Whispering is a start

 A few weeks ago I wrote about an eight year old boy who is a selective mute (talking is not the answer for the selective mute blog post 14th February). I suggested that the class teacher works on reducing his stress and anxiety and help to find other ways he can communicate rather than trying to get him to talk. She has been using visual cards with him to help him communicate when he wants a drink, needs the toilet etc. and these have been working well. He is now able to get his water bottle himself when he needs it, demonstrating a reduction in his fear and anxiety and an increase in his confidence. I suggested she offer him the job of filling the water bottles for the class every day and encourage him to choose another child to help him with this. I encouraged her to show him each child’s name on their drawer and let him point to the child he wanted to work with him. He chose a child who is quiet like him but is more confident and has good social skills. They have been working together filling the water bottles for the class at the start of each day and the teacher is in the room with them setting up the class for the day. She has reported that they are enjoying doing this together and he is more relaxed in class and has just started to whisper to her at times during the day. He has also been out at break times with the other child, something he was refusing to do before. So for this child, the teacher’s consistent attempts to help him and her commitment to trying out the strategies I suggested are slowly showing positive results. She is conveying very positive messages to the child about acceptance, nurture and support which are all helping him to feel safer and more settled in class and in school. Her ability to work with him at his own pace rather than trying to rush him to talk is working as he is now gradually communicating with her in his own way and in his own time. This child led approach has clearly reduced his anxiety levels and increased his confidence, a slow but very worthwhile process.

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