“I am the mother of a five and half year old boy with Selective Mutism. This year he’s going to school. It is a French school, yet he only knows English. Would you agree this will be too much for him? What would you do if this was your child?”

Before trying to answer this question, I’d need answers to the following questions: 

  • What are the WHYs of SM for your son?  
  • What are the factors into the development and maintenance of SM for your son?  
  • What are your son’s baseline stages of social communication, based on the Social Communication Bridge®, in all settings of his life? 

The answers to these questions will help me conceptualize your child’s case; and help us form our treatment strategies, school-based accommodations and interventions.  

You indicated that he only knows English, yet he’s going into a French immersion school. This is certainly an added barrier on your son’s journey across the bridge. If you are only speaking English at home, and there’s no opportunity outside of school to immerse himself in French, this will make things more difficult on your son. Alternatively, if you are a family that speaks French at home – he is listening to French, he understands French, he has the ability to speak French – than this is a completely different story. 

Assuming you do not speak French at home, your son will have more trouble build comfort and connection at school. Not to mention it will make your lives more difficult as you and your treatment professional as you begin to implement treatment strategies and interventions to help him become a confident social communicator. 

I can’t answer what I’d do if this were my child. Every child is truly different and gifted in their own way. How important is it for you to have your son in a French school? This is something you should talk to your treatment professional about. Talk to the school staff, too. The more conversations you have, the more likely you will make an intelligent decision on whether to continue your son in the French school or consider somewhere else.” – Dr. E