My six year old male student has not said a word in school for the last three years. He speaks on going at home and at relatives. He has told his mom he will not speak at school. Could this really be SM? He plays, runs around, smiles and does everything else the other students do except for talk. He gets along real good with everyone and seems to like his teacher. Could he possibly just be spoiled? I heard an audio tape of him, and it sounds like he pretty much rules the house hold. He does say and do what he wants at home, you can tell by listening to the tape. He is in school a whole day and also never uses the bathroom. He has never had an accident. As a teacher it is very frustrating and I really can’t test him very well. He is far behind the other students. Should he stay back for another year? Any information you can give us would greatly be appreciated.


I sense your frustration, but honestly, many of the questions you asked are too ‘vague’ for me to answer with certainty. Could this child have SM? Absolutely. Many of the characteristics you mentioned are similar among SM kids… They are often assertive, boisterous, extremely verbal at home….as far as ‘rules the roost’, that can be with any strong willed child. Many SM children hold in their urine throughout an entire day at school. This stems from not being able to ASK to go to the bathroom and the fear of bringing attention to themselves. Many SM kids do not eat in school as well…again, they do not want to bring attention to themselves.

As far as spoiled?? I am not sure what that means?? Spoiled to me is a vague term for a child that is ‘given’ whatever they want. In most cases, it is the observer that misinterprets ‘spoiled’ from something entirely different.

Should the child be held back?

I cannot answer that. Testing a SM child is indeed difficult, but the majority of the children are bright and are on grade level or above. At his age, if you feel that his skills are not up to par…then a nonverbal assessment may be warranted. Be careful though. With many SM children, anxiety holds them back from succeeding and performing well on many tests.

A good developmental test that can be done with minimal verbalization and is very user friendly and children seem to enjoy the test is the Bracken developmental test. The score correlates with school readiness and skills can be assessed. I recommend someone administer the test who the child already has a relationship with.