Meet Rhett

Rhett was 3 years old when his family first started to notice several differences between their son and other children his age. When Rhett was at home with his family, he was “bright and full of life,” according to his parents. He got nervous in large crowds, but they assumed that was normal for kids his age.

“After 2 years of preschool, a teacher asked us if Rhett knew how to talk. We were shocked! Of course he could talk! He was never quiet! We tried countless therapists, testing, play-dates… the list goes on. Nothing and nobody was helping. Several [therapists] could get him to speak in a 1:1 setting but then the help stopped. We were even turned away from the last therapist who was ‘experienced in Selective Mutism’ because she thought he needed more help than she was able to give. What now? That’s when I started meeting with and talking to other moms with children with SM and wanted to get some answers and some REAL help.”

When Rhett was 4 years old, he and his family traveled from the Southern U.S. to Philadelphia, PA for the SMart Center’s Individualized Intensive S-CAT® Program and CommuniCamp™. Following these services (with the addition of one Follow-Up and one School Consultation via web-conferencing), Mom reports that “The SMart Center gave us TOOLS and steps and goals. All new information. We finally had a game plan and the supporting knowledge to actually help our son. The changes were immediate and continued to shine through with more practice.”

When asked what changes they have noticed since starting S-CAT®, Rhett’s parents said “Wow, where do we even start!? Our son is now verbal in ALL settings! He talks at school, he has made friends, he participated in a Halloween parade IN COSTUME, he plays sports! Our friends and family have commented on how amazing his transformation has been. He speaks to family members now which is incredible. Seeing him go to a birthday party and participate was a tearful moment for us. It was the first time in 5 years we had seen him enjoy a group environment. I could go on for days…”

What S-CAT® strategies helped Rhett the most?

“Practicing our strategies daily and incorporating them into our daily interactions was a huge part of our success. Facilitating his interactions with others outside of the home including Handover™/Takeover™ to build confidence in eye contact, assisting in bridging him up during conversation, getting his teachers on board with a consult. It was all so so so helpful. Life changing.”

What is Rhett’s Mom’s KEY advice to other SM Families?

“It is hard, and it takes a lot of effort, but it pays off! Every bit of it pays off. To see your child finally thriving is the most amazing gift. The sooner you can do it, go for it! Absolutely priceless.”

What does Rhett say about how he is feeling now?

“He is no longer scared of his friends and that he is brave and isn’t scared of anything—even snakes!”

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 Rhett’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©.