Monday, January 13, 2014

selective mutism treatment guide

Ruth Perednick's The Selective Mutism Treatment Guide: Manuals for Parents Teachers and Therapists: Still Waters Run Deep unique approach to a treatment guide truly is three books in one. It has three main parts, one each for parents, teachers and therapists. Although the author suggests that reading the entire manual is important, each group can understand the parts of treating selective mutism through reading only their section. As a result of this approach, there is some duplication. For example, defining the disorder occurs three times. The book is easy to read. The language is straight forward and not full of jargon. A good choice to share with people unfamiliar with the disorder.

The author walks the reader through the desensitization and shaping required to address selective mutism. Her advice for working with older(teenage) students is to use more of a cognitive process and less of a purely behaviorist one. While this treatment approach has been emphasized in all the works that I have read on the topic, this one does the best job of highlighting the importantance of beginning therapy in the location where the child speaks and slowly injecting the therapist into the child's comfortable location. Changing one variable at a time- who is in the session OR where the session is- is another critical component of therapy. Another aspect that the author emphasized as important is the therapist and the parent having planned what will occur in a session prior to bring the child into the session.

For the most part, teachers tend to view parents as homework helpers, cheerleaders and enforcers. Some teachers and therapists will work with parents to teach them how to help their child. This could be the reading specialist who under Title I has a welcome night and teaches parents how to do paired reading or a Common Core night where parents are introduced to the vocabulary of the math curriculum and shown how students are expected to answer problems demonstrating place value knowledge and multiplying by factors of ten or a speech teacher who sends home word lists to practice a particular sound. Parents in these situations, however, are very passive recipients of partnerships. With selective mutism, that pendulum must swing to a more involved in decision making role. The parent, as the most likely verbally communicative partner of the child, has the best chance of helping a the therapist breakdown the wall selective mutism and teach socially appropriate interaction patterns. Parents need to be involved in inviting a favored peer over to develop and reinforce speech. They need to become available to meet with the therapist at the beginning of treatment and plan a low stress introduction activity between the child and the therapist. They need to become available to assist with transitioning to a new setting. This is no longer the teacher or therapist leads the way. This is together we problem solve how to accomplish the next baby step goal.

As a teacher, I think it is important to understand what my role in this process is. I need to make the child as comfortable as possible, communicate with the others on the team, and continue creating a positive learning environment for the child. Although I am not the person responsible for trying to get the child to interact verbal across settings, I am the one who needs the child to respond effectively in a learning environment.

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