M…… is a very happy 3 and three quarters. He was diagnosed with SM 2weeks ago. He has a lot of the symptoms but even though he doesn’t speak, his face is full of expression and full of smiles and giggles. When he went back to school after Easter, I gave his teacher all the information I had on SM, the following day I told him it was all right to whisper to teacher. Since then he hasn’t stopped whispering to her and friends. Is this normal? I have not been given any information on how to approach the problem, just to ignore it and not make a fuss over him not talking.
It is VERY common for children with SM to whisper; in fact, it is a good sign! The fact that M……… was mute prior to Easter, and is now whispering is progress. I would not ignore his success. Tell him how proud you are of him! Often, SM children will slowly begin to whisper, sometimes in a barely audible voice as they become more comfortable, and less anxious. As you know, SM children often do not manifest many outward signs of true anxiety, some seem quite content and relaxed in their environment and are happily ‘mute’. Because Michael is only 3 3/4 yrs old and already whispering, I think he is off to a great start!! As he becomes more comfortable with his whispering, try and encourage him to speak a bit louder. Instruct his teacher to use the phrase; “I can’t hear you M…….”. You will be surprised how well that works!!! Many SM children do not even realize they are whispering, so when you tell them that you cannot hear them, they will often speak a bit louder. Then, as time goes on, his speech will hopefully become more audible. Because it is the end of the school year, I encourage you to try and find out who will be in his class in the fall. Encourage playdates with the children and try and meet with his teacher during the summer (multiple times!). In fact, one method is to meet with his teacher OUT of school and just talk with her. Go into his new classroom as the fall approaches and let him play with the toys and get comfortable in the room. He will most likely speak normally to you when you are in the classroom. Try and be patient and encourage his progress!
Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum