Question: “If a child/teen is completely mute within the classroom, will verbalization automatically begin when anxiety is lowered?”

Answer: “The answer is YES and NO…

YES, assuming specific techniques and tactics are used to lower anxiety; such as desensitization, modeling, fading, positive reinforcement, and perhaps cognitive-behavioral therapy, with/without medication. The purposeful tactics enable progress with communication comfort, hence speaking. If anxiety is lowered, without adequately building the necessary coping skills, communication and ultimately verbalization will be limited.

NO, because unless the above techniques and tactics are put together in a purposeful manner and there is a way to transfer speaking into the school setting, communication progression and verbalization will be stifled and limited. In addition, unless coping skills are built, a child/teen may regress, revert or make limited progress with communication.”

To learn more, download a copy of Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum’s Ideal Classroom Setting book, which goes into detail about tactics that can be easily incorporated into the classroom to benefit and accommodate the needs of the Selectively Mute child. Dr. E and her team at the SMart Center regularly consult with school staff members to empower our teachers with the tools needed to help students who suffer in silence.

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 holistic or “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 stage 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©.