small and next year build it up.

August 31, 2013 at 1:46 pm
(5) Angel Harris says:

I also live in NAshville. We are trying to find out what is going on with our 6 year old and I think this may be it. Do you have any recomendations of doctors in our area.

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