To promote comfort with kids and teachers and fuel progression into social communication, children with Selective Mutsim often need staff facilitation to prompt the process or provide opportunities for the child to experience back/forth communication. This can be done both in class (using The Spot method) and outside of classroom (after school, during extracurricular activities, etc.).

The level of social communication the staff member prompts and facilitates is based on the child’s social communication level on the Social Communication Bridge®.

How To Facilitate:

  1. Handover/Takeover™: For children who are minimally communicative or non-communicative (Stage 0, entering Stage 1), this can be accomplished by a staff member working with few children in a group setting, where the staff member prompts each child to “hand-over” props to another child who then “take-over” the prop. The back and forth of communication stimulates the social communication pathways so a child begins to feel more comfortable. As a result, the child will look more comfortable, hence inviting more social interaction from others! Throughout the school day, the staff member should prompt different Buddies to Handover classroom items to the child with Selective Mutism who then Takes-over the item. As the child with Selective Mutism becomes more comfortable, the staff member should prompt him/her to initiate and handover to a Buddy.
  2. Verbal Intermediary®: As comfort increases and progression along the Social Communication Bridge® occurs, the staff member should prompt the child to (1) tell a Buddy an answer (the Buddy is the Verbal Intermediary®), (2) begin to work on sounds of letters/words using the Ritual Sound Approach®, or (3) use an augmentative device such as a tape recorder as a transitional strategy.
  3. Q/A Games: This format requires less effort on the child’s part by lessening the need to process higher levels of language. Therefore, anxiety will be minimized. The more the child knows about the game format, the less anxious he/she will feel. This will lead to more success, more confidence, and lower overall anxiety. It is very important to minimize open-ended questions and questions that require elaborate speech.

For more school-based tips and strategies, download our School-Based webinars:

Ask the Experts: School Check-Up: Our Lead Clinical Counselor, Jennifer Brittingham, M.A. hosted a popup webinar to answer school-based questions! You can purchase the recorded version here for only $10! Tips are based on our evidence-based Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®) approach utilized in treatment at the SMart Center.

Back-to-School Planning for the Child with Selective Mutism: Our President & Director and developer of our world-renowned treatment approach, Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum, hosted this school-based webinar which allows viewers to receive strategies to effectively address bus rides, bathroom breaks, play dates and peer relationships, find out ways to build teacher rapport and increase comfort by using the SM Interview Process™ and other methods, and much more! Download the webinar here. 


About Selective Mutism:

To effectively overcome Selective Mutism and all anxieties, an individual needs to be involved in a treatment program, such as those rooted in the evidenced-based Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®), like Individualized Intensives or CommuniCamp Group Treatment Program. 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 into the development and maintenance of SM as well as understanding a child’s baseline level 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©.