Parents Guide: How to Help a Child with Selective Mutism


Working With the School

As part of a comprehensive treatment program, it is extremely important to get a child’s school on board with treatment. Often the first step is helping teachers and administrators at the school understand selective mutism. Many educators haven’t heard of the disorder, and a child’s silence can be mistaken for lack of comprehension or ability, stubbornness or even oppositional behavior. And like parents, teachers can adapt to a child’s silence or get used to other children answering for her, which won’t help her get better.

Teachers should understand what selective mutism is and be trained in the skills and strategies that help kids with SM speak. Your child’s clinician should be able to give specific advice on the best way to work with the school. Clinicians at the Child Mind Institute always collaborate with teachers, provide trainings and offer specific strategies for use in the classroom. Children with SM may also qualify for accommodations under Section 504 or be eligible for special school services under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).