Suggested Games and Activities to Complete with Relatives & Friends!
- Show off school work, drawings, photo albums, etc. where the relative can ask direct/choice questions regarding the ‘prop’ shown
- Games: board games, card games (Go Fish, War), complete back/forth interview games
- Jokes & Riddles
- Treasure Hunts/Eye Spy
- Art Projects
- Helping around the house, cooking/baking
During these games and activities, relatives, friends, or school staff should ask the child questions. It is how these questions are asked that will make the difference. For example, if the individual is typically mute with someone, but becoming nonverbal, using a parent, sibling, or someone else he or she is verbal with as a Verbal Intermediary® is suggested. As the individual responds by telling his or her Verbal Intermediary®, the relative should repeat what was said. The repetition of what the individual said, if done in a very subtle way, helps him or her know that they were heard and it was not a “big deal.” Therefore, when repeating, eye contact should be minimized and a very nonchalant, no-big-deal attitude should be adopted.
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®.