How old was Eli when you first noticed he was mute in select settings?
2 years old.
Please briefly summarize what settings he was mute in.
Eli was mute in most settings outside of our home or outside of close family members including the babysitters house that he went to everyday, school, fun events like plays despite being with his parents, etc.
Was your child in treatment for Selective Mutism, Social Anxiety, or related disorders before finding the SMart Center?
Yes, Eli went to therapy in Harrisburg for Selective Mutism when he was 2-3 years old. We tried to continue with remote treatment in 2020 but it wasn’t working out for us and we eventually stopped going but it wasn’t nearly as effective as treatment at the SMart Center.
What brought you to seek treatment at the SMart Center? What makes S-CAT® treatment different from other methods you may have tried before finding the SMart Center, if any?
Eli had just begun his Kindergarten year and I was adamant about getting him the help he needed and fast! I wanted him to be able to overcome this as quickly and easily as he could before he got too old. I had researched and read multiple books on Selective Mutism, took online classes, etc. when I realized that we HAD to get him to the SMart Center for treatment no matter what that meant! We had a plan in place to take to try out in the real world (school) after each appointment, which differed from the last place we went where there was no assignment to specifically achieve.
What SMart Center services did you use for Eli?
- CommuniCamp™ Intensive Group Treatment & Parent Training Program
- Medication Consultation
- Virtual groups
How often do you consult with the SMart Center?
Once a month he has in-person appointments, I tend to email back and forth with Dr. E once or twice a month.
What changes have you noticed? Please describe his overall progress, including functioning in school, at home, with friends and teachers, and any changes you have seen since starting treatment.
Here is the progression of when Eli first went to CommuniCamp to now:
- Whisper into his teacher’s ear at school
- Whisper to each classmate outside the classroom
- Participate in classroom discussion by whispering at half an arm’s length away, then a full arm’s length away
- Use full voice at our house with classmates during playdates
- Uses whisper all the time at school with other classmates inside the classroom and in classroom discussion, raises his hand to participate
- Use full voice during recess
- Use full voice at school with his teacher
- Use full voice at school with classmates starting in small groups and increasing a few at a time to have the whole group present
- Use full voice during morning meeting greetings during circle time
- Use full voice to raise a hand to participate in classroom discussion
Eli’s whole body language looks different when he is in the classroom compared to a year ago. He is excited to tell his teacher and classmates things that he does over the weekend. Eli enjoys going to special events and isn’t as overwhelmed by as much as he used to be. He used to pack lunch 80% of the time last year, but now he buys school lunch every single day. His desk gets moved around at the end of each marking period and he has enjoyed being able to sit with 3 different groups of people, all of which he can speak to now.
What S-CAT® strategies helped the most?
Ritual sound approach, “Keep it going” questions, train stops to expand group, and having a chart/plan to complete with a reward system
Do you have any “key” advice for parents going through it now?
It’s a process; it doesn’t happen with the switch of a light. It was hundreds of little baby steps to get to where he is today. It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do with what feels like no end in site most of the time and then all of the sudden, it just became easier and easier and I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. We followed Dr. E’s recommendations to a T. Put the hard work into it, it’s worth every extra effort, your child will thank you later!
How does Eli feel now?
“I used to not talk, but now I do!”