Meet Gianna

Gianna was a confident and social child up until she started school when she was three years old. Gianna’s mom recalls that in the school setting, she was completely mute. “When she would leave school, she was herself again.”

Gianna began treatment at the SMart Center when a social worker recommended the SMart Center. Her family was not seeing much progress through her local therapist, so they traveled to CommuniCamp™ Intensive Group Treatment & Parent Training Program. “Since the first day of [CommuniCamp™], Gianna has been doing things she had not done since she started school a year ago. She talked to her counselors and the other students in her class at camp with no problem on the first day. She was clearly comfortable there and instantly became a leader in the class. The weekend at camp was amazing for us as a family,” Mom stated.

After Gianna and her family spent a weekend at the CommuniCamp™, Gianna’s family expresses that she has made great progress. “After [CommuniCamp™], Gianna talked to adults she didn’t know, ordered food at restaurants, asked for directions – things she had never done before.”

Once school started at age four, Gianna’s family followed the recommendations they learned during the Parent Education Sessions at CommuniCamp™, making sure to update her school’s support team on the S-CAT® strategies they learned.

Gianna’s mom’s KEY advice to families is “It is very important that the school team is on board with the same strategies that are being worked on at home. It is our responsibility as parents to advocate for our children and educate all adults interacting with our child on what our child needs to be successful. For us, this took a lot of education relating to selective mutism for our family and an amazing school support team that is on board with implementing the S-CAT strategies along with us.” At school, just one month after attending CommuniCamp™, Gianna now talks to her teacher, assistant teacher, and all peers in her class since day one of this year! She is more confident in all social situations and thriving socially and emotionally.

Listed below are some S-CAT ® strategies that helped Gianna the most:

  • Choice questions
  • The Bridge visual
  • Rating her fear emotions

Gianna has expressed to her family that she “learned to be brave at camp this summer” and she “doesn’t need her brave chart anymore because she feels comfortable talking.” Gianna also says, “I just needed to take my time.”

If you are considering enrolling your family in an upcoming CommuniCamp™ Intensive Group Treatment & Parent Training Program with the SMart Center and would like to speak with Gianna’s mom about her experience, please email so we can connect you!

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©.