It’s endless why encouraging creativity can help individuals with Selective Mutism!

Success in art and music is an excellent self-esteem booster and can help the child or teen feel special.

Playing an instrument or doing an art project is comforting and helps with feeling relaxed in a tense situation.

Focus on a task/activity rather than eye to eye contact helps minimize an individual’s anxiety and often fosters more communication.

Since implementation and facilitation of strategies is KEY to communication success, the parent or teacher can ask questions on the Stage that that the child/teen can accomplish and begin progressing the child across the Bridge. For example, if a child is able to speak to the teacher, the teacher can ask a choice question to the child to bring him into communication with peers. DO you want the red or blue marker? The teacher then acts as the Verbal Intermediary.

Creative outlets can be used as an early conversation-booster. A teacher or parent can use art/music piece as a means of facilitating communication and engaging other peers.

Creative expression can be used as a communication device. For instance, when the teacher asks a question, the child or teen with SM can ‘write,’ draw his or her answer or perhaps play notes on an instrument that represent certain words.

Art and music activities can foster comfort and peer relationships by pairing the child with other children who love art or music. Having shared interests is a wonderful way to build social comfort and relationships with peers.

Areas of interest are a wonderful way to ‘find friends’ and connect. As children get older, esp with teens, it’s these areas of interest where they find their friends.

Children with SM tend to be more creative in their learning. It is assumed that the child with SM is not able to express him or herself verbally, so instead finds other means of expression, such as music, art, or writing.

An 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 inner feelings.

In other words, using creativity as a way to build comfort, engage peers and lower anxiety is a wonderful way to help children/teens progress across the Bridge into speech!

Elisa Shipon-Blum DO