“Why does my child speak to her two best friends at home, but is mute with both when at school?” 

This scenario is all too typical. Surprisingly, this occurs very often and can go on for years. I’ve seen so many situations where a child with SM is completely shut down in school yet at home can be quite assertive and bossy! 

There are two primary reasons why children cannot ‘use their words’ with their friends at school despite the ability to speak to these same friends at home. The first reason is the child is not comfortable with ‘others’ hearing their voice. This anxiety has little merit, but they feel like their peers will laugh or make a big deal about it!. So they avoid it altogether.  

 The second reason is because the child simply feels too overwhelmed. There’s also a third reason that’s worth mentioning where the child is so used to NOT speaking, the behavior is more or less ingrained and hard to break.  

To get over the hump, for very young children, effort needs to be put on one-on-one time within the school environment. The child must SEE themselves as a verbal communicator in that environment. This can be accomplished after school, where the child can play in the classroom with their friend. They can do this before school, too. Really whenever there isn’t a ton of children and teachers around. 

The older the child, the more specific interventions are needed. 

I suggest reading about our Transitional Stage of Communication. It’s this often over-looked stage where we progress many into speech.” – Dr. E