Music and art therapy are creative opportunities for individuals at any age to communicate and express emotions within an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation. Art and music therapy can help to relieve pain and reduce stress and anxiety, resulting in physiological changes, including improved respiration, lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate, and relaxed muscle tension.

Individuals with Selective Mutism are noted for their love of creative expression, such as art and music. Art is a favorite among children with SM. The typical child with SM can draw, color, and create for hours on end. Since they are mute in many settings, the use of art is a great means of expressing themselves. Many will choose to do art over most other classroom activities.

According to Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum‘s S-CAT® treatment for Selective Mutism, comfort precedes communication. Art and music therapy is a great way to make your child or student feel comfortable and reduce his/her anxiety.
Here are 7 reasons to encourage creative learning environments to be able to help facilitate comfortable communication:
  1. Success in art/music is a self-esteem booster and can help the individual feel successful and special.
  2. Making art and playing an instrument are comforts for most children with SM and enables them to feel more relaxed in a tense situation.
  3. Artistic expression can be used as an early conversation-booster. Since children with SM are usually very proud of their accomplishments, a teacher can use the child’s art/music as a means of talking to the child and complimenting their efforts.
  4. A child with Selective Mutism can use art and/or music to communicate. For example, when a teacher asks the child a question, the child can draw her/his answer or play notes that represent certain words.
  5. Art and music can be activities that a child with Selective Mutism can be paired or grouped with other children who love creating. Having shared interests is a wonderful way to build social comfort and relationships with others.
  6. Children with SM by nature, tend to be more creative in their learning. It is assumed that the child with SM is not able to express him/herself verbally, so instead finds other means of expression, such as music, art, or writing.
  7. A learning atmosphere where a child can learn by experimenting and touching, rather than sequential or pure rote memory is ideal for anxious children. Hands-on learning can distract anxious children by allowing them to focus on the activity rather than their feelings.
To effectively overcome Selective Mutism and all anxieties, an individual needs to be involved in a treatment program, such as those rooted in evidenced-based Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®), like Individualized Intensives and CommuniCamp™. Developed by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum, this “whole-person” treatment approach is designed to reduce anxiety, build self-esteem, increase social comfort and communication in all settings.
As a physician, Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum (“Dr. E”) views SM as a social communication anxiety where mutism is merely a symptom. The key to an effective treatment plan is understanding factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of SM as well as understanding a child’s baseline level of social communication on the Social Communication Bridge©. Then, working as a team, the treatment professional, parents, and school staff members help the child build coping skills to combat anxious feelings and to progress across the Social Communication Bridge©.