Question: “What if a child with Selective Mutism has to give an oral presentation? How would that be handled?”

Answer: “Depending on the age of the child, he/she can use the buddy system where a friend can read or present the oral presentation. The child can tape their lesson at home and then play it for the class, or the teacher can listen alone. The student can also write their presentation and the teacher or friend can read the presentation to the class. As time goes on, and comfort is established, positive reinforcement, fading, modeling, and desensitization techniques should be implemented in order to gradually help the child progress into verbalization. Under the guidance of an experienced professional, SM children will make progress. Time and patience are required, however. Attempting to rush the process will only backfire by increasing the child’s anxiety, causing regression rather than progress.”

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©.