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
Elisa Shipon-Blum DO, is the President and Director of the Selective Mutism Anxiety and Related Disorders Treatment Center (SMart Center) located in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. She is the Founder and Director Emeritus of the Selective Mutism Association (SMA) and a Director of the Selective Mutism Research Institute (SMRI), a foundation established to study Dr. Shipon-Blum’s theories and treatment methodologies on Selective Mutism. In addition, Dr Shipon-Blum is Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology & Family Medicine at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is a board certified physician who specializes in Selective Mutism.
Dr. Shipon-Blum practices in Jenkintown, PA, and has developed the evidenced-based Social Communication Anxiety Treatment (S-CAT)® from her years studying and researching individuals with Selective Mutism. She consults worldwide with families, treating professionals, and educators, and has helped thousands of children from around the world overcome Selective Mutism. Based on her successful S-CAT® program, Dr. E also created CommuniCamp™, an intensive group treatment program for children with Selective Mutism, social anxiety, and extreme shyness.
Dr. Shipon-Blum lectures throughout the country on the topic of Selective Mutism, performs school evaluations and training for treating professionals, educators, and parents, and is considered one of the world’s leading experts in the treatment, research, and understanding of Selective Mutism. She has been a featured expert on national television programs such as 20/20, CNN, Inside Edition, and Good Morning America, as well as other local, national, and international television and radio broadcasts. In addition, she has been featured in TIME Magazine, People Magazine, and has interviewed with newspapers such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Diego Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Palm Beach Post.
Dr. Shipon-Blum is presently involved in multiple collaborative research projects with top researchers and clinicians. In addition to her research she has written numerous articles and books on Selective Mutism and anxiety including ‘Easing School Jitters for the Selectively Mute Child,’ ‘The Ideal Classroom Setting for the Selectively Mute Child,’ ‘Understanding Katie,’ ‘Supplement Treatment Guide Book to Understanding Katie‘, ‘Selective Mutism Summer Vacation & Back to School Guide‘ and ‘ Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety Disorder in School .’ She has also produced numerous DVDs on the topics of treatment and assessment of Selective Mutism, and the development of school accommodations and interventions for mute children.
Dr. Shipon-Blum (or Dr. E as her patients refer to her) prides herself on being ‘down to earth’ and ‘easy to speak to’, and resides with her family in the northeast suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Notably, she is also the mother of a child, Sophie, who suffered from and overcame Selective Mutism and is the inspiration for the work she does each day.