Question: “What should a teacher tell the SM child’s classmates when they ask why the SM child doesn’t talk?

Answer: “This happens quite often. Recommendations would be to have all the children write a list of the things that make them scared or afraid. Then explain to the children that this is how their friend (the SM child) feels about speaking; that it is scary and very difficult for him/her, but everyone can help him/her by not asking them questions or making comments about ‘not talking’.”

Want more tips? 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©.