Selective mutism - help at school
Before joining the school / nursery
- Check how well I understand and speaks at home, including the extent to which they speak outside the home.
- Prior to the child joining the school it is helpful to familiarise me with an adult from the school.
- If I don’t know anyone at the school introduce me to at least one child in my class.
- It helps me to visit the school or nursery at a time when the children are not there so I can become familiar with the empty building.
- In a nursery setting letting my parents/carers initially stay with me can help settle me.
In the classroom
- Do not put any pressure on me to talk. Just explain that you understand that it is difficult for me, and that I can talk when I am ready.
- Creating an accepting and rewarding atmosphere helps me feel valued.
- Identifying one adult to form a special bond with me helps build rapport and confidence.
- Encourage me to interact with other children, especially with a quieter child.
- Do not insist on eye contact.
- Group activities like chanting or reciting a well known rhyme can be helpful.
- Do not make the register an issue for me.
- It helps to adapt the curriculum so I can achieve tasks non verbally.
- Make sure I don’t get extra attention for silence or over rely on alternative forms of communication.
- Keep open and relaxed communication between school and my parents / carers.
- Keep an eye out for any other developmental or educational difficulties.
- Be mindful of possible teasing or bulling towards me.
- When changing class, the handover needs to be carefully planned.
- Include individual targets for confidence building and independence.
It makes a huge difference for me to know that there is an adult at my school who knows all about my condition and who I can talk to if I am worried or unwell.