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to think DD has SN and expect her teacher to do something?

(100 Posts)
alisunshine29 Sun 17-Feb-13 17:10:13

When DD was at nursery school she spent the entire year talking to her friends but no adults at all - not even once. Since starting reception in September she hasn't spoken to any other child, though she does have friends. She reads her words to her teacher one on one but doesn't speak at all all day other than that. At home she never stops talking and is very happy but she has been really despondent about going to school for the past few weeks and isn't enjoying it at all. Surely almost 2 years of not talking in a school environment is enough proof she isn't going to suddenly ''come out of her shell's and her teacher should do something?

Littleturkish Wed 20-Feb-13 09:19:39

I would recommend play therapy again- use the official registered list of qualified play therapists and go and meet them first to find one you think would be a good fit. It sounds like you could uncover why she feels like this and encourage speech, if you pay privately you'll have more control over who to use- or go through GP and school and use their therapist.

Either way- ask for a meeting with SENCO and class teacher before you return to GP.

poppypebble Tue 19-Feb-13 22:39:43

ali she sounds just like my niece with the lack of facial expression etc. It upset me to see it for myself even though I'd known about the SM for years by that point. I hope you find a resolution to this problem quicker than we did. Ask to see the SENCO and speak to your GP again. DSis found this really helpful.

alisunshine29 Tue 19-Feb-13 22:38:47

Poppy - I think that aspect is putting DD off too. I took her to a party at the weekend and she was talking to me and every single friend that heard her commented something like:'wow she can talk!' Or 'i didn't realise you could talk' etc. We have a dog (who she chatters to constantly!) But won't engage in conversation with strangers about him, or anything else, unless it's via me.

alisunshine29 Tue 19-Feb-13 22:33:40

She is very mature for her age and particularly emotionally mature - I.e feels empathy, can explain logic behind feelings, no tantrums pretty much ever etc but when I've asked why she doesn't speak at school (not lots of times to make an issue of it) she shrugs and just says 'i just don't.' It's as if she doesn't understand why. Having seen her at school/photos in her learning journey etc I can see her mannerisms are completely different and it's as if she just loses all facial expression. She has seen friends out of school but doesn't talk to them. However if we go to a soft play area she'll actively approach a younger child to play - I think it's because the expectation to speak is removed as other 5 year olds ask questions etc.

poppypebble Tue 19-Feb-13 22:32:30

DNiece struggled so much because it was made a big deal of at school. She is 17 now and can explain that she felt that because people knew she didn't talk, she couldn't just start talking without there being a massive fuss.

Toughasoldboots, the dog was (and still is) like a miracle. He's an unusual breed and people stop her to talk about him when she walks him, so she became more confident. She talks at college now, but only because my DSis asked them to pretend they didn't know about the SM, so she felt no weight of expectation. DNiece is a diamond - clever, sensitive, funny - but such a worrier. The dog works better than any therapy or prozac ever did for her.

Shelby2010 Tue 19-Feb-13 22:21:37

OP, will your Dd talk to the children in her class outside school eg if you invite them round to tea? I wonder if it would help her if she got to know 1 or 2 of them in an environment that she was more comfortable in. Maybe something you could try whilst waiting for more specialist referrals?

Dd2 has ASD too.

poppy, I am stunned, that is exactly what worked with my dd2's selective mutism, a dog.

Noodlenoon Tue 19-Feb-13 22:04:09

I stopped talking shortly after I started school. I said something that sounded so bad I didn't want to use my voice there again. A teacher suggested I whispered to a friend who could relay what I said so that's what I did. Just whispered to friends and never spoke to teachers or any adult strangers.
At some point people came in and I'd go with a friend to play games. It was good fun but didn't help me find my voice.
My mum took me to a professional once that I remember, and that made me feel very uncomfortable.
I told my parents that if I could have a fresh start in a new school I would talk but they didn't believe me.
The reason I eventually spoke in yr 5 is that I was "forced" to. The teacher had just decided one day he was going to make my life hell until I did. He was very authoritative and he shouted and screamed and waited until I felt I had no choice. I was petrified and cried and cried but by the time I'd finished reciting my answers there was no point going back. So I spoke from then on.
Don't know what the answer is, or what might help but habits are hard to break and professionals are frightening to frightened children. I'd talk. Talk it through with your little one but most importantly listen, and take it from there.
Good luck

BlatantLies Tue 19-Feb-13 21:56:23

I watched This BBC Series on selective mutism. (although I swear it wasn't three years ago..... confused )
The last episode was particularly interesting and they showed how they got the little girl talking. I can't remember what happened with the other girls but it was a fascinating show.

Littleturkish Tue 19-Feb-13 21:49:59

Have you asked her why she doesn't speak at school? Is she able to rationalise or articulate her feelings?

alisunshine29 Tue 19-Feb-13 21:47:16

Thanks for all your replies, links and advice. Just seeing how much happier she is this week during half term has made me determined to do my best to help improve things at school for her. To those that asked - yes her teacher mentioned to me that she doesn't speak at all at school but said she thought she just needed time to come out of her shell. However her nursery teacher had told her that she'd had the issue there for a whole year which in my opinion infers it's more deep rooted than simply shyness. Her teacher had assumed she was talking to other children at play time outside when she couldn't be overheard as she has friends but this isn't the case. DD has asked that I ask her teacher if I can go in and be a class helper a couple of mornings per week and I think it could help as she may at least start talking to others via me. But not sure if this course of action is generally recommended? When I went to an after school session to view DD's work with her she had no problem talking to me even though she knew her teacher could overhear so at least me going in could help her teacher assess her communication skills more so than she can do at the moment.

poppypebble Tue 19-Feb-13 21:10:58

My DNiece's selective mutism was made worse when the SENCO shouted at her - she then became a refuser.

She did not talk at school ever - from reception through to Y11. I took her to school once and it was shocking to see her total lack of facial expression, never mind speech, from the moment we arrived in the school grounds. Every professional seen said that they had never experienced SM that got beyond primary school. Sliding in did not work with her and she never uttered a word on school grounds, instead beginning to speak the moment she got out of the gate.

In the end getting a dog made all the difference. She began to get more confident and is now studying to be an animal behaviourist at college.

In my experience (as a teacher) classroom teachers know little about SM - I'm alert to it because of my DNiece, but others I work with do not understand it at all and just think the child is 'shy'.

merrymouse Tue 19-Feb-13 18:39:59

Maybe intervention tends to occur when the problem is more severe and therefore also less easy to solve?

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 14:42:45

lljkk - I don't see that you can generalise. SM can be linked with other conditions such as ASD, and even if it isn't, no two children or their circumstances will be the same.

I can see that especially an older SM child might resist intervention if they got the impression that people were trying to 'fix' them (though of course the therapy should be designed specifically to avoid pressuring the child). That's presumably another reason why it's easier to intervene earlier when a child is younger and less 'aware'.

DizzyHoneyBee Tue 19-Feb-13 14:37:36

It sounds like selective mutism to me. Ask for a meeting with the SENCO at school. There are a wealth of resources about SM out there; I remember writing an essay about it for university and finding loads of good stuff from Alison Wintgens (I think) online, she's a speech therapist if I recall correctly.

lljkk Tue 19-Feb-13 14:24:29

The progress that SaladFingers describes is about what I've seen for the child I know now in y7. the one whose mum took the laid back approach.

But I hope SaladF & others can do better.

i hardly ever spoke through primary school and would generally only speak to my mum, uncle, nan, cousin, and 1 or 2 friends. i was extremely shy when i was little. it got a little better through my teenage years but i was still shy. i couldnt even talk to my aunty shock but i turned out fine

i highly doubt its sn but if you're that worried... then it is YOUR responsibility to get it checked out

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 13:39:04

I can't link the pdf download for the full SMIRA leaflet, but here's an excerpt which hopefully will be helpful for those interested. It's from the 'Downloads' section of the SMIRA site.

The Teacher’s Response
As Selective Mutism is relatively rare, many teachers will never have encountered such a child before and may have no idea how to respond. Recognising that Selective Mutism is an anxiety response, similar to a phobia, may help the teacher to better understand the child.

Negative responses by the teacher can include:-
• feeling threatened or frustrated at being unable to elicit a verbal response from the child
• modelling verbal responses, e.g. answering register, ‘over-talking’ for the child
• denying there is a problem or hoping it will clear up in time without any intervention
• pressuring, bribing, threatening, flattering or cajoling the child into speaking.

Positive responses by the teacher can include:-
• removing the pressure to speak from child
• removing the pressure to make the child speak from yourself
• trying to help the child feel secure and accepted as they are at that time
• working hard to establish a rapport and a good relationship with the child
• accepting any non-verbal responses or attempts to communicate
• linking the SM child with a small group of peers and a key adult
• encouraging social interaction and physical movement through games
• letting the child know that other children and even adults fear speaking at times
• seeking outside help from agencies, e.g. SNTS, EPS, and support groups like SMIRA
• working with the parents to make a ‘bridge’ between home and school.

saladfingers Tue 19-Feb-13 13:29:19

I have also found the SMIRA website and their FB support group very helpful.

saladfingers Tue 19-Feb-13 13:25:38

My DD was diagnosed when she was 4.She was completely silent in pre-school,school Nursery and the first term or Reception, not able to cry,laugh or speak.The Reception teacher mentioned it to me that she was concerned.I phoned HV who made a referral to the Child and Adolesent Mental Health Unit.She has since been referred to SLT but there is nothing they can do as her spoken language is age appropriate when out of the school setting.With the support of the CAMHs team I have started supporting my DD in class through the sliding in process as outlined in the SM resource manual.My DD is now almost 6,she will now whisper to me in and around her classroom,she will talk quietly to a friend or 2 on the walk across the playground into school.She will now make some noises while I'm not there.As yet she has not spoken to any of her peers or school staff but she has made a huge amount of progress in 18months.If we had delayed this intervention then the SM would have been further ingrained,her non verbal communication coping strategies would have been even better and I believe the anxiety would have been too great to overcome.We are not out of the woods yet but we will get there without the need for medication.My DD now has 1hr per day support from a key worker.I'm hopefully that this too will be beneficial.

RubixCube Tue 19-Feb-13 13:12:39

*even though

RubixCube Tue 19-Feb-13 13:11:55

My daughter is like this she's 4 and a half.She didn't speak in nursery for months.Now even in school when she comes in crying from the playground she can't tell the teacher what has happened evenI ws though she can talk.She had many friends but from what i know she does'nt really speak alot to them and when she does it's only one on one.

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 13:11:49

This is from one of the SMIRA handouts:

The Selectively Mute Child in School

The Teacher’s role

1. Early identification

• the condition may be manifested in school settings and rooted in the child’s anxiety over speaking in unfamiliar social settings and to unfamiliar people

• allow a ‘settling in’ period, but if the child is still not speaking even to peers after a term, action needs to be taken, because they will not “just grow out of it”

• early treatment produces good results quickly, but a long established pattern of
silence is harder to break and needs a highly structured programme

RemoteOutpost Tue 19-Feb-13 13:06:02

llkjj - the evidence is that professional treatment for SM is most effective when started early. Yes there's a limit to what the teacher can do - that's why it's important for a teacher to recognise when their methods for drawing out a shy child just aren't working, because the issue isn't actually shyness.

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