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Welcome to Passaic's very own Selective Mutism resources page

Haga clic aquí para obtener recursos en español

You have found a starting point in Passaic, New Jersey for learning about Selective Mutism.
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According to Wikipedia's Selective Mutism page, "Selective Mutism ("SM")
is a social anxiety condition, in which a person who is quite capable of speech,
is unable to speak in certain situations."

The goal of this page is to increase awareness of SM, since early treatment is most effective.

Awareness is essential, because many educators don't know what to make of the symptoms,
and as a result, the child often goes untreated. Educators assume that a child's behavior
is similar at home and school, so they assume the parents know about it.
In fact, the opposite is true; SM kids can't stop talking at home.

Note: This page can be edited, so if you feel you can make suggestions or improve it,
please let me know, and I can make the changes, or give you information how to make them yourself.

Recognizing Selective Mutism
How to Verify Suspected Selective Mutism
Treating Selective Mutism
Links to SM Resources
Books about SM
Song about SM
Links to Blogs and other Grass-Roots info about SM
Helping Your SM Child Cope
Selective Mutism in the News
Not Treating Selective Mutism
Legal Help for SM Parents
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
What do I need:IEP vs. 504
What Should the IEP or 504 Say?
Is There Anyone Else Like Me?


What Selective Mutism means for a parent is watching their child go from an animated,
(very) talkative state - to absolutely silent when a stranger (or even a relative) enters the room.
When the stranger leaves, the talking resumes like a cork has been removed from a bottle.

Helping a child overcome Selective Mutism is not hard, but it takes a team effort:
Parent(s), Teacher(s), School Administration, and Mental Health Professional need to work together.

This site will present some suggestions of things that seem to help,
and links to sites operated by professionals who document proven treatment plans.

If you would like to network with other parents of SM kids in Northern New Jersey, please send mail:

Recognizing Selective Mutism

It is important to recognize SM early and to aggressively pursue co-operation of the school
in treating Selective Mutism. Teachers need to inform parents of the child's behavior
in school, because at home, the child's behavior is different (i.e., diametrically opposite).
Parents could be unaware for a year. (It has happened!)

There is a beautiful poem about Selective Mutism by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum: Suffering In Silence

Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia Article about Selective Mutiism

Recursos en español

si usted puede ayudar a traducir estas páginas, por favor envíeme correo electrónico

Artículo sobre el mutismo selectivo en la sección española de la Wikipedia:
Wikipedia Mutismo_selectivo

El NYU Child Study Team tiene un montón de experiencia con mutismo selectivo

How one Caseworker Verified a Diagnosis Painlessly

Verify Diagnosis

Treating Selective Mutism

The most favored treatment is for educators, parents, and professionals to work together
to help the child improve his or her comfort level in various settings, in very small steps.

Here are some of my Treatment Notes - but it's best to look at web sites of professionals, below:

Here are some methods used by a teacher who helped 16 SM kids in 20 years.
Most cases were verbalizing within 3 months, one case took 6 months:

Other Selective Mutism Resources on the Web

Some sites with more details, and materials: - Selective Mutism
Support Group (e-mail). This is the single best resource for parents of SM kids - Web site run by Gail Kervatt, MEd, a Reading Specialist who runs a monthly support group in Oakland, NJ - Web home of The
Selective Mutism Group~Childhood Anxiety Network.
SMG~CAN includes Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum, a Philadelphia-based expert on SM.
There is a page of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) there.

Article about Older Children with SM

The (Selectively) Silent Child An informal alliance of Selective Mutism support groups for parents and children, based in Canada - Selective Mutism Information and Research Association
A UK-based organization that is making great efforts to raise awareness of SM - A site with information on older children with SM

Article about IEP or 504

Article from National Institutes of Health

Same article in Spanish from Enciclopedia médica en español Enciclopedia médica en español:Mutismo selectivo

Books about Selective Mutism

Silence Within: A Teacher/Parent Guide to Helping Selectively Mute and Shy Children
by Gail Kervatt - Available from
Treatment Notes by a Reading Teacher who caught a child slipping through the cracks,
and resolved to research treatment methods needed

Helping Your Child with Selective Mutism
by Angela E. McHolm, Charles E. Cunningham, Melanie K. Vanier (Editor)

The Selective Mutism Resource Manual
by Maggie Johnson, Alison Wintgens

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition
by Pam Wright & Pete Wright

Books FOR Children

My Friend Daniel Doesn't Talk
by Sharon Longo

Why Dylan Doesn't Talk: A Real-Life Look at Selective Mutism Through the Eyes of a Child
by Carrie Bryson

Books by Elisa Shipon-Blum - available at and bookstores

Easing School Jitters for the Selectively Mute Child

Ideal Classroom Setting for the Selectively Mute Child

Understanding Katie : A Day in the Life Of

Song about Selective Mutism

Paul McCartney song, She's Given up Talking from his 2001 album Driving Rain
Words Here

Links to Blogs and other Grass-Roots info about SM

Blog by the Mom of a child with Selective Mutism
Blog by Mom of SM child

Helping Your Child Cope with Selective Mutism

Family events

Try to prepare the child for family events. Tell them who is going to be there,
especially if a favorite relative like grandma or a favorite cousin will be there.

Prepare others for your SM child. Tell Grandma that she might not talk,
but that she loves to play games...

Before one big gathering, I recruited my 12-year-old niece and her younger sister
to be chaperons for my SM daughter, and she had a great time, and was even
talking to them.

Also refer to other websites for details


The same anxiety that causes a child to be Selectively Mute may also make him/her too scared
to use a bathroom outside the home. This can cause accidents, which are torture for an SM child,
or can lead to serious health problems if the child "holds it in" for six hours.

If you take your child on an all-day event, find a way to bring him/her to the bathroom alone.
Turning on the tap has 2 benefits: masks noise, so SM kid relaxes, and tickles the brain to use
the bathroom. It should be a single-occupant bathroom, not a stall. Using the bathroom makes
noise, which the child may fear will be heard by others. The child may deny needing to use the
bathroom. Sometimes, once the child is secluded in the bathroom with a parent, he/she can use
the bathroom, and even talk.

This last point should be highlighted - sometimes getting the child comfortable enough
to privately use a bathroom in a strange place, will overcome anxiety enough
to allow him/her to talk - even outside the bathroom (like jump-starting speech).

The Bathroom issue is serious, because some SM kids - as young as 3 -
can figure out that they can wait longer if they drink less.
Both practices (holding it in and not drinking enough) are unhealthy.

Some people have found this article useful:


Many SM kids do well with Home Schooling. This section will be expanded in the future
Laws vary by State. This organization has information on the States:

Selective Mutism in the News

Links to Media coverage of Selective Mutism can be found Here

Not Treating Selective Mutism

Autobiography of a woman who overcame SM late in life: a completely botched case.
Not for the faint-of-heart.

Legal Help for Parents

Note, this is not legal advice, but rather a collection of leads to information. Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey (SPAN) - helps parents
navigate school system to get services or accommodations. Look for one in your state

Wrights Law

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
is a United States federal law that governs how states and public agencies provide
early intervention, special education, and related services to children with disabilities.
It addresses the educational needs of children with disabilities from birth to the age of 21.

Should I get an IEP or a 504?

Some parents are able to act as the child's key worker, so, a 504 "accommodation plan"
may suffice - or a 504 might be a good starting point, because it is easy to set up.
Every situation is different.
If the child needs more help, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is needed to get services
from the State.

Explanation of 504 from National Center for Learning Disabilities
"Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law that prohibits
discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities, public or private,
that receive federal financial assistance."

Wikipedia Page for Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act

504 vs. IEP

What should be in the 504?

This Section will be developed soon. The simple answer is,
whatever plan you put in place to secure the school's co-operation
and agreement, should list things that will help your child cope.

For example, it should say that "verbal responses will not be required"
and it might say that the child will be placed next year with children
he is comfortable with (by his own description).

Are There People Who Had Selective Mutism and Recovered?

See here Who Else Has Had Selective Mutism

MyNotes (password required)

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Page last modified on February 10, 2011, at 09:32 AM EST