Today I learned there will be a student with selective mutism in my classroom. She can read, write, and speak to family. But when she comes to school, she is overcome with such anxiety that she is unable to speak. It will be an interesting challenge working with her and implementing strategies that will help overcome this. Because selective mutism is reinforcing, treating it as early as possible is important. Self-modeling, providing motivators, stimulus fading, desensitization, shaping, and spacing all help contribute to treating this social anxiety disorder.
Funny thing is, when my family arrived in the United States I went straight into kindergarten. I experienced some sort of selective mutism. I learned the language but was terrified to say anything, even to ask permission if I could use the girls’ room. I became less anxious towards the end of the school year. After I went into first grade, my anxiety returned again because I didn’t know anybody. I remember having an assignment at the beginning of the school year to draw a favorite television show. Well, we didn’t own a TV. And I didn’t know any TV shows. When the teacher asked me why I wasn’t drawing anything, I cried. Not only did I feel anxious and scared to speak up, but I couldn’t even complete an assignment consisting of drawing! In second grade I met a girl who spoke Russian; she became my best friend. This contributed to the lessening of my social anxiety.
I’m curious to see how interacting with the student will be like.